Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Woodpecker Trail and Box Canyon with Jean and Don.


The Group.

We wanted to take our friends Jean and Don on a semi difficult rock crawl so they could have an idea of what we do.
They have never experienced rock crawling before and are not likely to do it again so this would probably be a once in a life time experience for them.

Johnie also wanted to do Woodpecker Trail before he and Diane went back to North Carolina.

I tried to lead the Wednesday Jeep group on a ride to Woodpecker a few weeks ago but couldn’t find the trailhead. 

Today, Diane, Johnie, Sue, Denis, Lise and Frank also came along to make sure we found the trail.

This time I put the coordinates for the trailhead into my GPS in the hope that that would help me find the trail.

Getting Going.

We made arrangements to meet Johnie and the Canadians (That sounds like a name for a rock band), at the Circle K gas station around 9:30.

A little after 9:00 Jean and Don showed up at our place and we went to the local Subway sandwich shop to get sandwiches for our lunch.
We met the rest of the group at Circle K by 9:30 and after gassing up we headed toward Florence. At Florence we headed north on Highway 79. We turned east on Cottonwood Canyon Road.


We continued on Cottonwood Rd. enjoying the wildflowers.


Eventually we came to where several trails come together.
Here is where I got confused the last time I tried to find the Woodpecker Trail.
The GPS got us to this point okay but it is still a very confusing place.

I thought I had found the correct wash and turned onto it.


I only went a short distance when I realized that this wasn’t the trail.
Meanwhile Denis took a different trail and told me that I was on the wrong one and that he had found the correct trail. It is a good thing that Denis was with us because he knew the trail.

Finally on Woodpecker Trail.

We headed up the wash and after a while we noticed that the trail had changed a lot since the last time we were here. It was a lot smoother than we remembered.


There was a small road that followed the trail occasionally crossing the wash.


First Rocks.

Someone had drawn this sign on a large rock pointing up the trail.


Shortly after passing this rock sign we came to a place that looked more like what we remembered of the trail.


We got over this little obstacle without much trouble and waited for the rest of the group to catch up.
Eventually Frank and Lise showed up and we waited for Johnie and Denis. We waited a long time for them and called on the radio to find out what they were doing.They said that they had found a couple of challenges off the trail to play on and they would be along shortly.

We waited some more and waited some more. I called them on the radio again and Denis said that Johnie was hung up on a small rock and we should come back to where they were.

Johnie on the Rocks.

They had found this rock alongside the road, off the trail and had decided to try climbing over it. Denis made it but Johnie with his jeeps longer wheel base had a bit of a problem.


The jeep had slid to the side and was up against the side of a rock wall in the back.


First they tried using a farm jack to move the jeep to the side with out much success.

Eventually they hooked a strap from the back Johnie’s jeep to Frank’s jeep.


They were able to move Johnie’s jeep a few inches away from the rock wall.


Next they tried jacking the jeep up and putting rocks under the tire so Johnie could drive up the rock.


That wasn’t working so finally it was decided that Denis would pull Johnie’s jeep from the front while Frank kept a strain on the back tow strap to keep Johnie form sliding back against the rock wall.


Working together they managed to get Johnie’s jeep off the rock.


This is what rock crawling is all about and why you always go with a group if possible and if not you don’t try the hard stuff.

Johnie was lucky that he only had a few scrapes along the top of his jeep.


A little black paint should cover that up nicely.

His rear fender flair also got a few scratches. No serious damage.



By the time Johnie’s jeep was freed it was time for lunch so we found a place with a little shade to eat. The temperature was already approaching the low 90’s.


Back on the Trail.

After lunch we continued along the wash.


We encountered several mild obstacles along the way.


Most we crossed with ease.

Some were a bit sketchy but no one had to be towed.



As we creeped along climbing over obstacles we had time to enjoy all the pretty wildflowers.



More Bumps.

We continued bumping along the trail.


Some of the bumps were more exciting than others.


Trails End.

Eventually we got to where the “Trail From Hell” joins Woodpecker Trail.

This trail is rated as extreme.
We climbed out of the wash here.

The first couple obstacles on this trail looked pretty easy so
Denis wanted to try them. We watched him and Johnie from the road above.


Johnie following Denis over these obstacles.


Just past these bumps is a steep exit route up the side of the wash.


Heading Home.

Once we were all out of the wash we decided that it was too hot to stay out here playing any longer so we drove over the mountain to Ajax Mine trail.


Once on Ajax Mine trail  we soon arrived back on Cottonwood Canyon Road.

In under an hour we were back to Highway 79 where we headed for Florence. We stopped at The Riverside Saloon for a cold one before heading for home.
Once we were in Coolidge, Jean, Don, Patti and I stopped at the Jalapeño #2 Mexican restaurant. The food wasn’t that good so we probably won’t eat there again.

That was our ride on the Woodpecker Trail. It was fun and exciting but it was a very hot day.


Box Canyon.

Box Canyon is a misnomer as it isn’t actually a box canyon since it is open at both ends. It is actually a “Slot Canyon”, either way, it is a beautiful spot.

The Plan.

Jean and Don like to hike so I decided that we would take them to Box Canyon. We would drop them off at the entrance to the canyon. Then we would drive through and wait for them at the other end and drive back through the canyon.

Let’s Go.

Jean and Don showed up at our place around 9:00 and we went to Subway again to get our lunches.

From there we headed for Florence where we drove to the staging area off the Diversion Dam Road.
We stopped here to air down and got on Price Road heading east. At some point Price Road becomes Box Canyon Road. We continued along.

As we got closer we could see the mountains that Box Canyon goes through.


Entering the Canyon.

At the entrance to the canyon we dropped Jean and Don off for their walk.


It is right at one mile from here to the other end.
We left them to walk while we drove into the canyon.


As we slowly drove along, we took a picture of these wildflowers that are growing along the canyon walls. I don’t know what these are but they sure are pretty.


We crept along a little deeper into the canyon…


enjoying the beauty of the place.


We found a nice place to stop in the shade and wait for Jean and Don.
As we were setting up our chairs I noticed some Miners Lettuce growing among the weeds.


These little plants are a sweet eatable plant; I have often added these to salads. Of course I ate a few while we were siting there.

As we sat around waiting for Jean and Don we noticed flowers growing on the cliff side.

I don’t know what these are called but we see them often in the desert.


These pretty red flowers we were told were called Firecracker Penstemon.


According to Jean this is another type of Penstemon


Patti noticed these tiny yellow flowers at the ends of  these tall stalks.


Here is what they look like close up.


High on the cliff side we saw these white flowers that look like Daisy’s.


Here is some kind blue flower.


Above our head we noticed this abandoned Paper Wasp nest. It is a good thing it is abandoned.


A small lizard scampered above our heads.


I don’t know what this on this leaf but it is interesting.


Eventually Jean and Don showed up and we sat in the shade of the cliff enjoying the coolness.  We had our lunch and visited for an hour or so. Eventually we headed back through the canyon and went home.


Back at the RV we taught Jean and Don how to play our favorite Rummy game “Jokers Rummy” aka “Rummy for Dummies”.

Around 6:00 we followed them to Casa Grande and had supper at Mimi’s. A French restaurant. I had the French Pot Roast and it was very good. Patti had Meat Loaf and said it was good as well.
Jean had Chicken Crepes and declared them quite good.
Don had some kind of chicken dish; it consisted of a leg,a thigh and a back. He said the flavor was good but there were a lot of small bones in it so it was hard to eat.

It was a good relaxing day.
Jean and Don really enjoyed their walk through the canyon.

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