Working during the summer is challenging, whether in house chores or photography. That’s why my favorite pastime during these months is procrastination. Face it; I’m allergic to heat. Thinking about going outside is worse than actually doing so. After all, in today’s southwest, we’ve learned to minimize our heat exposure. We move about in a succession of air-conditioned cocoons.
Heat is why I had difficulty coming up with a theme for July. The monsoons haven’t kicked in yet, so most pleasant campsites are on fire or closed. I must stay close to home, venturing early or after dinner, find a shot, and then hurry home.
I decided that July’s theme will be U.S. Highway 93. That’s the main thoroughfare near my house that Phoenicians (and Tucsonans) use to commute to Las Vegas. The route goes to Canada, but I’m only concerned about day trips. Because I’ve often traveled the section between here and Kingman, I know a few vistas I wanted to capture on film but never had time to stop. This week’s image is an example.
North of the SR 71 – 93 junction, the Alamo-Congress Rod is a lousy shortcut to Alamo Lake. It’s a broad dirt road that gets graded annually at best. It passes the Tres Alamos Wilderness Area about 10 miles west of the paved highway. It’s a small nature preserve (83,000 acres) compared to the neighboring Arrastra Mountain Wilderness (129,800 acres). The high point on which Tres Alamos is centered is the 4257-foot Sawyer Peak. To reach the spot where I took this shot, I had to slowly travel a couple of miles on a Jeep trail that left Archie with some Arizona Pinstripes—a badge of honor for a Luxo-SUV.
The wash in this shot is Date Creek, which should be familiar to regular readers because Congress—and the old Congress Gold Mine—are located next to the mountains of the same name. As it were, the creek flows from the Weavers, along the north side of the Date Creeks, to where it merges with the Santa Maria River upstream from Alamo Lake.
An interesting thing in the photo is the tire tracks in the sand. With the rising popularity of those all-terrain buggies, it’s easier for off-roaders to drive through the washes. Most of the time, the ride is smoother than the so-called mine roads. However, in the past, you could see tracks of the animals crossing the river bottoms. It was a visitor guest book. Now that natural history is erased each time they drive over it.
When I first moved to Congress, I coveted owning an ATV. I thought it would help me get into the backcountry and get some unique landscapes. After a couple of rides in Fred’s, I found them uncomfortable because you’re exposed to the elements, and riding in his air-conditioned FJ is more my style of roughing it. Earlier this year, I got hooked on watching Matt’s Off-Road Recovery. He’s a towing company in Hurricane, Utah, and he documents his crew on YouTube as they drag 4-wheelers back to civilization. The best part is that he uses a modified Corvair Lakewood—the station wagon version. Watching him drag ATVs off mountains and dunes convinced me I was better off without one.
Click here to see a larger version of Date Creek and Tres Alamos on its Web Page. Next week, we’ll travel further down the highway and see what’s around the next bend.
Until next time — jw