Burro Creek Camp Out (M O E )
November 11 - 15, 2010
by Dan Messersmith
Participants: Jim & Jeanne Jacobs; John Marnell; Ingrid Purder & Elke Meister w/Scotty; Dan & Jan Messersmith w/Buddy; Ellen Miller; Nelson Miller; AnnMarie Nelson w/Buddha & Bailey; Doug & Nancy Nunn w/Kiva, Max & Tyler; Mignon Sletz; Dick & Connie Taylor w/Sassy; Ken & Ava Todd w/Bodie; Larry & Joann Van Bynen Saturday Day-trip Only: Jim Byrne; Gary & Cathy Myers
Thursday, November 11: Jan and I left Kingman about 2:30pm. As we entered I-40 an Arizona DPS Officer pulled me over. He signaled for me to get out of my vehicle and come back to him. I thought perhaps my lights weren’t working although I had checked them prior to departure. As I approached he pointed behind the trailer and asked if I might want to pick up the remains of my extension cord. It turns out I had done my first bone-head mistake with my trailer, by not unhooking the power cord from the house cord prior to departure. The trailer cord won the tug-a-war and my extension cord was toast. I thanked him, picked up the cord and sheepishly threw it into the trailer. Back on the road, the rest of the trip was uneventful although the low sun lit up the surrounding mountains in every conceivable shades of color and light. Every turn of the highway presented another spectacular view of the Hualapai and Aquarius Mountains. When we arrived at Burro Creek Campground, we found Dick & Connie Taylor and Ann Marie Nelson. We were also expecting to have Doug and Nancy Nunn roll into camp at any time. At about 5 pm, with no Doug & Nancy in sight, we decided to go ahead and go back to Wikieup to have dinner at Eat at Joes BBQ. Along the way Dick got a voice message from Doug that they were on the way, would stop in Kingman for dinner and see us in camp around 7pm. We had a great dinner at the restaurant and returned to camp about 7pm. Doug and Nancy rolled in right behind us. Doug got set up in the campground and as it was getting cold fast, we all retreated to the warmth of our campers for the night.
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Friday, November 12: We were up at 6:30am and while I was walking Buddy saw a some lights in other trailers indicating some life out there in the cold. By 7:30am we could see people out and about. About 8am, Ken Todd rolled in with his rig. When we caught up I found out Ava was coming in later. The campground host came by and introduced himself. He is from Michigan and his name is Jim Musser. A good natured and friendly fellow, we visited awhile and he went on about his daily chores. I grabbed my maps and went to visit with Dick about a run today and found them still trying to air out the motorhome. Seems like Chief Firemaker tried to build a campfire in his hogan to get warm and his new portable Coleman campfire tipped over and melted some of their rug. AFter some good hearted laughter and jest, we got down to business, we discussed possible trails to take today and decided to leave at 10am as it would be a short run. I had some time on my hands and took Buddy for a walk down to the creek. When we got there I found a lot of sign that beaver had been at work gathering cottonwood saplings for food. Lots of tracks, a little beaver scat, drag marks across the sand where they had dragged their cuttings to the creek. I also found a few beaver snacks. (Sticks that had been cleaned of its bark by the hungry little critters while they were harvesting at the site.) I could not see a beaver lodge anywhere up or down the creek nor evidence of any dam workings, so I guessed these beaver may have their dens cut into the creek bank nearby or just been moving through the area. I took one of the beaver snack samples back to camp with me and shared my findings with the others. About 10am, our small day trip party gathered to line up near the restroom facility near the front of the campground. It would be Dick & Connie in the lead with Ann Marie and Doug & Nancy following with me as sweep. We first crossed the old Burro Creek bridge and headed up the old deteriorating highway to show the folks a great overlook of the campground, creek and current Burro Creek Bridges on the current highway. At US93 we headed south to connect with 17 Mile Road (BLM-7510). We were just moving along enjoying the beautiful scenery and rock formations. Just before a windmill along the road we saw a trail going off to the left. We decided we needed to see what was at the other end and headed off up the little trail. It was marked BLM 7524. A short distance in it split with BLM 7524-A
going right and 7524 going left. As 7524 looked to be heading back north and we wanted to go south and west we took the 7524-A route. It was a gorgeous little trail winding in and out of the wash and along fantastic rock formations. It continued both upward and southward. After a couple of stops for comfort and sightseeing we eventually came to a locked gate high up the hill we were climbing in the Poachie Mountain range. It appeared to be a private gate and not a federal agency type. We could only presume at that point it was locked to keep people out of a mining claim. We turned around and headed back down the hill, enjoying the views once more, as we returned to 17 Mile Road. After a short distance more, we found another road off to the left and decided to take a look down it. It did not have a BLM number at this point but would find out it was BLM 7523. Not far off of 17 Mile Road we found some folks camped. They