Arizona's Mt Graham and the Coronado Trail...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by dave6253, May 21, 2008.

  1. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    ...and Orange Bikinis :eek1

    Sunday, May 18th, 2008 1:20 PM
    Phoenix, Arizona U.S.A.

    A lone rider mounts up for a two-wheeled adventure.
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    The wife begrudingly snaps photos before I leave. She can't understand why I need more photos of the same bike.
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    I scoot through Phoenix during an early season HEAT WAVE. It's 105 degrees.
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    After more than an hour on the freeway I'm almost out of town.
    I stop for gas off the US60 at Idaho Boulevard.
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    Finally out of town the desert scenery begins.
    The Superstition Mountains
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    Boyce Thompson Arboretum
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    There's more to come.
    #1
  2. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Okay, I must admit I have no pictures of the orange bikinis, but stay tuned for how they become relevant to this RR. :wink:

    I have lurked on this forum long enough. I've decided to become a contributor. I am planning a long tour of Western North America in July. This RR is about a short ride through Eastern Arizona during a shakedown cruise in preparation for the longer one.

    I leave Sunday afternoon with plans to camp on the 10,700 foot Mt Graham near Safford, Arizona. On Monday I will ride the Coronado Trail before returning home through the White Mountains and the Mogollon Rim Country. The Coronado Trail is US 191 between Morenci and Alpine. This was formerly known as the US 666 before the DOT removed the satanic curse and redesignated it the US 191. It is considered one of the least traveled US highways. There are over 100 miles of continuous mountain grades and curves. Definitely one of the best motorcycling roads in Arizona.

    This is my first RR. Feel free to add constructive criticism. Enjoy!

    Queen Creek Tunnel
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    Oncoming Wings
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    #2
  3. MikeCaz

    MikeCaz 2003 F650GS

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Glendale Arizona
    Thanks for the pics and info!
    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    Beautiful intro! :thumb

    Bring on the orange bikinis... :deal

    :lurk
    #4
  5. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Mt Turnbull, San Carlos Indian Reservation
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    Ready for More Action
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    My Studly Self
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    Mt Graham and the Pinaleno Mountains come into view while riding US 70 through the Gila Valley.
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    I stop at a Subway in Safford. The twin towns of Safford and Thatcher make up a decent sized farm town in the Gila Valley. (elevation 2900 feet)I'm not really hungry yet so I toss my foot long dinner in the tank bag. I had three frozen water bottles in the tank bag that kept everything cold for two days of intense heat.

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    I turn onto the 366 about 5 miles South of Safford. Riggs Flat Lake is a high altitude lake locals say is good for fishing. The road dead ends at the lake. As you can see in this photo the road is very straight as it begins up the base.
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    10 minutes from town the scenery changes drastically.
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    About 15 minutes from town the temperature has dropped from 98 degrees to 65 degrees. I think this place was called Wet Canyon Bridge. It feels like a million miles from the desert already.
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    The twisties on this road are great although some are very challenging. In fact I would say this is the most challenging asphalt road I've ever ridden. There are some corners so tight you need to be comfortable making sharp first gear u-turns with elevation changes. Many of the corners have a decreasing radius and don't look too bad at first, so make sure you can see the corner exit before charging in too fast. Also many corners had loose gravel and sandy patches. Lots of exposure with no guardrails.

    Don't tip over here...
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    I'm riding towards a sharp right corner when I notice a Jeep Wrangler stopped at a pullout on the left side of the road. I spot a smokin' hot blonde chick walking up to the passenger side of the Jeep. She is wearing tight blue jeans and an orange string bikini top. Needless to say, she gets my attention. She pauses and turns to watch me pass. In retrospect, I think she was only interested because she thought she would get to see a motorcycle crash! I finally decide I should look back at where I'm going. I've started my right turn far too early! I'm heading towards the rock face on the right edge of the road. I'm thinking about how much it's going to suck, crashing with an audience!
    :yikes
    I managed to change direction abruptly and save my sorry ass.

    I scoot around the corner and get my first view of the desert to the south. I start looking for a spot to stop and get a picture, but there are no safe spots with a good view through the trees. I do a U-turn to go back to get the shot I missed. The Jeep carrying miss orange bikini passes me going the other way.

    "Hey honey, that pervert turned around for another look!"

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    I stopped here to get the previous shot. You can see the corner I almost missed in the far right of the photo.
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    It's green here.
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    I catch up with the Jeep again a little while later.

    "Look Honey, that pervert is now tailgating us."

    The Jeep driver pulls off the road. Either to let me pass, or see if I'm really stalking them. I need to find a place to sleep and they had stopped across the driveway to the Shannon Campground. I wave my thanks and pull around the Jeep into the campground. It seems like a nice spot. There aren't many nice views with the trees close to the sites. There's only 8-10 sites and 3 are taken. I've got a little daylight left so I decide to ride further and see what else I can find.

