Sunday morning we took down camp with the intention of finding a more primitive and remote place to stay, setup, and spend the day wheeling. On the way out, James from New York in the recently purchased Expeditions West Tacoma was having problems keeping the truck running. Funny how it’s always the most uber rig that breaks down! James decided it was best to cut his adventure short and head back to the main road. They see me rollin’… (rolling because the engine stopped?)
We decided on a nice wooded area. It was a great blend of primitive and developed; deep in the woods, off the main road, but with picnic tables and rock fire rings. It was also nice in that we were a bit dispersed. No worries about waking up the neighbors with my snoring!
Since on Day 1 we discovered our intended route was not going to work, I busted out the topo maps on my laptop and found a “Jeep Trail” that followed the southern and eastern border of the National Monument land. We left our things at the camp and headed out for an unknown wheeling adventure! The trail was nice and featured small rocks in dusty dirt through tight vegetation and scenic shelves.
Along the way I spotted on the topo an offshoot that lead to what appeared to be an incredibly long tunnel, the Kasper Tunnel. Luckily as the trail dead-ended at the tunnel there was a clearing where we all easily park and turn around.
And there it is!
We walked in a ways and saw some light. The light came from a hole in the ceiling and to everyone’s surprise it was the bottom end of a mine shaft! It was the first time I’d viewed I mineshaft from the bottom up, that’s for sure. After the shaft the tunnel continued, but after walking about 20 feet I started to spot gigantic and nasty spiders… and then bats. No thanks!
We left the tunnel and continued back to the trail. We reached Hands Pass (we later found that this trail is called the Hands Pass trail in literature) and continued north. By this time we had been on the trail for a few hours, having left around lunch time. A decision had to be made: turn back the way we came and make it to camp around nightfall, or continue on in attempt to make a large clockwise loop of different routes I’d put together on the maps. Of course we decided to continue! Battling blue screens on my laptop, I lead the group down forest roads and the like, even passing through the enchanting town of Paradise, AZ.
The scenery as we made it back to camp was fantastic…
Back at the campsite a good time was had by all discussing the day’s adventures over the fire. Since it was Memorial Day the next day and the highway might be even less fun than normal, I devised a dirt route from Wilcox back to Oracle, passing through Cascabel and Benson. Most were interested in trying it out and a few in possibly doing a run on the north side of the Santa Catalinas, time permitting.