Tear Drops in Desert Sand

Teardrop Rendezvous in Quartzsite

 

Remote Camp Site

Little Guy Trailers and Paha Que Wilderness have just completed an epic backcountry tour of the Gold Mining areas in the old Fort Tyson area.

Participants traveled from San Diego (main group), Poway, Torrance, Fresno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Utah and Michigan via Miami (some people use these Teardrops for long term). The tow vehicles varied from radical Off-Road Jeeps to simple family cars… all easily accessing the main camp site in the Plomosa foothills.

It’s amazing how a couple hundred yards off the pavement places you in the same terrain where Wyatt Earp lived!

Teardrop Round-up

 

Both novice and experts were mixed together in comfort as our guide and counselor Jeff Basford of Paha Que Wilderness organized and led a treat in the ultra-dry wilderness. We were surrounded by lava rock formations, gas vents, dozens of cacti, gravel like surfaces of dark volcanic pebbles and rugged volcanic flows.

The history of this area is rich and steeped in the Old West. From the mid 1800’s, hundreds of mines were claimed and worked by individuals and consortiums with rudimentary methods being employed next door to highly-engineered systems. Of the more fascinating accounts was the influx of the French prospectors. The cabins they built can still be seen and visited (rock structures with double wall base). These miners utilized the placer mining techniques and their tailings can be easily identified. Typically, there was a dump area within several feet consisting of old meat cans, soup and food tins intertwined with wagon and equipment skeletons.

Blooming Desert

The desert is lovely this time of year. Many cactus are blooming and the bees are busy. Although in my mind I expected absolute dryness, it was off set by the numerous Palo Verde trees with it’s vivid light-green bark. The Ocotillo cactus featured wonderful red blossoms plus the royal color of Barrel and Prickly Pear cactus flowers. Apparently, this year with the increased rains, we caught the bloom even at the end of March.

This particular trip was unseasonably warm …. around 105 degrees during the day and 90’s at night. We were very glad for the powered roof vent in our Little Guy Rough Rider model… when an inversion occurred in the middle of the night rendering our exhaust mode useless, I simply reversed the fan direction and wah-lah, we enjoyed a comfortable desert night on our queen-size bed.

Desert Shade

What a great way to camp with these Teardrop Trailers. They have just enough storage capacity to make the campsite perfect for a fresh-air outing with amenities. We noticed the various methods employed by our neighbors and it really boils down to personal needs and choices. We saw barbeques next to Dutch Ovens and discussions of utilizing Sun Ovens with the unlimited power supply of the sun. We witnessed solar power panels recharging battery systems and practical Teardrop designed side rooms attached to off-set the heat and provide a lee-side breezeway (built by Paha Que our organizer). A couple Teardrops even employed Air Conditioners with a small generator purring nearby and solar shower cabanas (no need for towels in the super dry air).

Evening Meals

This event will hopefully launch into an annual outing with the possibility of a second event into the backcountry with 4×4 vehicles only (and high clearance campers). I anticipate quite a number of participants joining us as there was plenty of area for many more campers.

If you have a Teardrop or Aliner and want to join in, please send your email address to us and we’ll include you in subsequent notices of our campouts. So far, we still want to catch Death Valley in the late fall or early spring, a mountain region lake in Arizona waiting for us on an Indian Reservation and a winery near Julian which would be perfect on a moonless night.

Our sincere thanks go to Jeff Basford and Mike Greaves of Paha Que Wilderness Camping Systems, our organizer, for designing a worthy trip with great historical and geographical account of the area. We also want to thank our participants for becoming good friends in a matter of a few days! There’s nothing like camping buddies.

French miner cabin site

Most of all we want to thank Camping Life Magazine for joining us with the trip. We should see a great article by fall with the possibility of a cover theme on Teardropping in the remote desert. We highly recommend subscribing to this publication as they endeavor to cover the type of camping near and dear to us all.

See you next trip!

Eric Krag, Regional Sales For Little Guy Trailers

Spring Camping – The Time is Now

Arizona desert weather is perfect for camping during this time of year, with clear cool nights, and the desert looking as green as it will all year, following the winter rains.  A bit too early for the desert wildflowers, but the cactus were beginning to bloom, and the Ocotillo’s bright red flowers were just beginning to show.

Image

There really is something mystical about the desert, so vast and vacant, untouched by modern civilization.  So rich with history, this prehistoric land of the ancients.  There is something about standing on the same land as the Anasazi, the Hohokam, and later the Hopi, Apache and Mojave Indians, and realizing that very little has changed since their time.

Now I love camping just about anywhere, and grew up camping in the lush, verdant forests of the upper mid-west, an area equally as rich with its own unique brand of history.  And I’ve spent a great deal of time camping throughout the southeastern United States, almost always near a river or a lake.  Something I don’t get to do very much now that I camp primarily in the more arid southwestern area of our country.

I do try to camp all around the country as often as possible however.  I want to know how our tents perform on humid Florida nights, or how they keep out the mosquitoes on a hot Minnesota summer day.  I want to know that our tent will keep me dry even during the worst northwest soaking rain storms, and to see how our fabrics hold up in the blistering sun and heat of the southwest.

This particular trip however, there would be none of that.  Perfect weather, and as we like to say here at PahaQue, any tent performs well in fair weather.  On this trip we were comfortably camped on Perry Mesa, in our Perry Mesa tent!

