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Old 07-15-2012, 07:10 PM   #1
Psycho18th OP
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Rain and AZ don't mix

So, I had read a ride report about following Black Canyon wash through Cleator, and eventually through to Crown King, AZ. From there, I was going to ride down Tiptop, if it was open, or just reverse route back to Bumble Bee. Seemed like a decent DRZ ride, so to avoid riding a bunch of highway, I loaded up the bike yesterday and drove up I-17 ready to hit the trail about 0645.

Once I got suited up, I took a quick picture of the thunderstorm over the Bradshaws.


I rode a couple miles and ran into a guy in a jeep heading the other way. By this time, it was looking mighty dark, and has started spitting rain where I was. The jeep guy said that he was getting out before the wash got flooded. He has a cabin he's been going to for 20+ years, and had been trapped up there before by flash floods.
So, I bid him farewell and press on about 4 more miles, as the rain starts pouring down. I cross the wash a couple times, and I'm starting to see a lot of water rushing down the trail and little side washes. It's still raining like crazy up on top of the mountains, and I'm picturing a wall of soot black water and burned up trees trapping me in there, so I turn around. As I'm heading out, it's raining harder, and the trail is mostly just a stream. I finally climb out to the truck and call it an early day.About 14 miles total riding and 120 miles in the truck.

Well, I loaded up and hit the trail again today about 0700. I went to the first wash crossing, and ran into this:

The water was probably 3-4 feet deep. I couldn't tell, beause it was very muddy. Here you can see that sometime yesterday the water had gotton over 9 feet up the bank. Glad I turned around and made it out when I did, otherwise I would have spent the night out there.

So, I hit the crown king road, and went up to Cleator, hoping to catch the second half of the trail, starting on Blue Bell Rd. About a mile in, I came to a wash crossing with about a foot of flowing water. I scouted up and down the bank, until I found a spot that was all rock, where the wash widened out a bit. I walked across using a stick to test the depth and look for deep mud, then went back and crossed on the bike without issue. Away I went!
About 3 miles in, I made a hard left turn and started a looooong climb up onto some tall rocky ridges. All the soil had washed away in the rain, so every hill was like a rocky streambed.
Along with the swarms of flying ants, kicked off by all the rain, I saw a bunch of these rediculously bright red beetle things. Some kind of martain mutant bug:

Eventually the trail started down. And I mean DOWN, a rocky, nasty, winding hill, that I had a pretty good idea I'd never make it back up again if I had to turn around. So naturally, when I get to the bottom of this miles long hill, I run into a raging torrent of a black river, completely impassable to the trail on the other side. I have no pictures of this, because I was trying to save battery on my phone, in case I ended up having to hike out, and needed the map on it to navigate by. Anyway, I turned the bike around and started up. The first 25 yards took about 20 minutes of struggling for traction, pushing, and cussing. Once I finally got some momentum, I cleared the rest of the climb just fine. Starting from a dead stop on a soaking wet rocky trail, on a heavy bike with shinko dualsport tires is not the recommended solution to this hill. The Rekluse'd 200 with a the trials tire may have been the right tool for the job, but that DRZ never ceases to amaze me. I just put it in first, and let it chug, just shy of breaking loose the rear tire, and it will go up and down darn near anything, even with the crummy DS tire! Plus it will do 65 down the highway and sip fuel like a friggin' Prius.
Anyway, I worked my way back to that Blue Bell road, and followed it to what I assume is Blue Bell Mine:




I threw a rock in that little square hole in the mine covering and it took a long time before I heard it hit. I started wondering how many bodies get dumped out there, when I realized I was alone and unarmed in the middle of the desert, so moved on to happier thoughts...
Eventually I got near the town of Mayer. I hung a right on Antelope Creek rd, and followed it to a trail 9218a black canyon trail. This Black Canyon trail is odd, because signs for it appear all over the place as a hiking/horseback/bicycle trail, and where I started the ride from, its nice looking hiking trail, so I kpet kept off. Further in, signs for it kept appearing in the middle of obvious jeep road, so even though the black canyon trail signage looked the same, it was obviously sharing trail with some of the jeep roads. Very confusing, and I'll have to check the MVUM to make sure I'm all legal. Ended up on a really pretty Plateau:

So now I head down yet another impossible to re-climb trail. Yes, I don't learn those lessons easily.
The pictures don't do it justice:


At the bottom everything was washed out, but no flowing water. The edges of the bank were vertical drops of about 6 ft, so I hunted around for a good place to cross, and chose poorly:


Who knew there was quicksand around here? It was really weird, step on it, and you'd sink right in, then it would hold you like cement, until you wriggled some air around your boot. It was a really peachy time trying to extricate myself and the bike from this pit of doom. After about 20 minutes of digging, pulling, and cursing, followed by another 10 minutes of scraping 300 pounds of mud off the rear tire/wheel/brake/fender, the rest of the ride back into Cleator was a piece of cake. I may need to invest in one of those lifting strap things. There is nowhere to grab that DRZ to lift back there. At least I didn't end up like this guy on the Crown King Rd:


Sure am enjoying this DRZ. Its such a hoot to go exploring all these places that having a plate opens up to you.

