We left home around 6am to beat the heat and the 30% possibility of thundershowers in the Florence/Superior area. Intending on making it a full loop we took the quick jaunt down to Florence, turning east onto Price Road. There we engaged the front hubs and aired the tires down to 14 psi for the anticipated rough drive through Box, Martinez and Cottonwood Canyons.
The first 11 miles were almost a breeze due to the road being freshly graded so it wasn't long before we entered Box Canyon. Once into the canyon the speed dropped off significantly, with the 7 mph average of the last 8 miles being less than 1/3 the 25 mph average of the first 11. Even that was much higher than expected, but then I don't exactly crawl through the areas that aren't full of boulders.
There were three areas through Box Canyon where crawling in 1st gear in low range was required but otherwise the trip was uneventful. Still, the pace for the last few miles barely hit 2 mph so you know it was no cruise in the park.
Some distance into Martinez Canyon where the air wasn't moving as much as we (ok, Tracey)
would like, we decided to take the doors off and cache them to pick up on the return trip. We weren't very long in looking for a suitable spot, which turned out to be a gravesite with boots sticking out of a mound of rocks. [Joe, feel free to insert a "boots-up" smiley here]
Perfect spot for a cache!
So I took the doors off (just open, lift and they're off) and set them where they wouldn't be seen from the road, even though we had no worries... who else would be out here in this heat??
But it was still only 92 at that time, reaching 98 upon completion of our hike.
Once we got to the trailhead (marked by a sign prohibiting further travel with motorized vehicles) it took a few minutes to loosen up our limbs from the 2+ hour drive. Of course my arms already had a full workout with no power steering and the small diameter steering wheel.
For the hike triplog follow this link:
2-1/2 hours later we returned to Sammy for our return trip, although this time we will turn right out of Martinez, continue north and west, exiting at AZ 79 through Cottonwood Canyon.
But not quite so fast... we had a few very careful moments as well as some frolicking with My Sammy on the way out. One thing you learn fast in four-wheeling, just because a section might be relatively easy on one direction doesn't mean the same thing in the other direction. In one section I couldn't approach it like I wanted and for a moment it seemed My Sammy would fall on his side... MY side!!
And without the door on that didn't sound like a fun thing. So I hopped out to reduce the weight on the driver's side, leaving Tracey in the vehicle to keep at least some weight (that ain't much) on the right side while I stacked a few rocks under the left front wheel to keep from tipping farther when we pulled forward. It worked like a charm and we were off again.
Back at the "boots-up" gravesite I had the unenviable task of carrying the now HOT
doors up the hill and reinstalling them, but I simply got on with it and we hit the road again. The rest of the trip toward The Ledge
went just fine so the anticipation of traversing the obstacle that had stopped us with two of my previous vehicles continued to build. Once there, with but a quick look and placing a few strategic rocks (where vehicles with too much power blew them out)
it was almost a let-down how easily My Sammy
conquered The Ledge
... so much so I decided to drive back down and have another shot at it. Again refer to the "easy one way, not so easy the other" rule... On the way down I misjudged where the rocks were by a few inches and had a quick moment where again I had visions of rolling over on the driver's side.
(Of course Tracey knows enough to be outside taking videos so no worries there)
But that moment passed and I continued down ending with one last drop at the end.
Ok, enough frolicking, with the temperatures climbing (especially Tracey's)
it was time to quit fooling around and head home. Due the road being thoroughly plowed through Cottonwood Canyon less than a month ago (so a large drilling rig could drive in some distance), we averaged over 45 mph the last 5+ miles. Once back to AZ 79 I parked under the kiosk for a little shade while airing the tires back up to normal highway pressures. That was it for the day... we packed 36 miles of off-road driving and a 2+ mile scenic/historic hike into less than 8 hours and it was still early afternoon.
In short... a fun adventure 4-wheeling and hiking in an awesome area... can't wait to return.
So far I have two videos of My Sammy
frolicking on The Ledge
, one from outside the vehicle and the other from the passenger's (Oh, pumpkin!
This is scary) point of view, although you'll see it was a piece of cake rather than pumpkin pie.
Outside view (640 x 480): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSn6ghEoNi8
Inside view (HD 1080p): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COlWMyCnQUE