Perry Mesa Rock Art
Rock Art on Perry Mesa

There were three of us – our VP Mike, our CFO Craig, and myself.  We camped about 2 miles from Squaw Creek Ruins, a massive pueblo complex overlooking Squaw Creek Canyon, and Squaw Creek about 1000 feet below.  It is fun to hike the last few miles to this site because you really get a good feel for the lay of the land as you approach the ruin and the southern edge of the mesa.  This area represents a massive prehistoric civilization site, comprising over 20 pueblos on approximately 20 square miles.  And it is remote and relatively untouched.  The sense of history is heavy as you tread over trails, see trash dumps filled with pot sherds, collapsed pueblos that are over 800 years old. This was one of the last ancient civilizations prior to Spanish contact.

So for this particular trip, the only testing that occurred was on our legs.  This is rugged country, and two miles here can seem like ten.  Constantly trying to avoid ankle-breaking rocks, painful cactus, and other such obstacles can make for a tricky hike.  Trying to keep your eyes on all the amazing sites around you, while watching each step to avoid falling on your face is the real trick.

Squaw Creek Cyn
Perry Mesa overlooking Squaw Creek Canyon

So after hiking/stumbling the 4 miles to and from the ruins, and the additional odd mile or two spent exploring the area, seeing our Perry Mesa’s on Perry Mesa was a welcome site indeed!  No matter where you camp, your tent is your home away from home, and is always a welcome site after a long day of physical activity.  And fortunately for us there was no severe weather testing of the tents this trip.  However, we did find three scorpions under our tent upon packing up on our last day.  So I guess we can call that our bug-test trip.  And it seems even those nasty little dudes know where to go to find good shelter! Good thing we kept our tent doors zippered tight!

Scorpion
5″ long Scorpion….Nasty!

If you’ve had fun or exciting camping experiences with your PahaQue Tent or Shelter, please take a moment to share it with us.  We love to hear your stories!  Also be sure to check out the details on our upcoming photo contest – you might just win a free PahaQue Shadow Mountain Cabana!

See you ’round the campfire!

Jeff Basford

PahaQue Wilderness

 

Arizona Backcountry Trip Wrap-Up

Whenever we guide a group of campers into the backcountry on one of our guided trips, its always good thing if we never have to touch the first-aid kit.  Not knowing what the skill and experience level of our guests may be, there is always that chance that someone could get hurt.  Especially on the desert, where pretty much everything from rocks, to cactus, to rattlesnakes, are going to put a hurt on if you encounter them in the wrong way.  This was a good trip.  I dont recall using even a band-aid this time around!

Our campsite was ideal – just far enough back in the mountains to be hidden away and provide a feeling of complete isolation.  It was flat enough for everyone to park their trailers and set their tents on level desert pavement, as it is called.  We had a spectacular view of the mountains, and the evening sunsets were everything I had hoped they would be.  On the desert the sunsets are almost always spectacular, and this trip was no disappointment. 

A few highlights from the trip:

Probably the moment everyone will remember the most is when a 6′ Western Diamondback rattlesnake wandered into camp and right between the legs of Mary, one of our guests. 

Rattler in Camp

Good thing he wasnt hungry I guess.  If it had been up to me, it would have been dinner and a hatband, but ultimately we agreed to just move him a few hundred yards from camp.  He must’ve read my mind because he stayed away the rest of the trip!

Another highlight were the 4WD trail-rides that we took on the old mining roads, winding our way up, over and around the mountains to view some great old ghost gold mines, the old stone cabins of 19th century French miners, and a beautiful looking Big Horn Sheep was watched us pass by from a ridge high above the road.

Saturday nights Potluck dinner was fantastic, with everyone providing delicious food prepared in camp.  My favorite was the dutch-oven stew with biscuits cooked right on top of the stew.  We also had brats, salad, even pies, all served in camp right around sunset.  It was a perfect way to cap off a great trip.

My favorite memory is always the smiles and great comments we recieve from our guest.  Our goal is to design backcountry trips that are unique and unlike the regular camping rally’s in crowded campgrounds.  We want to show our guests how vast the west really is, how much open land there is to explore, and how much history there is to discover by simply getting off the beaten path.

One comment from a guest who came from Michigan really stuck with me.  He said that, to him, the trip was “like one of life’s little nuggets, that if you don’t bend over to pick it up, you’ll never know what you missed.”  Thats what I’m talking about.  I love the outdoors, I love the desert, and I love sharing my passion for history with our guests, with the hope of adding a new dimension to their experience.

Desert weather is always unpredictable, with heat and wind being just a part of the experience.  This time the temperature jumped from the lo-80’s of the previous week, to

ca. 1900 Mining Ruins

the mid-90’s for the 4 days we were there, and then of course dropping back down into the lo-80’s on the day we left.  But no one seemed to mind the daytime heat too much – we kept busy during the days and that really helped.  But the evenings – they were spectacular!  Perfect temps, light gentle breezes, and no moon which made for some really great star-gazing.  Being that far out the night sky is usually brilliant, and the Milky Way was like a streak of white across the sky.

We really couldnt have asked for better weather or nicer folks this time.  It is always great to meet, and get to know new folks on every trip, and after sharing such an experience folks seem to develop a special bond.  Thanks to all our guests who joined in and help make the experience enjoyable for everyone.  Sharing all of this with you is the little nugget that I pick up on every trip we take.

If you would like to read more about our backcountry trip, watch the August and September issues of Camping Life Magazine.  We were privledged to have one of their writers along on this trip, and he has written a story about it that will appear in the publication very soon.