Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hah... Hah...

The Old Stagecoach road in New River AZ

I'M not laughing.  That's the stage coach driver urging on his team! 'Giddy up'

I'm imagining myself a hundred fifty years ago, when this part of the USA was virgin territory for white folk.  It's hard to believe that settlers came from as far away as Virginia or Pennsylvania or Ohio and made their stake in the desert.  Boy, you'd have to be pretty dang hardy to survive the climate which can be a hundred twenty five degrees under a sun so hot it would bake a rattlesnake in minutes, and nights below zero temperatures! 

In those days there were still marauding Apache, the hostile climate and always lack of water.  Where Roosevelt Lake now stands, there was barely a seasonal trickle.

Another beautiful Arizona day!
 SMALL settlements sprang up around water holes, gold and silver deposits, maybe  the odd ranch or farm, and men and women and their children using guns and ammunition, ambition, hopes and dreams and perhaps a whole lotta intestinal fortitude (guts) tried to eke out a living or strike it rich. 

Tales such as the Lost Dutchman mine worth a fortune abound in the South West.

Just off the freeway and already I'm lost although I don't know it just yet.

TO get from the east to the west, you could sign up for a slow moving wagon train that gave some measure of security against hostile Indians, bandits and robbers and of course the terrain.  Many a Trail headed to the promised lands of California or Oregon but before they got there, you had to cross impassible passes, deal with the unpredictable weather and often starvation or thirst. 

If anti social as many were or simply impatient, some would strike out alone or in small groups, hungry for that claim of land or riches.

Fine tool the 27 horsepower XT 350

THERE was the Old Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, the Mormon Trail, the California Trail,  the Spanish Trail and others.  Many, like the Donner-Reed party of 1846, ended in disaster or worse.

Just ridden up a hill 50 feet higher than the one in the photo, washed out and boulder strewn.

EVENTUALLY it was inevitable that communities would spring up and if only for a while, settlers settled either from promise or exhaustion!  In a very pleasant valley just an hour's drive/ride on I-17 north of where I was now taking a break at New River, sat the lovely little city of Prescott AZ.  You could read of several adventures I have had in and around the area, traveling the Old Senator highway or the New River Trail. 

About the only way to get around in these parts during the late 1800's and much of the early 1900's was by stage coach.  Made of wood with tall wooden wheels, baggage stowage and a team of hardy horses, the passengers and driver typically with his partner riding "shotgun" carried passengers along trails from on community to another. 

Beautiful day but about a 50 mph breeze up top the highest mountain within 5 miles!

THE route from Prescott, a distance of roughly 100 miles (160 km) with stops at Mayer, Cordes Junction and New River and onto Phoenix would need a good week to do by stage.  Even at legal speed limits on the freeway today, a Hayabusa would cover the distance in not much more than an hour! 

It's hard to believe that we have come from a horse drawn stagecoach to supersonic jet travel in barely more than a century.

ON one of my last rides this trip, I was looking to hook up with the remnants of the Old Stagecoach road in New River, and ride that north to Table Mesa road which goes in both east and west directions.  Once there I hoped to find my way either to the northern reaches of Lake Pleasant and from there maybe cross directly west to the Cow Creek road and ultimately back onto the very familiar Castle Hot Springs road from where I could ride home in my sleep (well nearly)

Alternately if I couldn't find that cross country trail I could maybe find my way south on the Old Mine road that branched off Table Mesa.

Doesn't look steep, but it is!

NOW I will mention that many of these "roads" are nothing more than Jeep trails or perhaps right of ways like the Power Line road which I'm guessing gives access to and follows one of the many high tension systems that criss cross the desert.  Of course as usual, I had my gear, food and water, and a full tank for what promised to be an exciting day trip!

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