For three days I have been camping in the Coconino National Forest, about 5 miles north of Strawberry, AZ. Without a current MVUM and no experience with dispersed camping sites along Rt 260, it was just luck that I turned on Forest Road 144 and found many beautiful campsites within a mile of the main road. I love camping in the high forests with their tall trees and cool temperatures. The thick forest along with plenty of space between campsites provides the camper lots of isolation and privacy. The only drawback to many national forests is that I seldom have a cell signal and this place was no exception.
I did the usual activities while camped among the Ponderosa. One day I hiked to the top of a hill above my camp to see if I could get a signal. I didn’t get one but it was a fun walk anyway. On another day I rode my motorcycle a few miles on back roads exploring the area. There were dozens of campsites and many side roads branching off in all directions, making me a little nervous that I would get lost in my return trip, or even worse, have another flat tire and be stranded miles from home.
It rained quite hard last night and I awoke with fear my bed would be wet. I was relieved to find that nothing or no one had wet the bed, so the caulk I put around the front window seems to have done the trick. Above 7000’ the afternoons have been pleasantly mild but the nights drop into the low 40’s. I sometimes delay getting up until the sun shines through Minnies windows and radiates warmth to the interior. I sleep in a light Walmart sleeping bag and sometimes it is not enough. Today, I bought another summer bag to throw on top for a little added warmth on cold nights. I have thought about using sheets and blankets and quilts on the bed but it would be too hard to crawl up there and make the bed in the morning. Sleeping bags are so much easier to smooth out. I always sleep in pajamas or sweats to keep the bags clean as long as possible and plan to use a light blanket if it ever gets warm at night.
Today, I moved to another boondocking spot about 10 miles east of Payson, AZ on Rt. 260. I found the spot on the Days End publication that I pirated from Richard a few years ago. It is on a forest road above the trailhead named Hells Gate. I have good cell signal and the lower elevation should make the nights a little warmer. There is also a water source ¼ mile from my camp that I could use for bathing and flushing. I will probably be here through the weekend and then decide whether to go back into Phoenix or up on the Rim for a few days.