This story starts with a single picture, as most of my stories do. I see the Blue Ridge Reservoir online and think that the location tag must be wrong, as a place like this can’t be here in Arizona.
So I set out to find this place myself. It’s September, which means Fall is starting in Northern Arizona, and the Mogollon Rim area is one that has continually intrigued me. I follow GPS early on a Saturday morning as I enter an old dirt forest road….
Herds of elk run through the forest as I pass, a few early morning campers wave their coffee mugs in salutation as I rumble along. The dirt road gets narrower as I go, the weeds thicker, covering the road almost completely.
I feel lost, yet GPS shows that the lake is just ahead. The road I’m on eventually just abruptly ends, and a lone woman with a baby nursing at her breast looks at me in bewilderment. So many people live off the grid out here. I apologize for barging onto their camp space, turn around and try to see how I can get to the lake.
I get out of the truck and walk a bit, coming to the edge of the plateau I am on, and see the lake far below me. I’m definitely not on the right path. I get back in the truck and search my GPS for an alternative route when I see the light glowing on my dash, low tire pressure. WTF.
I get out and see my right back tire slowly losing air. I must have pinched it on a rock. I try to keep calm as I slowly drive along the dirt road, trying to find a flat area where I can put on my spare tire.
I’ve no idea how to get the spare tire off the truck, and I have no cell service to call for help or google search for instructions. I resort to reading the truck’s instruction manual.
Long story short, it was a bitch and took me almost two hours, but eventually I get the spare on. I decide to forego trying to get to Blue Ridge today, and just want to find a place along the Mogollon Rim to set up camp, and forget all about my flat tire mis-adventure.
Camping is free out here, one just has to find their own secluded spot. Nervous I am rollicking along the dirt roads, for if I lose another tire, I’m really up shit creek without a paddle.
Just as afternoon starts to slowly wane into evening, I find a spot that is perfect. I quickly pitch a tent, light up the coleman stove, and cook up some veggies for a stir-fry meal. The beer is warm but refreshing.
I settle in for the night, reading for awhile, then watch a movie as the stars roll in. Out here the Milky Way is truly magnificent, and I see larger planets floating across the universe as I fall asleep.
I wake before the sun rises, seeing that all of my truck tires are still full. I breath a sigh of relief as I start making coffee.
Seeing the sun light up the Mogollon Rim is such a spiritual experience, so I make a commitment to myself that every weekend until the snow flies I’m be coming back up here to explore more of this place.
Perhaps I’ll even find the actual road to the Blue Ridge Reservoir.