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Crown King via Walker Gulch, AZ
mini location map2015-07-13
17 by photographer avatarAZWanderingBear
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Crown King via Walker Gulch, AZ 
Crown King via Walker Gulch, AZ
4x4 Trip avatar Jul 13 2015
4x4 Trip47.00 Miles
4x4 Trip47.00 Miles
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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You just never know what is gonna happen when you get out in the back country.

I'd set a little bit of a late start time to meet up with Stoic. We were going to try a round about way of driving up to Crown King. Supposedly I'd be home from my three days of flying about 11 on Sunday night. Had everything pretty well ready for the drive, so a reasonable sleep was possible. That was before the 4-hour delay in Baltimore for the biggest airplane fuel leak I've ever seen and the following unsuccessful fuel system repair efforts by the mechanics. Flew the replacement bird as fast as her little engines would push her. I still got home around 2 in the morning. But a plan is a plan and we were going. Who needs sleep any way.

We rendezvoused west of Lake Pleasant. With some small talk and time for Stoic to air down, we were off and headed north by northwest. Looks like some work has been done around Castle Hot Springs. It has changed hands again. One day maybe this historic place will be open again. Turned north on Buckhorn Road. Buckhorn got alternately rocky and sandy and the intensity of communication from the right seat increased. Hit Walker Gulch and turned north on what I knew was the trail, but looked like just another rocky wash for the fist hundred or so yards. The volume level from the right seat increased proportionally to the bumps. I selected 4 Hi and adjusted the CB volume in case Stoic had anything to say. The trail climbed out of the bottom of the wash and things got quieter and smoother.

First stop was a suspected ruin site, but we found nothing. Next was the Tussock Spring area. Found a grave, remnants of an old stone cabin, and a spring box. This place has been used a lot over the years. The country gets big out here. Between a few old corrals and some signs of mining, there isn't much evidence of people out here. We hit a corral that looks pretty new and even had some art work welded into the railings. Love to see some pride in a man's work.

The trail got a bit more technical after this point; not particularly difficult, just enough to be interesting. We were leading our little convoy at this point and it was fun to watch Stoic work his way up and down the obstacles. He did great. The trail descended into a steep sided wash and we met an obstacle we couldn't go over or around. Yep, you just never know what is gonna happen. (If this were a TV program, I'd insert a long commercial break here.)

A pick up truck was parked in the middle of the trail. Two guys were working on two different tires. Another vehicle was parked beyond the first. We all dismounted and went to check things out.

We never got the full story, but it seems the parents-in-law of one of the guys had left Crown King late in the day 5 days earlier in their two wheel drive pick up. Not exactly sure how to get where they were going, they followed their GPS along increasingly worse and worse roads until they became totally stuck. No one knew where they were going. They did have water, but not much else. They did remember having a bar or so of cell phone coverage back along the way. Leaving the disabled truck, they started hiking back along where they came. She had on flip flops. Got dark pretty quick, but they pressed on for a while. Ended up spending the night out. Finally got up high enough to get a little cell phone coverage. They didn't know where they were except in general terms. The SAR guys got enough of a cell phone fix on them to launch a recovery chopper. Ended up finding them in sort of OK condition. Temps later in the day went well over 100 degrees.

The son-in-law had tried a couple of days later to recover the truck, which had blocked the trail the entire time, but popped two tires after less than a mile. They had returned just before we hit the scene armed with several more spare tires. We assisted with some of our recovery gear and got them moving eventually. Added about 2 hours to our trip.

Luckily this didn't have a bad ending. Things like this really reinforced the need to be prepared, plan well, make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be back, and develop every skill you can.

They moved slowly up the trail and we followed taking time to explore anything that looked remotely interesting along the way. At Wagoner Road they headed west and we turned east.

Made a few stops in the Minnehaha area looking for ruins and grave sites. Found some of each. Even found a few apple trees left over from when this area had a pretty sizable population. Those will likely require some attention this fall, assuming we beat the deer, birds and bears to them.

Made the run north to link up with Senator Highway and then on to Crown King fairly expeditiously after that. Burgers and cold liquids were a motivating factor after bouncing along for the past almost 6 hours. The Saloon, our favorite, doesn't serve their fantastic burgers on Monday or Tuesday, so we wound up at The Mill, a very suitable alternative.

Was a good day out in the wilds of the Hieroglyphic and Bradshaw Mountains. Many thanks to Stoic for his planning efforts and patience with us.

Some video of Stoic working some of the lesser obstacles:
Named place
Named place
Castle Hot Springs Minnehaha Flat
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
The century plants were looking really good. Scattered wildflowers.
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
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