After a two hour into the wind and dodge the speedboats kayak excursion on Apache Lake… this is good. Damn good.
The desert heat here is just starting to slowly simmer, just a tease of the oven baked temps you will see here in a few weeks. But it’s a somewhat cool breeze blowing at 5:30pm.
I’m sitting in spot 3S at Burnt Corral Campground; I think that means it us 3rd from the worst spots; not many options when you arrive on a Saturday afternoon; the prime lake front spots are long filled, crowded with large tents, beach chairs, about 1000 kids, boom boxes. it’s camp-ish, like people bringing the suburbs into the desert.
Normally I would not opt for this as a destination; it’s just a place to sleep tonight before a visit tomorrow morning to Tonto National Monument, where I have a spot for one of the limited tours to the upper ruins there.
I stopped a bit on the way out at the overlook just above Roosevelt Dam. Built some time in the early 1900s it was, I believe, one of the first Bureau if Reclamation dam projects, leading a path the giant ones that got slapped into the Grand Canyon, which, if the Bureau of Rec cement beavers had their way, most of Grand Canyon National Park would be under water.
To build Roosevelt dam they had to hack a road across some super rugged terrain, the Apache Trail is still a slow drive on dirt, though easily driven (slowly) in a passenger car like mine.
I understood they imported Italian experts to mine the rock used for the original dam, making cement on the spot using local limestone. A few years ago they elevated the top if the dam to increase it’s capacity and tossed a new suspension bridge across the top.
it was worth the 20 minutes to walk down to the base of the bridge for some photos at a different angle than the one taken by 99% of the people who point and shoot from the parking lot. Snap and go. Snack food photography.
And then I drove put about 5 miles on the Apache trail, up and down some steep switchbacks, and pulled off at thus campground.
I may have been the only human powered boat put there, once a mile a away from the hub-bub there were a few times when it was quiet enought to hear the bird calls and the occassional rustling of some animals who move close to the ground.
Other times the space was full of Indy race car volume power boats. It’s utterly deafening. I can appreciate the thrill of speed but I also wonder how many people in this urban sprawl like campground ever have heard the natural sounds here? it’s just my own hangup, but in the late 80s I would crave the purity of being out alone in the desert, it was as close to a spiritual moment I can recall.
There is no silence here, boats ate still revving, people are chattering. At least they are getting out if the city, but u can’t help but wonder what the experience really does if you bring the city-ness with you. With some concentration you can puck out the variety if bird calls, a repeated Ka-ka-ka-wa and another rolling trill, wuh-wah-wah-wah-wah.
it’s quite nice to be disconnected from the technology flow which seems to fill my life. There is no phone service out here (I’m writing offline with the WordPress iPhone app).
it’s nice to be off the grid, if even for a day.
I will sit back with another cold one, watch the sunset paint more pastels on the jagged mountain peaks of the Superstition Wilderness area, and think up giant big ideas.
Or not. But whatever happens it us freshening to take some Barbara-Ganley like slow time.
See ya on the other side.
— in the morning…. WTF was I thinking staying in a campground? Last night the relaxation of sleeping under a blanket of stars was “enhanced” by a drunk group (with kids) who kept the loud intellectual banter going at least til 1:30am. And on the other side, the late arrivers who showed up at 11:00 pm yet ran their truck engine til midnight, and loudly re-arranged ther supplies (I learned they had plenty of wine coolers but the chicken went bad). And now, at 7:30am, we get for free the boat engines and blaring death metal that might be audible back in Phoenix.
This is NOT camping. People don’t deserve nature.
Now I know what to to use a lake like this for an overnight; load the gear on my kayak and camp over on the other side of the lake; I spotted a perfect sotin the shade where someone even managed to set up a large picnic table. No access by vehicle…
Oops. Some sort of date mixup, mine or the Park service. There is no guided tour of the cliff ruins today, last one was late April.
On road trips, you just have to roll with it…