Based on our last, aborted attempt to find the Apache Trail, we did research and found that it wasn’t OFF the road we were driving up and down to find it, it WAS the road we were driving up and down to find it. All we really needed to do was to stay on highway 88 off Interstate 60, and it turns into a fascinating little easy off-road trail. AZOffRoading rates it as an “easy” trail.
On the way out to Apache Junction, Janiece and I started one of those meandering conversations about philosophy that tend to produce some of our better ideas. Since I’ve taken most of my friends on trips in “The Magic Carpet” my Land Cruiser in Afghanistan, I confided in her that I was finally fulfilling the goal of doing some off roading with her in a Land Cruiser. This led to a conversation about how we both don’t agree with the concept of “bucket lists”.
While bucket lists are popular, we listed reasons for and against them.
1. Provides concrete goals
2. A form of harmless fantasy
1. Limits you
2. Changes your path
3. Limited by your personal context
Instead of a limited, deductive form of living life and achieving goals, we seek to use an inductive form of life. Our goals change throughout our lives, and we’ve both discovered that the best experiences we’ve ever had happened either by chance, or disguised as personal obstacles or tragedy.
The conversation ended just in time to take the exit to Arizona Highway 88 and to set out on this small adventure.
We saw quite a parade of cars driving out to the various recreation areas along the paved portion of the trail. Some of them were horribly ridiculous for the rough nature of even the pavement. A Ferrari 360 Mondial, a Porsche 959 and several new Corvettes were among the parade along the road.
While we were still on the pavement portion of the trail, I decided to try out Marjan off road. We found a hill with an established track, so we took the chance and headed up the hill. We made it to the top, where there was a convenient posing rock, and we took full advantage of it to get super cheesy.
We climbed past several beautiful mountain lakes, up some fantastic valley views, when we broke out on top of a ridge, where the blacktop finally ended. At the first set of wash boards, we saw a hipster with a Smart car looking like he figured out Smart cars are not meant to navigate dirt.
At the first switchback, the two lane gravel track quickly transitions to one late dirt. At the second switchback, the trail drops away several hundred feet just inches on the off-side of the trail. At this moment, Janiece tells me she is not entirely comfortable with heights. (UNDERSTATEMENT ALERT!!!!!)
Unfortunately, it’s a single lane, with two way traffic, and no possible turnaround points for miles.
But Janiece is nothing if not tough, so she not only guts it out, but continues to take pictures of the gorgeous scenery.
We finally get to the bottom of the valley, where there is a place wide enough to turn around, and then we do so, but only after taking in the incredible vistas of this place.
The trip back is relatively uneventful; on the way up, we noticed a likely interesting off-trail path. Once we got back to it, we briefly debated taking it, and I decided to go for it. The first bit was a short stone staircase, and once I got down halfway I realized that a bit of ham was necessary.
Unfortunately, our time ran out before we could really go anywhere on this part off the trail, so we found a wide flat spot, got turned around and headed back. I was elated at how well things went. This is why Land Cruisers are special. We took a completely stock, 20 year old vehicle off road into some moderately challenging situations and came out of it with zero damage or modifications. The drive train just continued to purr effortlessly.