Day 3: Crown King, AZ to Camp Verde, AZ

Sunday 9/11

Our tent was dry in the morning thanks to the lean-to (little did we know we’d have plenty of time to learn about dealing with wet tents…).

We said goodbye to Mike and Cardinal-loving Cameron…

…but not before Simon left them something to remember him by. I know it wasn’t much consolation, but I apologized and told them that Simon had pissed on my gear bag more than once. If Simon was trying to get back at us for the last few days of being bounced in the backpack, his anger was misdirected. If he pissed on the bag because he doesn’t like the Cardinals then his aim was true, albeit devoid of class.

We started the day with a stop at Horse Thief Lake. It was here that I first became impressed with Arizona’s trust in common sense. See this dam? You can walk on it.

If this were California, it would either be gated or there’d be multiple warning signs about your impending death if you ventured out on it. It was refreshing to see nothing.

We left the lake and headed on the route that Wayne had created tracks for. We travelled along a well maintained road for a while but then it got a little rocky. No big deal; we picked our way through the minor obstacles and continued on. But then we’d hit another rocky mess, followed another rocky mess. It would’ve been fine on Wayne’s KTM or my Husky, but it was punishing on our ass-heavy DRZs. The bike had a tendency to rear up on the larger rocks and I just wasn’t awesome enough to pick my way around them while also coaxing the little motor to get the whole package up the hill.

After I dropped my bike a few times we had a choice: turn back or continue for another ten miles of unknown terrain. We were sweating like crazy and Simon’s face was twisted up from all his panting, so we thought it prudent to turn back. We also decided that whenever we had to stop for more than a few minutes we needed to let Simon out of the pack. We really couldn’t tell how uncomfortable he was in the heat other than his speed of panting, so even though it was a bit of a production to load and unload him, we had to err on the side of conservative care. I gave him another opportunity to escape his backpack when I sent my DRZ into the trees thanks to a rock deflection.

I’m thinking at this point that maybe installing a steering stabilizer should’ve been given higher priority but there’s nothing to be done about that now.

We didn’t have breakfast and we had blown a few hours in our misadventure so we decided to backtrack to Crown King to have lunch.

Wayne saw some other dirtbikers and asked them about his route selection. The guy told Wayne, “Oh no, you don’t want to do Orobelle.” Yeah, we learned first hand that we did not want to do Orobelle. He set us straight on the direction we should go, which was to stay on Senator Hwy. If you can’t trust an Open Carry dirtbiker, who can you trust?

We had a problem-free ride down the mountain. A comfortable afternoon breeze was blowing which was good for Simon.

When we got to the small town of Mayer we fueled up. We also gave Simon his standard food test to make sure he was ok — the day he doesn’t jump all over human food is the day I give him the Pulp Fiction adrenaline stab and then run every red light getting him to the vet.

It was around 3:30 so we decided to look for a campground in the area. We stopped at a couple of RV parks, but they didn’t take tent campers. One RV park owner did warn us of a big storm coming in, so we were extra motivated to find a place where we could hunker down before the weather unravelled.

We finally found the USFS Clear Creek campground, where we were the only campers (aside from the camp hosts). We asked the camp host which tree was least like to have its limbs snap off. He pointed out the most stable one and we set up our tent beneath it.

Time for a country-style hair washing, some dinner, and another night of sleep.

————

Day 3 overview: 101 miles

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