In August we didn't have an opportunity to get away to the middle of nowhere as we like to do so by mid-September we really needed some nomadacy. We decided on a trip to the North District of the Kaibab National Forest. Specifically we were headed to Crazy Jug Point, leaving on a Wednesday morning. While it is primarily an awesome view point, there are also a few dispersed camping spots at the point.
We were in familiar territory to Flagstaff and heading north on US 89. We stopped for lunch at the historic Cameron Trading Post. The food was excellent as was the service and it was quite reasonably priced. Portions were large so we had leftovers to pack, saving cooking time later.
We reached the intersection with US 89A and turned left. I have travelled 89A twice coming back from Utah but this was new territory for Joni. As always Marble Canyon, the Vermillion Cliffs and everything else was beautiful. There's definitely much nomadacy to be done in that area.
Soon we were past Vermillion Cliffs and climbing out of the plateau toward Jacob Lake (there's a strong tendency to call it Jacob's Lake but one doesn't want to sound like a tourist right?). We reached Jacob Lake at 7,900 feet elevation. Not so long before we were at 3,600 feet at Marble Canyon. We stopped at the Kaibab National Forest visitor center and bought a Forest Service map. Though they are expensive I recommend getting one. It's a very helpful map as we later found out.
We headed south on AZ 67. This was new territory for us both as AZ 67 was always closed when I came through Jacob Lake in early May. The forest and meadows we saw along the highway were beautiful.
Eventually we turned on FR22. How nice to finally be on a gravel road! But soon a real adventure started. We were following directions I had gleaned from the web and at one point "we jigged when we should have jagged". We ended up on a very remote section of road with our way blocked by a fallen tree. It was very tricky to get our large rig turned around but we got it done. It was now late afternoon and we didn't relish the idea of traveling unfamiliar forest roads after dark. Fortunately we had scoped out a nice boondocking site a few miles back and it became the day's destination. We made camp in a lovely spot in the middle of pines and aspens. You can bet after dinner I had that map opened up finding our mistake and plotting our route for the next day, We went to sleep with the sound of the wind in the top the pines and... nothing else.
The next day we set off again. The route I had chosen was a good one except one road that was quite narrow in spots (we earned our first "forest stripe" with a big scratch on the kitchen window) and toward the end got steep and twisty to the point of being a little sketchy. We took it slow and easy and it was a relief reach the bottom of the descent. The payback for that remote road was the wildlife we saw including wild turkeys, bluebirds and a magnificent pair of coyotes.
About lunch time we reached Crazy Jug Point. We expected the few campsites available to be taken so imagine our surprise to have the place to ourselves. We chose a spot with a great view, set up camp and headed down the trail to the viewpoint proper.
It is a great view of North Rim features of the Grand Canyon. Our only disappointment was lots of haze and an almost clear sky which made photography opportunities sparse. Once again it was all made up by wildlife and the remote peaceful location. We saw squirrels, a variety of small birds, lizards, birds of prey. A pair of Chukar Partridge spent most of the afternoon feeding in part of the camping area.
Most of Thursday afternoon we were completely alone and we reveled in the peacefulness. Then we heard a vehicle; a couple from Canada pulled up and introduced themselves as Daniel and Marie. They were delightful and we enjoyed talking with them. They parked their van in a shady spot a little distance from us and being quiet people like us we never heard them.
At sunset we walked down to the view point. Once again the haze and lack of clouds didn't afford us much in the way of good photo opportunities but it was still lovely to watch the day come to a close.
Joni and I took a walk on a nearby forest road late Friday afternoon. We checked out other boondocking spots in the area, seeing one in the forest and three with beautiful canyon views. We returned to camp just as a couple of young men pulled up, one on a dirt bike and one on an ATV. They were impressed with Crazy Jug Point but were looking for a campsite with a view. How nice it was to help them out with directions to the sites we just found. They came back the next morning thanking us and raving about the great site they camped at.
After sunset we set our camp chairs in an open spot and spent quite a while looking at the sky as a bazillion stars came into view. To top it off we saw 5 shooting stars. What a way to end our day!
Mid-morning on Saturday Daniel and Marie came over to say good-bye. We were sad to see them go, to the point of feeling a sense of loss after they left and wondering if we should head home early. We decided to eat lunch and go for a hike to shake off our blues. We picked another forest road to follow that ended up going down, down, down through beautiful forest at the head of Crazy Jug Canyon. We went as far as we dared knowing full well we'd be going up, up, up at over 7,000 feet elevation when we turned around. We paced ourselves and took breaks in the shade and soon we were back in camp.
Late in the afternoon we heard another vehicle coming. It turned out to be a young fellow in his passenger car with the backseat full of gear. He was just arriving from Denver! That's a looong drive! He was looking for a shady campsite with a view so we sent him on the way to the sites we had found the day before. After dinner we turned in early. That seems to be easy for us when camping. Not long after dark we're ready for bed.
Sunday morning we were up early as we had plans. First off we headed down to the viewpoint arriving just as the sun was rising over the mountains to the east. We sat down and watched as the sun lit up everything to the west little by little in complete silence. Then birds awoke to begin calling and flying around, a signal that morning had properly arrived. Soon it was time for breakfast and coffee followed by breaking camp. As usual we were sad to leave a place we had enjoyed so much but we were kind of looking forward to being home too.
We took a different route out of Crazy Jug Point. We stuck to the more major forest roads.
At one point i saw a car behind us and pulled over to let it by. Turned out it was Denver Guy. He stopped to thank us for sending him to an awesome campsite. We were glad to have been able to help him make a memory.
We had thought we'd find much cooler weather up on the North Rim and quite a bit of fall color. We were surprised when our furnace never came on at night. During the day a t-shirt and shorts were just fine and fall color was slight to none. Finally on FR22 we saw some bright yellow aspens lining the road. Just what we had been hoping for (go to the images at the bottom of this post for a photo).
We reached AZ67 and thought "It would be a shame to be so close and not see the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park". So we turned south for a look-see. We saw more forest and meadows. Once we were in the park proper, a herd of buffalo crossed the road with not a care in world about stopping traffic.
We knew there'd be people but we were unprepared for the crowds after days in a remote area with little to no people around. We walked through the lodge, down the trail to Bright Angel Point, made a quick stop in the gift shop and said "Enough, we're outta here!".
We headed north on AZ67 and stopped at the Country Store across from DeMotte Campground. It's a cool little place run by a couple who's there when the road is open. The gal said they'd be leaving no later than October, 31st. Soon we arrived at Jacob Lake. We filled up with fuel (yes it's expensive but there's no other choice) and had lunch at the inn.
We had a long drive home but we were basking the afterglow of some wonderful nomadacy.
Please enjoy a few more photos from our trip in the slideshow below. Click on any photo to enlarge it and step through the photos. Roll over an enlarged photo to see the caption.