Mingus Mountain, Ho!
Mingus Mountain (the name source is uncertain but is from a last name in the late 1800s) is a serious climb, with AZ 89A as its high launching point. 89A itself is a great drive from Prescott, winding and climbing with some exquisite scenery. Midway between Prescott and Cottonwood, the turnoff to FS104 is well-marked, being noted as the Mingus Mountain Recreation Area. I had expected a no-go here, since FS104 is closed a couple of miles in due to a late snow, but not before FS413 branches off to the right. To my relief, 413 has oodles of unoccupied camping sites before it dives back down to where I decided to turn around. No point in going needlessly far, although the dirt road is graded and fairly smooth. The goal is solitude after all, not four-wheeling adventure. No rain is forecast, but there’s no point in needlessly complicating the possibilities. The climb up to reach 413 is also wide and smooth, making this trek a simple drive.
I finally camped on a nice level spot where I have a pretty good shot at lighting up the solar panels, and I deployed the ground panels too, just for good measure. Most sites here offer at least partial shade during the day, a situation I’m actually trying to minimize for the sake of solar and the low temps. A stout wind is in the treetops, but is merely a breeze at ground level. At 7,402′ elevation, this spot could be considered “too high” at this time of year, but today was about 68 degrees by 3 in the afternoon, my preference, and I’m guessing that nighttime lows might be in the mid-30s. That’s something we’ll just have to see. For comparison, Wickenburg was 87 today, while Prescott was 71, though the site I was at there was running 5-7 degrees warmer during the day and nearly 10 degrees cooler at night. Go figure. But I gots a full load of propane, and more than enough battery and solar to prod the furnace along at night, if it comes to that.
This must be a pretty popular place, as traffic is about one vehicle driving by every 15 minutes or more, but since I’m about 100+ feet from the road and the notable wind is keeping the dust just clear of me, this works. The roads are cautioned to turn to a slippery goo in wet weather, but I suspect that this does not apply to the graveled and graded main sections. Past the pure dirt extensions further down where I turned around, I could sense that monsoon season might be an issue there, particularly since signs warned of difficulties and high clearance needed. No more grading, and no more gravel. Most campsites show ruts from earlier struggles in wet conditions, and I sense that a soaking rain must make getting out an adventure. Mine is no exception, but again, the forecasts say it shouldn’t be an issue. To that end, I can say that it’s an easy drive and camp in any 2WD as long as it’s dry. Soaking wet, umm no.
I seem to be bringing high temperatures with me again this year as I go along, as it was 84 in Cottonwood today (yet ahead of me), and is forecast for the high 80s for the next week, popping 90 a couple of times. For me, that’s definitely exit weather. Since I’m headed that way, I obviously hope it will cool down by the time I get there. I’m basically heading for the Overland Expo just south of Flagstaff, and am blowing time at spots in between at various elevations. Should it stay “hot”, I may choose to resupply and scrape myself off in Cottonwood, then return back here. Yup, I’m a wimp, but I prefer to be a comfortable wimp. At least this run, with distances not being all that great, gives me options. The penalty for doubling back appears to be minimal. Right now, at 5:30 PM, it’s cooled to 61 degrees here. What a great camp!