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2020 - Trip Reports - Escaping the Fall Color Crowds

Escaping the Fall Color Crowds

by Joeso

Sue and I thought it would be nice to lead a Fall Colors DE Trip in the Flagstaff area, maybe in 2021 when COVID is behind us? So, we were happy when folks in our “social bubble” including Ron, Mignon and Vicki said they’d like to join us for a pre-run this year. Before Sue and I could go, however, I needed to get the differential of our Skamper camper truck put back together. As last reported, all the required parts had been rounded up and I “just” needed to put it all together. This turned out to be quite a sensitive task. I had read on the internet about all the critical specs required, but not having a dial gauge, a 10 inch/pound torque wrench or electronic digital calipers, I had to use the old “feeler” gauge. When it felt right, I locked it in. Finally, with everything bolted back together and no spare parts left over, it was time to take it off the jacks and go for a test drive. But when I put it in gear to back out of the garage, it didn’t move. The differential seemed to be locked up and the truck wouldn’t move forward or reverse. I was nearing panic mode when I finally realized I had forgotten to remove the safety blocks that were securely placed around the front wheels. Luckily, with the blocks removed everything checked out OK and the truck performed well during the trip.

The Fall colors in the Flagstaff area are spectacular, but so are the hordes of people enjoying the colors. Snowbowl Road has some outstanding color but there are so many people enjoying it that it was really hard tofind a spot to park. Even the 4WD road into Lockett Meadow was jammed with all kinds of cars. When we finally reached Lockett Meadows, it was so crowded that we just turned around and skedaddled. Fortunately, we had several interesting spots to check out that thankfully had not been recently written up in “Arizona Highways.” 

North of Flagstaff we found the old Red Butte Airfield. This was the site of the first scenic flights over the Grand Canyon which began in 1927 and eventually made use of Ford Tri-Motor airplanes. In those days there was a “Great House” adjacent to the airfield that rivaled the El Tovar Lodge. At the time of our visit, the old hanger and several out buildings were still standing.

On day two we stopped for a pleasant lunch at Hull Cabin, just a short ways from the Grand Canyon South Rim. The cabin and barn were constructed with hand-hewn logs put together by the William Hull family in the 1880s. The property was acquired by the Forest Service in 1907 and used for a short while as a ranger station.

Our most unique find was the Grandview Lookout Tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. The 80 foot steel tower is still very sturdy and affords quite a view from the top.

After leaving our dispersed camp on day three we warmed up with a hike into Gold Pond and Sycamore Falls in Sycamore Canyon, the second largest canyon in Arizona redrock country. The creek flowing through Sycamore Canyon is a tributary of the Verde River. We found the best Fall color in Sycamore Canyon and no one else was around.

Our kind of place.

There is a very scenic Verde Canyon Railroad trestle just west of Perkinsville.

A wonderful old plaque riveted on it indicated it was constructed in 1898 and refurbished in 1928.

East of Ashfork we found two railroad dams constructed by the Santa Fe to provide water for their non condensing steam engines. One dam was very rare, being only 1 of 3 steel dams constructed and the last one in use. The Ashfork-Bainbridge Steel Dam was built in 1898 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Half a mile away is the Stone Dam constructed in 1911 using huge blocks of pink sandstone. There was significant water behind both dams. 

Quite a find for us was the JD Cabin and homestead deep in the Kaibab Forest. The site was purportedly settled by James Douglas in the 1870s. A cabin and barn were still standing.

And of course we drove Old Route 66 both coming and going. It is always a pleasure.

So please plan to join us whenwe can finally use what we have learned and do an official trip, hopefully next Fall. ~ Joeso


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