Western Backroads

Welcome to Virgil and Marcia's blog. We take many weekend trips to places in Arizona and the Southwest. This is a place where family and friends can read about where we've been and what we've seen. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lake Pleasant to Crown King

Every year the Arizona Virtual Jeep Club has their annual run from Lake Pleasant to Crown King. This road is also known as the back way to Crown King and is a very challenging trail. When the club was originally formed, this was the first trail they did together, so they have been repeating the trip every August.

Dave was planning on going, but Kathy didn't want to, so I rode shotgun with him. Paul also went in our group with Steve riding along. Kathy and Marcia stayed in Phoenix and did a little shopping and took naps while they waited for us.

In total, there were over 100 Jeeps signed up for the trip. Groups began leaving the trailhead at 5am and were spaced every hour for most of the morning. We were on the 8am run and met up with the approximately 30 Jeeps in our group.

Here is a picture looking back on the second half of our group. There were about 8 Jeeps in front of these that I didn't get a good picture of.

Near the beginning of the trail, the scenery was desert mountains and you could see for miles back over Lake Pleasant and towards the city. You can't see Lake Pleasant in the second picture here, but it's off in that direction.

The trail progressively gets harder the further you go. Here is Paul and Steve climbing the first obstacle.

Here is another guy in our group climbing up the same obstacle. I wasn't surprised he started having engine problems not much further along. That Cherokee wasn't abused in the slightest. Nope.

Here is a pretty picture looking back towards where we had just come from.

The next obstacle was one of the harder ones. It had two spots that made for a challenging climb. Dave and I were the 5th Jeep back at this point and watched the guys in front of us go up.

Here’s a photo of Paul and Steve on their way up with the others waiting behind.

Dave kicked me out of the Jeep to help spot for him as he came up. Here’s a photo of him climbing the hardest part of this obstacle.

Paul then came along and got hung up on the rock in the middle.

He backed off and came to the right more and made it up.

Paul and Steve climbing on out back to the main road.

Here is another shot towards the south as we waited for the rest of the group to catch up.

Our 8am group stopped for lunch and a smaller group from the 9am run caught up to us there. Dave and Steve knew Randy from our Meetup group, so after lunch we joined up with Mike in the yellow Jeep, Randy in the silver Jeep, David in the 2nd silver Jeep, and Paul and Steve bringing up the tail.

The vegetation at this level started getting quite a bit larger as we rose out of the desert and got into the higher mountain elevations. The trail was narrower and consisted of some fairly tight switchbacks climbing into the Bradshaw Mountains.

Along the way we passed the site of the Oro Belle Mine. Just before there we had to go through the wash area known as the rock garden. At one point I had to get out and stack up some rocks so Dave could get clearance to make it over a large boulder. Just after the mine was a challenging climb over some large boulders that we made it through fairly easy. Here's a photo of Mike going through one of those rougher spots.

About 2 miles south of Crown King, we started catching up to the 7am group. They had over 40 Jeeps in their group and were delayed for a long time by a breakdown that blocked the whole trail so nobody could make it past. Here's the last guy in their group taking the climb over a huge boulder. Our group of 5 simpley drove the left of this boulder.

A little bit further along, we stopped for a break in the shade of the pine trees.

After arriving in Crown King, we walked around and went into the General Store to buy t-shirts, fudge, and ice cream. Here is a photo of the saloon and another shop in front of it.

Just to the south of those is the fire station with all the vehicles lined up in front.

Then, there is the General Store.

Now, for the lesson of the day. For any of you looking at these pictures and thinking "I'd like to try to go on the back way to Crown King." -- Do not attempt this trail in a stock vehicle. -- Well, go ahead if you want to destroy it. One of the guys in the 8am group brought his stock Ford Explorer. After our surprise wore off that he actually made it all the way up, we stopped and tooke some pictures.

Busted out back window.

Bent running boards.

Mangled front bumper.

Cut in tire sidewall.

Matching bent running boards.

Dented and scratched front quarter panel.

Bent frame under front axle.

Concaved skid plate under gas tank.

Another shot of gas tank skid plate where you can also see the dented in muffler.