Williams Area Run
Lava Ice Cave and Sycamore Canyon
June 12-14, 2009
By Dick Taylor
Friday, June 12
The following folks and their dogs made this three-day two-night outing. Pete Mallet and his son
Chase, Joe and Julie Stevens, Jim Proffitt, Linda Grundy and her dog Georgie, Dan Messersmith and his dog Buddy and Dick and Connie Taylor and their dog Sassy.
Our starting place was K-Mart parking lot 7 AM Friday morning where we met up with Linda and
her dog Georgie and then Jim pulled in followed by Connie and our dog Sassy. Dan had agreed to meet us in Seligman as he had a Rotary Meeting that same morning. With the introductions completed our party
of four rigs were on the road by the 7:00am starting time.
(click Read More, below, to continue)
Once under way our CB chatter turned up the fact that Linda had worked at a clinic in Peach
Springs when she first arrived in Kingman and she traveled this road back and forth to work for about 5 years. She had many good tales to share of her adventures making these trips.
We made a brief stop in Peach Springs for a short break and a radio adjustment. We were soon on
the road again and as we approached Seligman we could hear Dan on the CB. He was over on Interstate 40 and he let us know that he would get into Seligman at about the same time as we would. We agreed to meet at Westside Lilo's Cafe for a rest stop and coffee.
Our next stop would be Kaibab Camp ground just north of Williams. We took the old Crookton
Road until we had to get on the interstate just shy of Ash Fork. This is a great piece of the old route 66 and you can see where some of the older alignments were located. It was freeway from here on into Williams where we took exit 165 North towards the Grand Canyon. Kaibab Lake Campground is just a couple miles north of the freeway.
Our next task was to find our campsite, which had been worked out by Pete and his son Chase as
they had come in Thursday night to secure the sites. We were to look for a small military trailer that was parked on Pete's site and we could occupy the sites across from them With a bit of noodling around we
found the trailer and made our camps. Pete and son soon arrived from some AM exploring and let us
know that Joe and Julie would not be until tonight due to work schedules. With camp made and all folks
accounted for we started out on our road trip for the day.
Today's trip is to take us to a couple viewpoints into the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness and a ride
though the beautiful pine forest. Our first stop was in Williams for fuel and then we headed out forest
roads 141 & 12 toward White Horse Lake and the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness. A lunch stop was called as we found a nice two-track road to take us to a shady open area just meant for lunch. After lunch and
just before reaching the lake we stopped at the trailhead to Sycamore Falls. This is a rather spectacular dry waterfall that helped carve the canyon in past eons. With a short hike we reached the falls which are very narrow at this point and drop straight down what looked like something over 300 feet to the canyon floor. To see water going over the falls one must be here when the spring-melt is taking place. The only water we could see was the large pool in the depression at the base of the falls.
We were treated with the opportunity to see a rock climber scale the face of a sheer wall and go
up and over the top. He had some partners still at the bottom and we could see the ropes that had been used to repel down and hear the discussion as to what was the best route up and out.
As we continued down the trail the canyon began to get wider and landscape turned to trees and lush greenery. With more to see ahead of us we returned to our rigs for the next leg of our ride. This took us out past White Horse Lake and on to forest road 110 to the canyon's viewpoint. Here we were treated to more spectacular vistas of this vast canyon. It was easy to see that this is truly a wilderness area. There are no roads into this canyon only trails that can be hiked or traveled by horseback.
After taking all that the mind could absorb we got back on the road again and traveled more forest service roads back to a point where we intersected paved road 173 back to Williams. Some folks stopped for ice and other supplies in town prior to returning to camp. Back in camp happy hour and dinner were well under way when Joe and Julie arrived. As darkness over took the group folks turned in for the night.
