|06-15-2007, 10:29 AM||#1|
Lust for dust.
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: Tulsa... it's OK
Evil beavers, rain, bats, flats, 10,000 curves on Route 666,…
…and my debut as a professional dual-sport rider.
Let me explain. You see, I’m a grad student at ASU in a fisheries lab. We survey
The plan was to meet the truck at a campground on upper Eagle Creek Monday afternoon. I cruised from the house just before sunrise and made a beeline East to Safford. Rain was in the forecast for Monday, so I sort of expected a bit of moisture. Well, it rained on me almost constantly from 7am to 2pm. My Joe Rocket road suit can’t handle that much water. I rolled into
Presently known as Route 191 (Coronado Trail), the highway linking
My original plan was to approach the camp on some unexplored FS roads, but I was soaked, cold, and solo. I thought better of biffing off-road in the mud and took the safe route to camp to seek shelter. I exited 666 and cruised down
At 330 pm, the skies opened up and the rest of the crew arrived with a flat tire. We fixed it, set up camp, and got to work, which sort of looked like this-
We also use a backpack electrofisher and shock the stream to dip out the fish. It’s fun.
Day 2 we surveyed 3 more upper Eagle Creek sites on our way back out to 666. The terrain here is non-eventful, but requires multiple shallow stream crossings. At the third site, miscommunications resulted in my separation from the truck for quite a while. I got to explore a lot of more technical roads trying to meet up with the rest of the crew, but it was frustrating. When we finally reconvene at an unnamed wash, we make motions towards our lower Eagle Creek sites and head south on 666 back to Morenci. Knowing that our most rugged terrain is yet to come, we opt to get a “new” tire so we can have a spare. We pick up a baldy in
We slap on the bald spare and can’t risk the pending terrain with no spare. The nearest new tire shop is Safford, 50 miles away, and it is late afternoon. We are forced to slab it to Safford, camp nearby, and get 4 new tires on the truck on the morning of day 3 to hopefully end our tire woes. We were originally nervous about making the trip with the 3-year-old BFG’s and our concerns were confirmed. The new set of tires ended the truck’s issues for the remainder of the trip.
I was having minor mechanical issues as well. On my previous trip, the head nut had backed off completely from the rough terrain. I addressed this, but apparently some damage was done to my head bearings, leaving a lot of rattle in the head because the trees can’t seat properly. The nut backed off again and I was unable to cinch it down on this trip and had to grit my teeth as the front end rattled over every bump. I guess new bearings are in my future. I’ll tear into it this weekend and assess the damages.
Anyhow, days 3 and 4 were spent on lower Eagle Creek.
The road meanders down and through the streambed and consists of river rock, sand, and about 30 slimy water crossings. In past years, these water crossings were 6-12 inches deep. No problem. Apparently the beavers have been working overtime in the last year. Many stream crossings were now >24 inches deep. This was a challenge for me on the bike. The deep water is one thing, but the substrate is dotted with large rocks which are barely visible from the surface. I managed all crossings but one, which I detoured on an equally technical, but shallower quad trail.
Yes those are 33 inch tires on the F250. I nervously rode through that as well. The water soaked the bottom of my saddlebags. All the paparazzi were in the truck, so there are no images of my crossings.
Camp on day 3 is located near a bat cave which always provides a nice evening spectacle. The cave was once mined for guano, but now simply houses an estimated 100,000 bats. They all exit the cave simultaneously each evening. It is really cool to see (and hear) that many bats pour out of a cave for 5 solid minutes as they disperse on their nightly feeding frenzies. Peregrine falcons swoop down and grab bats out of the air.
Day 4 was more sampling and homeward bound.
The truck returned through
From Alpine, it was 50 mph dirt byway to
Made it home safely at 845 pm for about 820 miles round trip. Not a bad way to spend 4/5 of your workweek.
Day gives way to night on the store front mannequins. The audience with Mona Lisa grins.
Moonlight builds emotion as the players scuttle in. Pull the curtain back and let the show begin.
Lunar mischief under low light discipline. Here the tiny monsters hunt the harlequins.
DirtyDog screwed with this post 11-14-2008 at 02:49 PM
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