Psycho
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Old 07-15-2012, 07:41 PM   #2
Reidy008
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Love it.

Looks like lots of fun and a good adventure. Cool stuff.
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:41 PM   #3
Nightstalker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psycho18th View Post
Eventually the trail started down. And I mean DOWN, a rocky, nasty, winding hill, that I had a pretty good idea I'd never make it back up again if I had to turn around. So naturally, when I get to the bottom of this miles long hill, I run into a raging torrent of a black river, completely impassable to the trail on the other side. I have no pictures of this, because I was trying to save battery on my phone, in case I ended up having to hike out, and needed the map on it to navigate by. Anyway, I turned the bike around and started up. The first 25 yards took about 20 minutes of struggling for traction, pushing, and cussing. Once I finally got some momentum, I cleared the rest of the climb just fine. Starting from a dead stop on a soaking wet rocky trail, on a heavy bike with shinko dualsport tires is not the recommended solution to this hill. The Rekluse'd 200 with a the trials tire may have been the right tool for the job, but that DRZ never ceases to amaze me. I just put it in first, and let it chug
I've been down that hill. Didn't think we'd make it back up. No water in that creek so we continued on to Desoto mine.
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Old 07-16-2012, 07:50 AM   #4
Yardstick
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I heard the main Crown King road got washed out. I'm guessing that's where the SUV was? That area can't catch a break! Fires and then flooding and road washouts. Yikes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Psycho18th View Post
This Black Canyon trail is odd, because signs for it appear all over the place as a hiking/horseback/bicycle trail, and where I started the ride from, its nice looking hiking trail, so I kpet kept off. Further in, signs for it kept appearing in the middle of obvious jeep road, so even though the black canyon trail signage looked the same, it was obviously sharing trail with some of the jeep roads. Very confusing, and I'll have to check the MVUM to make sure I'm all legal.
The Black Canyon Trail is a foot/hoof/pedal trail. There are still some sections that are shared with motorized trail, so it can get confusing. The main thing for now is to stay off the singletrack portions.
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Old 07-17-2012, 04:09 AM   #5
Achtung
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I can't believe you got that thing out without a winch. Maybe bring a shovel next time.
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:36 AM   #6
Purcell69
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Ahhh, riding in monsoon season! Good call on turning back before you were flooded in. Yes, AZ has quicksand, as you found out. I did the same thing with my XL350R back in 1985. It took me about 30 minutes of pulling and tugging and digging before I got it out and by the time I did, I was almost waist deep in the stuff. I was late for class and walked in dripping of wet sand and mud. My teacher just shook her head and I replied, "Don't ask."

Good Times!

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Old 07-17-2012, 10:35 AM   #7
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Great stuff.

It's reports like this that keep me extremely cautious in wet conditions in the southwest. I've read too many reports of bikes stuck in deep mud, and burned out clutches. I know I could be stuck knee deep in this stuff really quick if not careful. Good job getting the bike out of there - not sure I could pull the DR650 out of that.
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:09 PM   #8
Oldone
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Very unique....

For some strange reason, a part of this isn't looking like too much fun. I suppose it could have something to do with RAIN! Thanks for the RR though.


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Old 07-15-2013, 01:34 PM   #9
refokus
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Nice RR and photos. Looks like a lot of fun....

I love riding in that area. I bet Turkey Creek is running hard and making us some new adventures along the way.
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:42 PM   #10
Reidy008
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A Year old

Did you see this RR is over a year old?
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:07 AM   #11
Psycho18th OP
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Thanks for the comments. That was definitely an adventure. Recent posts probably because I linked to this one from a recent RR.
Psycho
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Old 07-16-2013, 05:41 PM   #12
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Hey, I'm glad it was brought back up. I hadn't seen it before. I got stuck like that. Had to walk out a few miles in moto boots and call my wife to come get me.Went back the next day with a shovel and a come-a-long and it still took 2 hrs to get it out. Mud in Alabama is very sticky in some places.
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:59 PM   #13
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I hate it when that happens!

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Old 07-18-2013, 11:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reidy008 View Post
Did you see this RR is over a year old?
No, not until now after reading your comment. WTF is going on here, someone bumping up an old report and all.......

It still looks like a good time.
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Old 07-18-2013, 03:50 PM   #15
Motoman_AZ
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Looks like a great adventure! I love that area of the state. And yes black clouds mean things can change in an instant. I've been chased on my CRF by flash floods before! Thanks for posting up!
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