waved and said they were just leaving if we were looking for a good camp ground. We told them we were just sight seeing, but thanks for the offer. A short time later we ‘T’ intersected with BLM 7526. We took it to the left and followed it for some time, again climbing most of the way. The road was narrow and a bit rough, but nothing our vehicles could not handle. Some of the knob hills along the route were a challenge as you could not see over your hood to tell if the road turned or went straight, but other than that it was a great trail. We followed it for some time trying to get to some distinctive rock formations with the intent of perhaps lunching there. However, the trail seemed to just go on and on and Dick decided we should look for a lunch site as we went back down the road. We turned around and found a nice level outcropping of decayed granite and broke out our lunches. The views were nothing less than spectacular. The old trails in this Poachie Range were wonderful. After lunch we took the trail back to 7526 and followed it to 17 Mile Road to continue our journey to Signal Road. Traveling Signal Road back to US93 was a dusty run and we were disappointed that the two water crossings were dry. At US93 we headed into Wikieup for gas prior to returning to camp. At camp we found others had arrived or were arriving. They were: Larry & Joann Van Bynen, Mignon Slentz, Jim & Jeanne Jacobs and John Marnell. We gathered at the Jacob’s camp for cocktails, snacks and as Ann Marie put it, “who going to start with the first lie tonight?” To which was a loud response of volunteers even though they knew they couldn’t win if they were first. After folks broke for dinner, we gathered at the Messersmith’s camp for the evening camp fire where conversations and tall tales continued from cocktail hour. It again was a cold evening so the fire was put out and everyone had retired to their camps by 8:30pm.
Saturday, November 13: Camp got going in normal fashion today with most folks taking care of their camping chores and getting ready for the 9am departure for our day trip. When I went over to consult with Dick on our route today, I found he had been out helping a few of our folks with some minor trailer and camp issues which were all resolved quickly. We started to gather a little before 9am and found that Jim Byrne and Gary & Cathy Myers from Kingman along with Ellen Miller, from Grand Canyon and Nelson Miller, from Apple Valley had arrived. Jim and the Myers would only be joining us for the day trip, but Ellen and Nelson would stay the night with us. A little after 9am we had lined up 13 vehicles with 22 people and 9 dogs. A big group and some might call a handful to keep organized, but set-up and departure went off just fine. Dick was in lead and I was in the sweep position as we headed out for our grand adventure for the day. We counted off to make sure all CB’s were functioning and got to US93 in short order. Our group would be moving a bit slower than regular traffic on the highway so I turned on my flashers to warn on-coming traffic to use the passing lane. We were headed for Nothing, AZ and when we got there we found Nothing was becoming less than Nothing very rapidly. After a short visit where we did nothing at Nothing, we were on the trail again, this time on dirt on BLM 7678. This is a Jeep trail with lots of twists and turns, brush to accommodate pin striping, a rock or two and lots of water cuts that winds its way into Yavapai County toward an old ranch. It is a great little antenna grabbing, side mirror slamming, rock and roll trail with spectacular views and grand rock formations of every description. You could spend a lifetime imagining what all the shapes looked like from the various angles. We worked our way along the bumps and hollows, hills and washes and came out at BLM 7679 that would take us past the ranch. I unfortunately don’t know who is ranching there or how long it has been there, but it is an older operation. We stayed on 7679 and it eventually led us to Bonanza Wash which was our first side trip of the day. We worked our way down the wash encountering a few rock crossing issues and one that required we remove a large rock with a strap hooked to Jim Byrne’s Jeep. We were about 1/2 mile from the end of the wash when we ran into another bad rock blockage. After looking it over and mulling all of our options, we decided that perhaps it could be cleared by most of our vehicles, but was not worth the effort. I walked down the wash a and encountered two more rock challenges the last of which would stop any vehicle we had with us. Dick declared a lunch break. During the break, some folks walked down to the old mill site and gave it a look. After lunch, we turned the convoy around and headed out. Dick had me take the lead at this point and he took the sweep. We moved up the wash to BLM 7669 and followed it across some seriously water cut areas toward Suicide Wash. Before we got there a couple (man and woman) on motorcycles came tearing around a bend in the road. We cleared each other and I warned the rest of our folks they were coming at them. I guess their encounter with the lead vehicle slowed them down enough that there were no problems with them and the other 12 vehicles. Continuing down the trail we finally entered Suicide Wash which had encountered a substantial damage in recent rains and we had to pick our way through a couple of rocky areas and tight squeezes. When we reached the intersection with BLM 7666, we