Christmas Eve 2002 Arizona Snow Run

Scott Kruize gave me a call a few days before Christmas and asked me if I was up for a snow run on Christmas Eve.  Scott usually makes a snow run up to Crown King during the winter so he can play in the white stuff a bit.  This is an old mining town that has about 100 permanent residents which then swells to well over 1000 when the summer season hits.  The old Jeep trail that runs up the back way is a popular trail for the local folks who don’t get into hard core off-roading.  A stock TJ can run it, although I have pulled a few vehicles over the ledge since I have started running it.  Now….throw in some snow and things can get more interesting.  The cliff edge trails you run….the ones where a misplaced tire will drop you 700 ~ 800 feet down the mountain side before you knew what hit you makes this trip much more interesting in the winter (a Jeeper did in fact go over the edge this year and died). 

We hit the trail with 3 TJs, 1 YJ, and a full size F-250 pickup.  Scott lead the run and I picked up the tail gunner position.  The trip ran from dry gravel to snow and back again….and it contained every imaginable mix of mud, clay, dirt, water, and snow you could dream up.  Somewhere along the way, (I think it was on the 4th obstacle) I made a comment to Joey that I was on 5 different lines and none of them was the one I was trying for.  We were slipping and sliding around.  Now I know why I prefer the dry rocks when I am playing on them. 

So, here are some pics that Scott and I took on the run.  And as always, it was fun to get out with my friends, Joey, Jake, Phil, and Scott.

Compared to the runs made during the other 3 seasons of the year, the trail looks so different with a splash of the white stuff all over.  It had snowed the night before so we were treated to a fresh layer of snow. 

We stopped a few times along the way to stretch our legs and make a snowball or two.  I think I caught Scott in the early stages of gathering some snow to throw at someone.

Joey works his YJ up a steeper section of the trail.  You can see Jakes yellow TJ at sitting below as he waits for Joey to reach the top.  We discovered early that it doesn’t take much to stop forward progress and for the Jeep to slide backwards on the trail.

Christmas Eve 2002
Arizona Snow Run

Phil walks up the trail towards Scott as Scott snaps a picture of his TJ.  If you look closely, you can see the brown clods of mud on the hood which gathered there earlier down the trail.  It seems that Scott’s lack of flares left him a bit unprotected from the wrath of the mud gods.

OK….so at least one of us was in the holiday spirit.  Scott snapped a picture of me and my elf hat (luckily, you can’t see the elf ears on the side of it!) 

Phil and his F-250 pickup works his way up the trail.  As we neared the top of the mountain, the sun was hiding behind the low clouds.  I think Phil’s bright red pickup would have looked nice with a wreath, right in the middle of the grill.

Christmas Eve 2002
Arizona Snow Run

After Joey made it, Jake gave it a try.  I think he is searching for some better traction on the side of the bank.  Nothing like using the sidewalls to help yourself along

This is T.J. Frosty, a little fellow that Scott found on the trail and set up on top of Jake’s hood.  Mr. Frosty rode on Jake’s hood for a while before he slipped off.  I was careful not to run him over as that would not be very fitting for such a nice guy.

Once we got to the switchbacks, Scott was able to quickly get some elevation and take a picture of me bringing up the rear.  Ah yes, a lonely job but somebody had to do it!

Christmas Eve 2002
Arizona Snow Run

I stopped to take a couple of pictures and take a look around.  Given a few more feet of snow, this trail could pass for being in Northern Minnesota, where I grew up.  However, given all the Jeepin’ opportunities that we have here in the Southwest, I’ll keep what I got and go TO the snow when I want to see it (rather than live in it 4~5 months out of the year!)

We followed a variety of animal tracks as we got close to the top of the mountain.  There were deer for sure and something that had paws.

We finally made it to Crown King.  After parking, we headed into the Crown King saloon to grab some lunch.  If you haven’t tried it, they make a pretty good BBQ sandwich in the little restaranut (in the back of the saloon).  Phil and Scott treated us to lunch and we had chocolate chip cookies for dessert to boot!  After a stop at the Crown King General Store, we called the trip a success and headed back to Phoenix via the graded road that takes you out to the freeway (after 40 minutes of wash boards and switchbacks). 

It was an uneventful trip back to town except for our brief stop to air the tires back up.  We had parked at the end of the S-curve (where the gravel road turns into asphalt) and were getting started on the task at hand when there was a tremendous squealing of tires.  I looked up in time to see the smoke (from the tires) and then a car go shooting off of the road.  The person had hit the S turn too fast and jumped his car about 15 feet into the ditch (if you can call it a ditch….more like a chunk of desert).  We all ran over to the car, which was now about 25 yards from us, to check on the driver.  As we approached, he indicated he was OK and then got out of the car.  He was shaken (not stirred) but was OK.  Phil dropped him off at Black Canyon City (on the way back to Phoenix) to make arrangements to recover his vehicle.  The suspension looked pretty flattened and for the most part, it was sitting on the body.  I am thinking that jumping a mid-sized car off the road is not a good thing.  Luckily, no one was hurt, and that is the important part.

Well, that was the trip.  I got home and cleaned up a bit (I still haven’t scraped the mud off the TJ yet).  My oldest daughter flew in from Minneapolis and the rest of the kids came to celebrate our family Christmas.  I hope you and yours enjoyed the holidays and that next year’s trails are good ones.  Happy New Year!