    The pavement ends...
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    After about 2 miles of decent gravel road I'm rewarded with this campground.
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    I've got the place to myself!
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    Apparently I'm not the first adventurer in these parts.

    Historic Marker
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    Clean pit toilets. No running water.
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    To be continued.............
    #5
  6. Tucson Jim

    Tucson Jim Been here awhile

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    Tucson, AZ
    Nice RR. Our first overnight ride on my new KLR was from Tucson, up the Coronado trail to Springerville and then to Show Low. My Mother used to live in Safford and we haven't been to Mt. Graham in ages, time for a ride!!
    #6
  7. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Location:
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    I make myself at home.
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    Yummy! I'll bet the bears love the smell of Subway.
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    After the lights went out the meadow around my tent was filled with deer. They didn't seem to mind my presence at all when I lit them up with the LED headlamp. I crawled into the tent and started a Micheal Connelly novel. It was a very quiet night with no wind. The only sounds, the water from the stream running through the meadow, and an occasional deer snorting.


    Good Morning!
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    My favorite breakfast bars. Hmmm.... what flavor? Delicious!
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    I get to try out the new Tourmaster gear!
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    Going down the mountain.
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    I left the campground with the temp gauge reading 52. After about 10 minutes of riding it's 75. I stop here to strip down to my skivvies and get back into the mesh gear. I was sweltering in the textile gear. I had no liners in and every possible vent open, but couldn't handle it anymore. I don't understand how some of you guys can wear textile riding gear above 80 degrees.

    I had no T-Mobile cellular service at the campground, but I do here. I call the wife to check in. She warns me it's forecast to be 110 degrees in Phoenix today!
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    Heading east out of Safford I stop to get a picture of paradise in the sky. It's in the mid 80s already.
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    It's Farm Country
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    On the US 191 Approaching the Morenci Mine
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    I enter the small town bewteen cliff walls, named Clifton. Look closely in the photo and you can see the reason for the traffic jam.
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    That big yellow thing is an oversized load. A flatbed is slowly being escorted through town carrying a new bed for a GIANT DUMP TRUCK.
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    I stop in Clifton for gas.
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    I meet and old guy who is wishing he was here on his Yamaha FJR 1300 instead of with his wife in an old Ford Taurus. He said he's coming through here next month with his riding buddies. He agrees to snap my photo. I didn't even get his name. :dunno
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    The US 191 basically drive right through one of the largest open pit mines in the world.
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    Looking back down into Clifton.
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    Next... Photos of the mine and LARGE DUMP TRUCKS!
    #7
  8. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Tucson Jim,

    Mt Graham would be a great place to explore on a KLR. Many Phoenix area riders know of the Coronado Trail, but Mt Graham is widely overlooked I think.
    #8
  9. gasandasphalt

    gasandasphalt Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Great RR, did you get any close-up photos of the copper mine?? enjoyed!!!, not sure i would be intrested in going home if it was 110deg. might be a good time for a :1drink
    #9
  10. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Copper Mine Operations

    Ore crosses the road here...
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    ...and up those conveyor belts back there.
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    Final destination for the over-sized load.
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    Looks like they assemble the new trucks here.
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    There is a mine overlook just off the road with shady MC parking.
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    And Camera Ports
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    Looking Left
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    10X Zoom
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    Looking Right
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    10X Zoom is Sweet!
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    Busy Like Ants
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    Time to put my head down and have some fun in the twisties of the Coronado Trail.
    #10
  11. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    GasandAsphalt,

    Did I answer your question with the Mine Photos?

    But it's a dry HEAT. :D
    #11
  12. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I was having fun in the twisties and only slowed down to snap a few shots, one-handed.

    Lean Left!
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    Lean Right!
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    Sometimes the road is straight... For a little bit.
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    A Buell with New Mexico Plates waiting for an opportunity to pass an idiot riding one-handed...
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    The View From Blue Vista
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    The area of Blue Vista has experienced a fire since the last time I was here.
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    I think this sign used to say "Blue Vista 9100 feet".
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    Snow!!! It won't last long at 75 degrees.
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    Quaking Aspen
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    The Area Around Hanagan's Meadow
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    Nelson Reservoir
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    Will there be another orange bikini?

    :eek1
    #12
  13. AZbiker

    AZbiker Crunkin' with crackers

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    Great RR!

    Since I'm taking 2 days to get to West Fest, I might have to go up Mt. Graham before I take Hwy 666. Thanks for the idea!
    #13
  14. Tucson Jim

    Tucson Jim Been here awhile

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    Tucson, AZ
    Nice pics, and since they already probably thought you were a pervert, we would have liked to see some pics of the orange jeep bikini!!
    #14
  15. Chanderjeet

    Chanderjeet IndiYeah !!

