Wednesday, October 16
Today we did a sort of guided tour of roads Fish Slough & Red Rock Canyon. Mary had been wanting to do this drive since we saw some pictures from Jim & Galye. It takes off just a mile from our camp so we thought it would be a good time to do it. The entire route is on a pretty good 33 mile graded dirt road. There is an alternate route that deviates from that standard and become a rough 2 track, 4 wheel drive path.
We started out around 10 AM and before long we reached the first of a couple of petroglyph sites. These are always fun to scramble around. As many as we’ve seen, I still find them interesting. It’s always a guess as to whether they were created 1000 years ago or perhaps forged sometime in the recent past. We dawdled at this one, and later, another site for an hour or so before moving on.
Going forward, we came to the area Mary was most interested in. The dirt track abruptly narrows to a single lane before moving into a series of red rock formations riddled with weathered eroded holes. It was interesting, but at mid-day, the photographic opportunities were a little limited. The guide we had told us to look for the prospector carved, bas-relief, into the side of the first of the formations as we emerged from it. It took some doing, but we did locate it. No one seems to know who did it, or how long this creation has been here. Of course it was riddled with bullets. Par for the course in this territory.
The road traveled through several more narrow formations before climbing out again. At this point, the guide told us we could take a spur road named 4S41at mile 25. Only when we got there, at exactly mile 25, it was named 4S34A. I really hate when this happens. This had to be it, right? Oh well, we had a pretty full tank of gas and just enough courage to attempt it. The road did exactly as the guide said it would. It got rough and rocky and rose up the cliff for about a mile. We were almost sure it was the right road. At the top, we were rewarded with a wonderful view of the White Mountains and valley below. Even it it was wrong, it was worth it. We lunched at our chosen viewpoint and enjoyed the view for a while before moving on.
The road beyond here wasn’t as rough as before, but still we weren’t sure we were on track. It did still roughly coincide with the written guide, so we persevered – though Mary was beginning to exhibit her characteristic reluctance with the unknown. The path jogged left when it was supposed to and right when it was supposed to. The last part was described as “descending a very steep, rocky stretch – definitely a 4WD experience!”. It was. I thinkI the poor RAV4 reached it’s tolerance point on this trail. Rocky? Yes. Steep? Yes. The guide didn’t mention the drop-offs, of which there were several. For a real 4WD vehicle, no problem. With the RAV? Well gosh, not a big problem, but I was definitely nervous about my clearance. I could have really used a compound low for this stretch, but the RAV doesn’t have one. Or at least some better armor on the undercarriage to cover my mistakes. We literally crawled down the slope, making heavy use of the breaks. We made it down unscathed. But I do wish they would correct their signs or the guide. From there it was just a rather boring zoom back to camp. We went into town to shop and use some free wifi to upload images and send mail, then back to camp for the evening.