February 28 – March 11, 2018
After leaving Tonto National Forest, I drove north on Hwy 260 towards Payson, AZ, and camped at Flowing Springs just north of Payson. That night there was a small dusting of snow, and a full moon. I spent a couple of nights here, and drove into Payson during the day to play catch-up on emails, pictures and so on.
Then onto Sedona, AZ. I noticed that the National Forest had been working very hard on improving the dispersed camping areas around Sedona, and it was harder to find a place to camp than in previous years. This is due to the huge increase in travelers and vagabonds to the area. Inevitably, the more people there are visiting an area the more damage there is to the environment. Sadly, many humans are incapable of monitoring their own behavior, and over time the camping areas around Sedona and Cottonwood are being destroyed. Campers leave their trash and drive beyond the boundary lines of a campsite, making the site bigger and bigger, until eventually the BLM and/or National Forest is forced to put huge boulders around the edge of the site and even close some areas off completely. Drug users and other ‘I care not’ types leave trash behind and even whole tents, (click to view my YouTube video) and there are always a handful of people living in trailers and tents that stay longer than is legal and turn their trailers into permanent residences, and ruin the place for the other travelers.
Here are some examples:
The white truck is parked on the vegetation, expanding the boundary lines of the camp. WRONG!
A pile of trash and a tent left behind by a vagabond? druggies? who knows, but it’s called dumping, and it’s ILLEGAL!
Picture three shows a pile of boulders the government has brought in to start blocking off this or another camping area. In the middle are a tent and a pile of garbage.
Picture four shows a trailer that is clearly being lived in by a family, and there is nothing wrong with that, but the amount of trash outside it suggests they have stayed much longer than the two weeks they are permitted to camp on public land, and it is unsightly and unpleasant for other campers.
There are a lot more travelers and people living in their vehicles full-time these days, in part because of the housing crisis. But there is a right way and a wrong way of doing it. We must always respect the land, or the government will have no choice but to enforce people control, which is what’s happening in Sedona and Cottonwood. Without the government stepping in, these areas are at risk of becoming slums.
If you are forced into living in a vehicle or a tent, please respect the land and other people. If you would like to learn how to live this lifestyle in a manner that is both respectful to yourself, the earth and everyone else, please visit www.CheapRVLiving.com, Bob Wells has a video on just about every aspect of living this lifestyle and living it well.
I camped in a place I’d not camped before, high up on a ridge. I had a couple of pleasant mornings listening to birdsongs and watching the balloons land, but I was growing weary of the sound of gunshots because public land is also where people go to target practice and they often leave their spent shells behind and their targets, which often includes glass shards. I’d listened to gunshots for months and months in Arizona, everywhere I went, and to my ears, it is such an unnatural sound, and a violent one at that. A gun is for killing, it is a violent weapon of death, and every time I hear a gunshot that is what my subconscious registers, the sound of violence. I tolerated Sedona for a few days, but I didn’t enjoy it like I had in the past. I also got disturbed one night by a group of young folk (thoughtless and selfish morons) who started to party right next to me and even blocked my exit. I could not tolerate it and had to move on. Each night after that I was worried it would happen again, it was very unpleasant indeed.
Sometimes a good meal and the scent of some daffodils help to soothe my frayed nerves from the sound of gunshots, but there is a limit to what daffodils can do. It was time to move on, so I studied the map and decided to visit Agua Fria National Monument. There is no target practice allowed in National Monuments, so I figured it would be a lovely respite from the sound of gunshots.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I suppose it’s because it’s right along an interstate, and also that there were no hosts of any kind keeping an eye on the place and apparently no rangers patrolling it, but as I drove along Bloody Basin Road I saw evidence of shooting everywhere. I found a spot, leveled up, and listened in dismay to the sound of gunshots. I stayed the one night, but I left the next morning and didn’t do any exploring or go in search of Indian ruins or petroglyphs etc. I just didn’t feel safe there with trucks flying along the dirt road every few minutes with guns in their window, and with the interstate right there. It was not pleasant at all.
So I drove back to Sedona, but moved on quickly and spent a night near Walnut Canyon National Monument, where the sound of gunshots continued. My nerves were so frazzled by the sound now that it was impossible to tune it out, and my eyes were constantly landing on piles of trash. My stomach would churn with disgust at the human waste I found everywhere. We have vomited our trash all over this planet, and my sensitive soul can only withstand so much before it starts to tear away at my heart and leaves it in tattered shreds.
Above – Watching the clouds toy with the cliffs of the Kaibab Plateau at Antelope Pass, 5,958 ft. Grand Canyon National Park is at the base of those cliffs, but it’s the Marble Canyon section, an area that few get to visit.
Highway 89 from Flagstaff to Page, AZ, starts out at higher elevations (7,000 – 8,000 ft) as it passes through the Coconino National Forest. Most of the forest access roads are closed at this time of the year and are still covered in snow. The road to the southern side of Grand Canyon is along here (Hwy 64), but the park can still be bitterly cold and possibly snow-covered at this time of year since most of the rim is over 7,000 feet in elevation. Then once one leaves the Coconino National Forest the surrounding terrain becomes The Navajo Nation, and to the east, the Hopi Reservation. Unless you are a member of one of these tribes, you are not allowed on their lands except in a few spots that the Navajo have set up special permissions and permits, and of course the regular highways. So it’s a long drive to a place where one can camp legally.
When I’m traveling in this area one of my favorite radio stations to tune to is Hopi Radio. It’s so varied, and I love the host’s voice, you’ll have to tune into it sometime and you’ll see what I mean.
Studley Van parked at Antelope Pass Viewpoint. To the left is the Kaibito Plateau. To the right, in the valley below, is the Marble Canyon section of Grand Canyon National Park.
A cloud lingering directly over Marble Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, as viewed from Antelope Pass.
Above – A close up of Marble Canyon.
(Above) Now, if you were to hike up this section of Marble Canyon you would eventually reach Lees Ferry, where the Paria River empties into The Colorado River, and if you were to keep on hiking up it, you would enter the Glen Canyon, and after days of hiking reach Lake Powell and The Glen Canyon Recreation Area.
This is one of the reasons I love paper maps, and my favorite are the Benchmark atlases. Google Maps on a phone or tablet can be a useful tool, but they can only show a tiny section of the big picture. By laying out a map in front of you, you can see far beyond the road or cliffs ahead, and only then can you truly get a lay of the land and perhaps get an understanding of the enormity of what you are looking at and put it into perspective.
(Above) We’re heading that way, towards Page, AZ.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to hike up Marble Canyon to reach The Glen Canyon Recreation Area at Page, AZ. As I weaved down from the pass, the views were stunning.
Below – Along the way are these stands where the Navajo sell and trade their wares to the tourists, but it’s far too cold and damp for anyone to be out here today.
Below – There are also these Hoo Doos to explore.
Until next time, bye for now, OH, and if you’re using a phone to read this keep on scrolling down and look for the MORE TO EXPLORE link which will guide you to a huge array of categories and posts from the past that include How-To’s, Tips, Travel, Tales, Travel, Philosophy, Safety, Poetry and more.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
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