Preamble: Page made after midnight, cynicism and sarcasm lurking in corners. Enjoy at own risk.
In the words of Murt-the-winch-keeper:
We met at eight o'clock and burrr was it cold!. Any 4x4 can get to Sunflower Mine, but it's suggested you have some good gear and equipment to get through the trail after the mine. We drove down a hill to the mine where we looked at stuff. The mine is neat. Then someone said, "Let's go." So we went back up the hill. Then we had fun driving the good stuff after the mine. The trail gets good after you get to the mine. There's rocks and stuff to crawl over. It ain't hard when you have a two inch lift, chrome wheels and 33" tires like me. One guy in our group hit the hell out of his rear diff - that's 'cuz he didn't have a lift or chrome wheels. Then he needed a spotter. So Murt and Aloysius got out of their CJ5 to give him a hand. All was good. That was about the most excitement we had all day. It was a fun run. No body damage, and no drive train damage. That's good cuz burrr was it cold! Fun run!
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A fun part of driving these old Arizona back roads is thinking about the crusty miners and settlers using these same trails with stagecoaches and wagons. Another fun thing is storytelling:
"Legend has it, you see" he started with a wink, "that these are bullet holes shot by the crusty old miners during one of their wild night-time games. There's only one thing to do at night in the wilderness with only a group of nasty old miner men after the work is done....and since even they thought that was too disgusting, they'd get drunk instead and shoot their guns." He spit a mouthful of tobacco and waited for a response. I laughed because the way he held his hands on hips gave it way.
"Actually, these holes come from modern day visitors throwing rocks. Like this..." He bent over to find a good size throwing-rock, and gave it a heave. KABOOM.
Going to Sunflower Mine is the easy part, if you can handle the stories. It's the loop back to the highway that will get your attention, though. The trail follows a creek bed, which is particularly stunning in Spring and Fall, and then climbs a steep, rocky hill out where you have a handsome view of the Mazatzal Mountains. The trail challenges are short, and (in my opinion) pretty good - rock crawling, hill climbing, more rock crawling, and a little bit of cross-axle ruts. Then it's over; you can now open your hood and eat the burrito you have been cooking on the manifold since the trail started. Oh, you didn't do that?
In Jeeps, you often have to shuffle people around to make 'em all fit. One time a bright, yet talkative, 13 year old kid rode with me on this trail and had a scientific factoid about everything. His mouth never stopped:
"Did you know that if you were to take all the fat from every American's body and converted it to fuel, you could run a Hummer around the world 22 times without stopping? Well, if there was land where the oceans were. But you know what I mean."
True. Well, not the factoid but the the fact that he said crap like this all day. As I was fighting a boulder with my clutch, "Do you know how long it would take to smash through one of these rocks if all you had was a tree branch? It'd take me like a thousand years. How long would it take you?"
His dad reminded me at one of our stops, "Kyle talks a lot. So you have my permission to tell him to shut the hell up."
Later, after I stalled for the umpteenth time, the kid drew the last straw: "You sure do cuss a lot." I didn't even know I was saying these things out loud...
Click on any image you see, or select a picture on the right to view the gallery.
Oh yeah, notice that these pages contain Jeeps with snorkels (ARB Snorkel). Why the heck would you have a fording kit on a JEEP RUBICON (or any jeep) in Arizona? Well, see my page for Reno Pass for the quintet of reasons to have a snorkel on a Jeep, even in Arizona.