The weather has warmed up quite a bit and I thought I might be able to check out the upper elevations while leaving my long johns in storage. A few side roads later, and avoiding the mountain-side sign pointing to Phoenix,
we found ourselves cruising past Usery Mountain Regional Park and Saguaro lake on the way north. We then picked up the Beeline Highway and made a beeline for Payson. We knew it was going to be a bit of a climb, but the big GMC pulled the rig up the incline without complaining. Soon we were in Payson and looking for a good campsite. Not unexpectedly, several of the listed ‘free campsites’ listed in the directory I had saved, were now clearly marked ‘no camping’. Undaunted, a nice piece of pine forest soon beckoned off the side of a gravel forestry road.
I wanted to check out the section of highway 260 to the east of Payson, and should really have left the rig parked somewhere, but ended up pulling it up to the top of the Mogollon rim at the 7500’ level. There was still snow up at that elevation, but it was melting and a large pond echoed with frogs songs.
The visitor center, as well as most side roads and campgrounds in the area were still closed for the season, but will hopefully be opening soon.
After enjoying the scenery off the edge of the Mogollon rim, and only feeling a bit cool wearing shorts, we turned around and glided all the way back down the hill into Payson again to lose the 2500’ of elevation we had just gained! The Jiffy Lube there did not want to install my fuel filter for a reasonable price, so we kept on a truckin’. North of Payson, another listed ‘free campsite’ was now well signed as ‘no camping’, and it was too close to the highway for my liking anyway. So once again we climbed another 2000’ vertical through Pine and Strawberry to access the rim on the other side of Payson. You know you are close to snow, and that it is somewhat of a novelty here when the gas stations are advertising ‘snow toys’, hats and gloves!
With a little snooping, another good campsite in the bush was located – and only a short walk to a view from the rim too!
I was somewhat surprised when the overnight temperatures stayed above the freezing point, and the morning sun in the pines meant that it was another day for shorts!
Hmmm, I wonder what the scenery is like in Sedona at this time of year …!