Christopher Creek, AZ

Having company is great, but sometimes getting away by myself is a welcome change. I spent most of Friday ensuring my gear was in order, and left for Payson early Saturday morning. The ride out of town was warm, but the Sun hadn’t yet come out in full force. If everything went well, I’d be 100 miles North and 5000′ higher well before lunch. At that altitude, it wouldn’t matter. The weather forecast promised clear skies with a high of 85°F and a low of 60°F. I found myself surprised with how quick the ride was, but I’m sure my California trip had something to do with that. After all, a thirteen hour ride tends to put things in perspective.

About two-thirds the way there, traffic had slowed to a crawl. These mountain roads and steep grades made the slow ride treacherous. Around the blind turn was another motorcyclist’s bike, in the left hand lane, and on fire. The rider was sitting in the back of a pickup truck, coherent, and receiving medical aid from the driver. I recognized the motorcyclist, as he wasn’t wearing any gear when he passed me 80 miles back. He was the Harley riding, t-shirt wearing, no helmet type. He is the “lucky to be alive” type, now. I felt it’d be inappropriate to take pictures.

I didn’t stay long, and made my way to Christopher Creek without incident. Rolling in, there was a sign at the entrance that said the campsite was full. Trying my luck, I made two passes around, and found a spot that had cleared out earlier that morning. I parked my bike, confirmed it was vacant, and began unpacking. I started boiling some water for coffee, and had camp tied and tethered by the time it was rolling. The campgrounds were loud and very busy. There were generators running, families playing in the creek, and music coming from every campsite.

Sipping my coffee, and with another pot of water starting to boil, I decided to go collect firewood after lunch. Some people will turn their nose up at freeze dried camp food, but I love the convenience. I’ve only been up here for an hour, and already had camp set up, coffee made, and a plate of beef stroganoff ready.

Assessing my surroundings, I realized this wasn’t going to be the quiet weekend I was looking for. I was still going to make it a good time, regardless. I grabbed my tomahawk, emptied my pack, and made my way downstream. Nobody seemed to stray far from their campsites, and I found peace and tranquility no more than a mile in. Gathering deadfall, and chopping the wood into manageable pieces, I loaded my pack and hiked back to camp. I met with the groundskeeper, paid my dues, and proceeded to process my haul. I waved to curious onlookers and passers-by. My only guess is that most of them hadn’t heard of motorcycle camping before. I had another serving of stroganoff, and decided to make a second firewood run.

When I finished chopping wood, I laid out in my hammock, lit a cigar, and read a few chapters of a book I’ve been working on. I already had a bundle of tinder covered in shavings from my magnesium rod on a piece of bark. My wood pile was neatly arranged in the fire pit. When the Sun finally set, one stroke against the ferro rod threw enough sparks to ignite my tinder. My fire was roaring, and effortlessly burned through the night. I thought I might get away with just a blanket, but the cold night air cut right through it. Unpacking my sleeping bag, I bundled up in the hammock. The neighbors ran their generator, and their kids played long into the night. Nearing midnight, I fell asleep shortly after the campground finally became quiet.

When the Sun came out again, I started another pot of coffee. Stirring water into my firepit, and checking my campsite one last time, I was content I had everything. I rode out before most others even knew it was morning. The ride down was faster than I remember it usually being, and the light Sunday morning traffic made it easy. I made it home in time for breakfast.

3 thoughts on “Simple and Clean

  1. That was the most relaxing proxy camping trip ever, and the best thing I’ve read this week. I’m glad you were able to find some peace beyond the safe bounds of the encampment, and were able to find warmth and sleep after the generators fell silent.

    I really appreciated you taking some valuable camp time to message and send photos of your setup, offering advice on gear and smokes.

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