Camping: an Introduction to our Fourth of July Adventure

July 06, 2009

For the Forth of July, Chris and I planned a camping trip with four of our friends (and their 3 Chihuahuas). The average temperature in Phoenix that week was 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and Southern California was hitting the 100’s, so everyone was ready for some 75 degree weather.

Due to thunderstorms clouding the skies from LA to Phoenix, we opted to drive instead of fly the plane. (Read: small aircraft and thunderstorms do not mix well). Aside from a brief moment of panic when the air conditioner cut out in the middle of the Mojave desert (it came back on) the drive was uneventful.

Our camping destination was Knoll Lake up on the Mogollon Rim. For those of you who don’t know, the Mogollon rim is part of the Colorado Plateau (the same plateau that makes up the Grand Canyon), and although it’s only a few hours north of Phoenix, at 7500 feet elevation it is decidedly cooler.

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Because getting to the lake requires about an hour of driving on gravel forest roads, it’s more secluded than some of the other lakes in the area. It also offers dispersed camping, which means two things:

1) You don’t have to pay for a campsite (yay, tax dollars!)
2) Camping spots are primitive - but also private and woodsy

Basically, there’s a bunch of clearings off the road with fire rings. You find one you like (that hasn’t already been claimed, of course) and stake your territory.

After a little driving around, we came across the Best. Campsite. Ever. It was one of the last dispersed campsites down a dirt road that branched off the main access to the lake. We were only about 3 miles from the lake (a 10 minute drive), there were no campsites within sight of ours and virtually no traffic came this far down the access road.

I will regale you with some pictures.

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And don’t forget our new tent, the Taj Mahal. I’m not kidding, this thing has CLOSETS. Yes, closets. We saw it on sale for $40, and considering our old tent had holes in the ceiling (NOT fun when it rains) we jumped at the chance for a fancy new tent.

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Once camp was set up, it was time to build a fire. And for that, you will have to read the next blog post: Because Matches Aren’t Good Enough.