turned off to go see the old historic John & Amy Neal ranch along Burro Creek. It dated from the 1880’s and was, at one time, a very nice ranch with gardens, fruit orchards, irrigation ditches and a large herd of cattle. A very self-sufficient place. We toured the ruins of the old Neal ranch house, the ruins of what may have been a cook house for the cowboys and then headed over to the creek. I got directionally challenged and Jim Jacobs came to the rescue with the proper directions and took us over to the site we wanted to visit. The folks enjoyed the fantastic rock formations created by the flowing water and the dogs had a great frolic in the waters. Having enjoyed our visit there, we headed back to BLM 7666 and made a shallow water crossing of Burro Creek at Six Mile Crossing. The yellow, orange and red leaf colors of the trees were spectacular and the low sun of late autumn greatly intensified their glow. After crossing the creek we started up the long grade towards US93. Some 15 plus miles of twisting shelf roads and mountain grades, we came to the highway and stopped to say farewell to our day trip folks. Larry relayed a story about a modern day horse drive that used his corrals at his ranch as they made their way down to Morristown south of Wickenberg. His story served to relate that these type of cowboy activities are still practiced and are great to observe in modern times. We then did our farewells to Jim Byrne and the Myers who would be returning to Kingman. Some of us went back to Wikieup to top off our gas tanks before returning to camp and others went straight back to camp. It had been a great run. Back at camp folks had dinner and then gathered at the Messersmith’s camp for cocktails and campfire. Mignon fixed up one of her great apple desserts in her Dutch Oven for us to enjoy and enjoy it we did. It had been a grand day and grand run with a grand group of folks.
Sunday, November 14:
John Marnel left camp early today to head up to his daughter’s in Colorado. Others who left this AM would be Elke & Ingrid, Larry & Joann and Mignon. Another 9am gathering with a decreasing group.Today’s group would be Jim & Jeanne, Ann Marie, Ellen, Nelson, Ken & Ava, Dick & Connie and Dan & Jan. Dick took us out to US93 and we headed south to get to a dirt road along the Santa Maria River conveniently named the Santa Maria Road. As the dogs needed to take a comfort break, Dick found a nice little parking area just off of the road and we pulled in to allow all the puppies to have a break. While we were there one of the group (I think it was Ken) found a cemetery. We all went to look at it. There were four graves, all marked with both old board markers that were mostly unreadable and modern granite markers. The inscriptions were: Versevi Ferra, 1891; Dalfina Ferra, 1891; Francis F. Aryola, 1807 and Mother Black. The lack of multiple dates may indicate that they could not read the wood signs when the granite markers were made. More research will be needed to find out any background on the burials. Getting back on the road we observed the Santa Maria Ranch, the larger Little Santa Maria Ranch, some unsuccessful homesteading attempts and a private residence on an large old patented mining claim. When we reached AZ96 we took it to the left to go visit Bagdad, a large modern copper and gold mining operation and company town. We visited some copper artistic sculptures that were put up in honor of all the men and women who have worked the mine at Bagdad. At that point, Jim & Jeanne and Ken & Ava took their leave and headed back to camp to pack up and head for home as both Jeanne and Ava had to be at work on Monday. The rest of us then went to visit Sycamore Creek that was a beautiful creek crossing on the east side of Bagdad. It had been 11 years since Dick had been there and at least 20 years since I had been there. We found that the entire area had been drastically changed and that crossing no longer existed. We could not even find where it used to be. As it was lunch time, we decided to have lunch in the retro 1950’s Bagdad Diner. We hit it when there was a crowd so we had to wait to get our food. It was worth the wait as the portions were huge and the prices were very reasonable. The burgers and fries filled a large oval serving plate. The burgers came with 2 patties and the menu said you could add patties but there was no mention about reducing patties. The onion rings were to die for and unlimited refills on large drinks. The basic burger & fries price was $7.75. All the puppies with us made out too, as none of us could eat all we were given. After we all gorged ourselves, we were back on the road to camp. We wanted to call it an early day. Back at camp we enjoyed the late afternoon visiting and taking the dogs down to the creek for a swim. Our little group gathered for a visit and as it was windy and cooler, we decided a campfire was out for the evening. Ann Marie got her rig packed up and was making a late start to go part of the way back to California. Left in camp were Dick & Connie, Doug & Nancy and Dan & Jan for the evening. Without a campfire we retired to our individual campers and called it a night.
Monday, November 15: We all got our morning coffee and breakfasts and then went to work getting our rigs ready for the trips home. Doug & Nancy were the first to hit the road and then Dick & Connie and Jan & I followed shortly behind. The trip home was uneventful and we all knew we had put another great trip in the record books.