Mark D Stephens: Adventurer, writer, photographer, ambassador of the sonoran desert
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Reno Pass Jeep Trail Adventure:
Stories, Tales and Pictures

Reno Pass Jeep Trail ArizonaAccording to the book, Ghost Towns and Historical Haunts in Arizona by Thelma Heatwole, Old Camp Reno lasted between 1867 to 1870 and was settled to provide yet another site of troubles between Apaches and White Man. My particular visit to the area included vistas with green green Sonoran Desert trees and wild grass. I felt a cool breeze nearly all day long, and listened to birds gently chirping in the palo verdes while lizards and ground critters stirred in the rocks and dead twigs from mesquites and brittle bush. Stillness is a nice way to sense the Arizona desert.

The camp fell, died or 'closed shop' in 1870, according to the book, and the history of it all is greatly unknown. Location, location, and location are the most important elements to successful real estate investments. The Fort Reno site is on an exposed mesa and way too close to steep hills, washes and thick brush which allowed the Apaches to hide and creep in undetected. This was a poor location for a military post, and that's about all we know. How the name Reno came into the picture is uncertain. As Heatwole closes her section on Camp Reno, "Today, the forest scene is quiet and serene. Its secrets are in the past."

On another Note:

"The breeze was very faint, and it bore the scent of earth and grain; and for a moment everything was all right with him. He was at home."

- N. Scott Momaday House Made of Dawn, 1969 Pulitzer Prize winner.

While much of the history is a lost secret, we can at least make up some stories of our own. When out in the wild of the west, I like to listen to the critters, the wind and the mountains because it feels like home. I was at home in the Arizona Sonoran Desert this day on Reno Pass trail until I stalled my Jeep on a cross-axle rut.

"Son of a bitch," I mumbled, but re-started and gave it another shot on a better approach angle. Trying to block the voices inside my head telling me it's time to buy more gear and equipment for my Jeep, I focused on the scenery. Oh, Reno Pass. You've got locking differentials, right? I got more irritated thinking about gear-and-equipment-talk...you know how people get with their gear and equipment. Well, let me share another story.

Reno Pass Jeep with a Snorkel, Arizona TrailUpon arriving at the Pass, We had stopped for a bite to eat. While we rested, a guy with his two sons in his Jeep pulled up and stopped to talk with us. We discussed gear and equipment, of course, because that's just what you do out there on the trail. We men tend to discuss, or debate really, gear and equipment if we don't have some reasonable person around to help referee and keep us civilized. But here it comes:

"I've got a two inch lift, 32 inch goodyear MTRs, warn bumpers, warn tire carrier..." [Spit, hike up pants, fondle crotch]

"Yeah well, I can go anywhere a Rubicon can go..." [Oh, ok.]

"I got a winch, sixty inch high-lift jack, BF goodrich mud-terrain tires - they're rated number one, you know, so they're better than those you have - a three inch lift, lockers..." [Spit, hike, fondle]

Blah blah blah. And when someone else in the conversation has better gear and equipment, or interrupts the most, the next weakest link will talk louder. That is about the best way to preserve a fragile ego. If that doesn't work, he will say something along these lines:

Jeep Rubicon with a Snorkel on Reno Pass Arizona Trail "Pfft! I paid half as much as you did and got the same results, if not better." or failing a certain level of cool:

Well I read on the internet that thing's a piece of crap

While we put up with each other at the stops, the actions on the trail are even better. This nice guy who joined us came down the stair step on the east slope of Reno Pass at about 20 miles an hour (engine revving, and the air smelling suspiciously like a burning clutch) and nearly left his differentials at the top as evidence. He blamed the equipment, of course, for his not-so-slick driving methods. "If I had a bigger lift, that wouldn't have been a problem". Sure.

My solution to feeling inferior during gear talk was to install an ARB Snorkel. When people ask (oh, and they ask), "Why do you have a snorkel on your Jeep?" I am able to respond with my Ballad of Reasons to have a Jeep Snorkel, thereby ensuring my superiority to those who only have neat racks, lifts, and winches. (Do you know sarcasm when you see it?)

The Quintet of Reasons to have a Snorkel on your Jeep (abridged)
  1. Cleaner air
  2. Cooler air
  3. More air
  4. Dry air.
  5. It looks really cool
"First," I say, "there are 3 practical reasons. Chiefly, the dust you're engine breathes on Arizona trails settles down here by your hips. So a snorkel gets the intake up out of the dust-zone. Additionally, your engine gets cooler air when the intake is up and out of the engine compartment. So, you're engine will thank you. Also, the snorkel head acts as an air-ram and increases, even if minutely, the amount of air your engine gets. Let me sum up: It's good for your engine."

For the 1-2 punch, I have to mention that it is called a snorkel: "By name association, you would think that a snorkel allows you to drive in deep water, but it is not wholly true. There are other factets of a deep water crossing that need attention other than your air intake. One of those things being guts, another thing being in the peculiar situation in which you actually need to cross deep water. So don't be fooled that a snorkel is a magic water-crossing tool. But, yes, it does allow your engine to breathe in water so long as the entire intake system is well sealed. Don't stall."

And the best reason, the reason why any of us do anything, is: "It looks really cool."

Additonal, yet bonafide, Information
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Mark D. Stephens: Adventurer, Writer, Photgrapher and Ambassador of the Sonoran Desert