Saturday June 13
Morning found us cleaning up breakfast things and working on the day's outings. Today would be a two track outing with Pete, Chase, Joe and Julie going south to see an Indian Cliff dwelling found on a prior trip and Linda, Jim, Dan, Connie and Dick going in to Williams and picking up Wayne Irwin who had come out for the day to join us on the lava cave trip. The first group made the long trip out and on their way back were able to show Joe and Julie a couple places that they missed yesterday. The rest of us made our way north over another batch of beautiful forest roads with just a couple of navigation corrections. Just west of the Kendrick Mountain Wilderness we passed through a section of
forest that had recently been burned. It is amazing the destruction a forest fire causes and even more amazing that small pockets of the forest survive the fire and become the starting places for the forest to renew itself. This part of the forest was working very hard on its come back. There were lots of new growth and a wide variety of plant life coming into its own.
We reached the Lava Cave turn off around 11 am and were surprised on the amount of people that had come out to see this attraction. The parking area was almost full and lots of folks were coming and going to the cave. Those that were doing the cave were getting their gear together and we all made the short hike to the entrance.
Now one would think that a lava cave would be like an open tunnel going down slow into the ground, Wrong! This cave was a round hole in the ground going almost straight down before it flattened out and became a tunnel. The underground hike was about a mile and the folks that took it were gone about an hour.
With everyone out and back to their rigs we called for a lunch stop and left the parking area in search of a quieter spot. Not far down the road we found another two-track and made our way off the main road to an open area and enjoyed lunch. After lunch we exited out of the forest to pick up old route 66 next to Interstate 40.
The trip back to camp took us along old 66 all the way into a little community called Parks. We stopped at a place that used to be an old gas station and store, serving route 66 before the interstate. The little store had just recently been reopened and we were glad they had ice cream treats in the freezer. After having our ice cream we said farewell to Wayne who had to return to Kingman and started our last leg back to camp. Now anybody could have taken the freeway back to Williams and been back in camp in about a half hour. But we are not just anybody so our leader took us back to camp through a maze of forest service roads that took us just under a couple hours. Now, it wasn't all his fault as we were misguided by an improperly marked gas-line service road. We were clipping along just great looking for forest road 72 when we blew past the pipeline road. Knowing we had missed our forest road turn we made a u-turn and carefully looked for a road marked 72. Arriving back at the gas line road we saw the 72
marker right next to the gate on the gas line road. We all piled through the gate with the backdoor guy
closing it and were on our way. The map was showing a hard left turn in about a mile or so and we
proceeded up the road. We came upon a big herd of sheep grazing on our left and saw a little two-track
leading in there direction so we continued forward looking for our hard left turn, After going a couple
more miles and finding no hard right we stopped to noodle out what the map and the GPS were telling us.
The conclusion was we were not on the right road, Jim decided to take the gas line road as it was heading
in the direction of camp and the rest of us turned around still looking for our forest road. Jim made it back
to way before the rest of us but he missed the thrill of victory as we followed the two-track through the
sheep and found the forest road 72 and successfully made our though the balance of the maze back to old
66 and then to forest road 71 back to camp. A great little run in its own right.
Back at camp, Linda made up a big batch of Sloppy Joes and working with Connie, provided a
great dinner for our group of day-trippers. Great job Linda and Connie!
Pete and company got in late and did a big dinner at their camp. We had a campfire tonight as we
had gathered up wood along our trail today. All turned in fairly early after the two days of activity.
Sunday, June 14
Up early and after coffee to get us started, Dick and Dan made bacon and scrambled eggs for
breakfast with Linda joining us again while Pete and company were doing a breakfast in their camp.
After breakfast we broke camp and started our separate ways for home. Jim was the first out of
camp as he had the farthest to travel to get back to California. Pete and company were going to visit the
lava cave on their way home and Linda, Dan and Connie and Dick were going to visit one of the old
dams the railroad had built about one hundred years ago to provide water for their steam engines. This
dam still holds water today and is used by many a local fisherman.
After we arrived at the Stone Dam and its little lake, the dogs had a great time playing in the water
and the people did their good deed for the day by picking up a bunch of litter and putting out the
campfire of the nighttime party folks.
Leaving the lake we headed for Seligman for lunch at Lilo's. Lilo's has to be the best lunch place along
this stretch of road as three Arizona Highway Patrol cars came in for lunch just as we were leaving.
From here it was an uneventful ride home to Kingman via historic Route 66. We had a great time and look
forward to seeing more of you on our next outing.