The Dirt Road to Paradise

dirt road UT

Have you ever wandered off the beaten path and driven down a lonely dirt road just to see where it ends?

Taking time to explore is always a top priority on our trips, and it is never time wasted. Sometimes what we find is an explorers pot of gold, and other times it’s a gate with a No Trespassing sign.  But it’s always an adventure.

In 1996, while exploring the backcountry of the Chiricahua Mountains we came across to markers that said simply Unknown Arizona Pioneers.  Later research on this site revealed quite a story about the Apache War legends surrounding these gravesites.

PromPt65-05

On another trip in 2003, we drove the old transcontinental railroad grade, abandoned in the 1940’s, across the western half of northern Utah, only to breakdown on the same spot as the historic 1869 photo of the last eastbound wagon train meeting the first westbound train. We had punctured our tire with a 134 year old rusty railroad spike. Three ghost towns and miles of history later, we came out in the town of Wendover, NV.

water trough

One that sticks in my mind was this old water trough, built of hand-hewn lumber, with the spring still bubbling at the far end. Lots of antelope that day, but the rancher and his cattle had left this lonely place long ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One place that we consider very special is a remote mesa at the end of a rough road in central Arizona.  The density of rock art and petroglyphs on this mesa are quite impressive, and only in recent years have archeologists begun to study this area.  This must be one of the least disturbed ancient-man sites in Arizona, and it was only our curious minds that led us there.  No signs or maps exist for this historic and remote area.

headframe

On a recent trip through Nevada, we drove a dirt road that led through the old Osceola Mining District, where mining headframes seemed to reach for the sky, and the buildings appeared as if the the miners just up and left one day, and never came back.

Each of these adventures, and others too numerous to list here, were all the result of driving down an un-mapped dirt road, just to see where it led and what we might find. Oftentimes the drive was fruitless, but on others we found memories to last a lifetime. And we have camped in some remote and incredible locations.  And there are many more dirt roads yet to follow.

Leaving time for the unexpected is important, and is the part of the journey I often anticipate most. Whether is it fixing a flat tire in the middle of no-where, or finding amazing displays of ancient rock art, the adventure never disappoints.  Take the next dirt road you pass, drive along for awhile and see what’s around the next corner.

Hoping everyone has a great summer of camping adventures!

Happy Trails,

Jeff

It’s been awhile

since I lasted posted anything, so I thought I would take a moment to share what is new at PahaQue these days.  Let me start by asking if you’ve ever had one of those days were you start work, look up at the clock, and it’s already 5pm and time to go home?  (In our case it’s usually closer to 7pm….)  That is pretty much how is has been around here since around mid-April. 

Ever since returning from our Spring Desert Guided Tour in April, its been foot on the gas and take no prisoners!  I have always said that in this business we are the same as farmers – business is seasonal, and total dependant upon the weather.  And as everyone knows, it has been a crazy, and oftentimes scary year around the country.  But despite facing hurdles just as every business does – especially these days – we have been quite busy and it has been an exciting year for us.

Working in partnership with Green Supply in Vandalia, Missouri, we have eliminated the inventory issues that plagued us over the past few years, we have expanded our product line to now include mid-price family models, and super-lightweight backpacking tents, and we have totally revamped our website to include the most current photos, specs, dealer listings and more!    

We are excited about the upcoming September issue of Camping Life Magazine which will feature a story about our Spring Guided Tour and the joys of backcountry desert camping.  We look forward to this trip each year with much anticipation, and we hope you will consider joining us next year.  This year we had folks from as far away as Michigan, Las Vegas, Tucson and Phoenix join us, and we all had a great time exploring old mines and mining roads, hiking on the desert and enjoying the awesome sunsets and desert night sky.  We will be announcing our plans for next years trip over the next few months.

We are currently preparing for the annual Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, where the entire outdoor industry comes together to buy and sell, and show off the new products that will appear on the shelves in 2012.  It should be an exciting show.  The industry overall has been down the past few years, but 2011 has been a year of improvement and growth so the mood should be positive at the show as we all look towards 2012.  We really enjoy the face time with our dealers, and the chance to meet new folks and see what new innovative products are being developed.

Here at PahaQue, we are proud that our products continue to be well-liked by our customers and dealers alike, and that through hard work and dedication we have ‘weathered the storm’ that has affected so many of us over the past few years.  We have never had to sacrifice quality or our reputation, and can say that we are as dedicated as ever to providing you with the very best camping tents and shelters, and to stand behind our products with rock-solid customer service. 

If you haven’t already checked out our YouTube page, you can do so by clicking the link on our home page.  You will find helpful set-up videos, demonstration videos, and even a few attempts at humor.  Also check out our Facebook page – if you become a “Fan” you will receive occasional sales offers, contest notices, gear giveaways and more.  Visit our home page www.pahaque.com for these and other helpful links, as well as a complete look at what is new at PahaQue this year!

So until next springs Desert Camping Tour, I will have to settle for 2 and 3 nighters in the local deserts and mountains, where even a brief trip is a welcome break from our busy in-season schedule.  And when we’re not camping, we’ll be making hay!

Hope to see you around the campfire sometime soon!

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.