Fall days brought comfortable temps to the mountains, but we weren’t into the snowy cold, which made for perfect ’wheeling weather. Days were mild and nights were just cold enough to make sliding into a sleeping bag just right.
We came for the scenery as much as for the trail challenges. There’s just something about getting away from it all, the smell of the pines, and clean air out in the mountains. We did some exploring in the Tonto National Forest near Payson, Arizona. We followed Forest Service roads and some dirt two-tracks that wound through the woods. Dropping into wash trails, we followed shelves of rock on hard creek bottoms with scattered fields of loose river rock.
We’ve run these trails on warm summer days and in winter ice. Our weekend found us with a fairly dry trail, but when rain torrents come, the soggy bottom can mean wet tires and the occasional muddy climb. Seasonal weather changes the terrain, as old dirt is washed away in floods and rock is pushed around to form new obstacles for the next time our tires drop into the canyon.