Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Circle Seven Creek camping- 2015

We sold our little trailer two years ago. On an attempted camping  trip to Rockhound State Park, a  broken part that wouldn't allow us to use our propane cylinder was the last in an almost never ending series of malfunctions that put us over the edge. That, and the fact that it was just too small and without a bathroom. Even though the thing put us out in the forest  and desert to camp, much, much more than we ever would have had we still been tent camping, it was a headache from the get-go. Rare, and I mean very rare were the trips where everything worked as it should,or some significant damage didn't occur.  So,before I relate the following camping story, I must ask anyone out there, Is this just how it is with trailers, or perhaps with camping in general? Is the nature of the entire enterprise that  things will go wrong and wrong and wrong?
 More or less on a whim, we bought a new tent and a new camping stove  and decided to go tent camping for the first time in 10 years. We chose one of our favorite old spots: Circle Seven Creek. Now, if you search through archives of this blog, you will discover that at times we definitely have a taste for the remote in our camping choices. Circle Seven Creek on the northeast edge of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in the Gila's Black Range is about as remote as car camping gets in the southern half of the state.
 Off we went on Friday( Good Friday) morning. After checking  with the Forest Service in T or C about trail conditions and buying some new maps to replace my well worn ones from 1998, we got a sandwich and were on our way.
 Past Winston, Chloride and the St. Cloud zeolite  mine we got onto Forest  Road 157. I'm happy to report road conditions on this formerly  horrendous bone and kidney rattler have improved substantially, though progress on it is quite slow for us city folk. Still, it was a welcome change, if, perhaps only a temporary one. The road follows Monument Canyon, then traverses a mesa to then follow North Fork Palomas( both had water) and then crosses another mesa to follow Circle Seven Creek. It's really a  beautiful drive through open meadows, mesas and hills. Just before traversing another upland area, we turned at the windmill and tank that marks the beginning of the Circle Seven road( FR 730). This road is one lane job that hasn't improved at all. The stream crossings were steep enough to bounce the rear end of the pick-up several times, and our clearance is not too shabby. But I was happy to see  the creek flowing for the first time in four visits, and we persevered  until we found the perfect spot to camp.
 We got the tent  and our camp set up without too much trouble. The weather was gorgeous, and  the burbling creek a few feet away gave an all's right with the world feeling to our expedition. My wife asked me to move the truck a 90 degree turn from where it was parked. I obliged, got in and turned the key. Nothing. Not a single rumble or crank. Nothing.There was an immediate desire to panic. We were well out of cell range, down a little used side road in a very remote section of the Gila that sees virtually no people apart from fall deer and spring turkey hunting seasons. Although we had passed a very few ranch houses once  on FR 157,  it was highly unlikely we would find any help any closer than the Winston-Chloride area over a dozen miles away.
 I walked down to the truck and trailer we had passed on the way in and left a note, but we had no way of knowing if  whoever it belonged to was just out for the day or several days. I went out for a second walk later to the very end of Circle Seven Road and even climbed a few hills in a vain attempt to get some cell service.
 As I got back to camp where my wife was cooking dinner, I had only begun to wrap my mind around the idea that my plans  for getting to Diamond Peak were done for, and that the only walking I'd  be doing tomorrow would be toward Winston and Chloride to get help,  when I  heard a man's voice coming from down the trail as if directing some animals.And then, within seconds, a pack of 22  dogs quietly invaded our campsite, soon followed by their owner on horseback. It was a hilarious scene reminiscent of the Bumpus dogs in " A Christmas Story" as they calmly tried to eat and drink everything in sight. I  very briefly talked with the man that was their leader , David Welty, who had been out mountain lion hunting all day, and I'm sure he was as tired and hungry as his animals, yet he led them all down the road  and put them in his trailer ( no small feat I'm sure)which he had to  unhook, and drove back up and gave us the jump start and even offered further assistance if we needed it.  Mr. Welty seemed like someone I would respect no matter how our views may differ, a quiet, unassuming individual to which we are very indebted.
 We drove the hour and a half to T or C only to see the two auto parts stores were closed and have Walmart sold out of the right battery. We had little choice but to stay the night  and chose the Ace Lodge for sentimental reasons( many years ago we had car trouble out in the San Mateo Mountains and had to stay the night in T or C as well)  and for the short walk it would be to the auto parts store. With the help of some wine and beer from the nearby Los Arcos drive-up liquor store, we passed the rest of the night pleasantly enough despite the circumstances.
 The  next morning, I walked down to the O'Reilly and purchased a battery and with a lift and help from a very nice young fellow who worked there, we were on the road( after stopping at the hopping McDonalds for breakfast) and back to our campsite by 9:45 and shortly thereafter on the trail.
 After our hike( see previous blog), we had a good dinner and a nice fire, but spent a rather cold night in the tent and wished we could have borrowed a  few of those dogs for warmth, despite Seamus doing his best to be a little heater.
 Sunday morning was beautiful and we walked to the end of the road after exploring Whiskey Spring Canyon a bit.
 our beautiful camping spot

1 comment:

clairz said...

Bumpus dogs! That phrase alone helped me to see the scene perfectly. This was a wonderful post that brought back many camping mishaps (locked the keys in the trunk of the car, forgot the tent pegs, didn't put on the hand brake at the entry point when I got out to pay and the car rolled away with the toddler in the car seat waving merrily, and that's not counting the ferocious lightning storms spent cowering in a tiny tent under giant swaying trees). Thank you for the laughs--I'm so glad it was you this time and not me.