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    Location:
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    Wow, this is great RR. I like your pics and your bike is really kool. Havent seen so many people riding a sportsbike off the tarmac. Really good pics mate and thanks for sharing :thumb :clap
    #15
  16. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Chanderjeet,

    Thanks for the reply. Your RRs from the high passes in the Himalayas are truly amazing and inspiring.
    #16
  17. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I know. I failed miserably in getting photos of the correct things. Not only once...:cry
    #17
  18. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I stop in Springerville for lunch. It appears I have a choice of Subway or McDonalds.

    I'm at the Subway counter ordering a foot long when I notice a Harley Bagger pull into the parking lot. As the couple dismount I notice both are wearing matching red and black 3/4 length Dianese Textile Jackets. Highly unusual in the US I think.

    The Harley Rider enters, spots me at the counter, and heads over with a big grin on his face. He has long curly gray hair and full beard. He asks, "Have you ridden far". I can tell by the thick English accent I hadn't ridden as far as them. I'm wondering how he got that Harley over the pond.

    Quentin and Sandy (or Cindy, I couldn't tell with the accent) recently retired in England. He managed a large attorney firm. She was a school teacher.

    After retirement they flew to Phoenix and rented the Harley to live out a long time dream. They spent the last three and a half weeks riding all over the Western US. They have the rest of the week left before flying home. They were heading to Silver City, NM and Bisbee, AZ.

    Quentin shows me their map. Even though they are sitting at the beginning of the Coronado Trail they had left it off their planned route. I grab my camera and show them what they will miss. I hope they managed to include it.

    I should've snapped a photo of Quentin and Sandy, since some of you here may have seen them on the road. I leave them in a hurry to get home.

    I ride the US 60 to Show Low, and the US 260 to Payson. This is the Mogollon Rim Country. (pronounced Mo Gee Un)

    I stop at this tricky little pullout. It's located just past the turnoff for Woods Canyon Lake, and just before the road drops over rim into the Christopher Creek Area.
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    Be careful getting in. Loose Gravel & Downgrade
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    Spectacular Views
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    I take the SR 87 "The Beeline Highway" from Payson. The pines end quickly after leaving Payson. I get a few more desert scenery shots.
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    It's gettin HOT. I find a small spot of shade to gulp down the last of my water.
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    There's always something blooming in the desert.
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    X Marks the Spot
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    Mile Marker 204, Four Peaks Wilderness
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    I enter the Valley of the Sun in Fountain Hills. I'm immediately surrounded by luxury cars coming out of the affluent neighborhoods. I notice very few motorcycles out. All of the cars had the windows up tight and the covertible tops closed. I'm the only idiot out in the HEAT. The temp guage is reading 110.

    I take Shea Boulevard west. I hate this road. There are too many traffic lights. They are all perfectly timed to turn RED just before you get there, no matter what speed you ride. When the light turns green the drag race begins as everyone tries to jockey for position at the next RED light.

    I'm winning this race and get the supreme position for the RED light at 136th Street. I'm the first vehicle stopped at the crosswalk in the fast lane when I spot Miss Orange Bikini 2 on the left corner. This orange bikini is being sported by a deeply tanned brunette wearing blue running shorts. Even though the "Don't Walk" sign had started flashing she's jogging in place and checking traffic. You can make it! You can make it! She must hear me and starts across. My front wheel is about 5 feet into the crosswalk and she must pass within a couple feet. I get a close-up inspection of this orange bikini. No KTM logos. It was actually an orange sports bra, but it was skimpy enough to qualify as a bikini. Nice! :eek1

    I'm looking to my right to ensure the young lady makes it safely to the sidewalk when I notice 2 old ladies in a white Toyota have the jump on me. The drag race has begun, and I'm sitting still. I check my mirror to see a silver Mustang convertible (with the top up) about to rear end me!

    I take off narrowly avoiding the second collision in one trip caused by an orange bikini. As I pass the old ladies in the Toyota I can almost hear them telling each other about the pervert nearly getting what he deserves. (Both are secretly wishing they still have what it takes to stop traffic.)

    To my wife: Honey, if you happen to read this, I promise I would've never noticed either girl if they had not been sporting KTM ORANGE. Of course a new KTM motorcycle may alleviate this symptom... :evil
    #18
  19. keram

    keram Adventurer

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    Thanks for sharing, great pictures.
    #19
  20. GotDrySocks?

    GotDrySocks? Llego lejos.

    Joined:
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    Many thanks for the RR and pics. Great bike you're riding.

    I grew up in Thatcher, Az (50's-60's). As a teenager rode my BSA up Mt. Graham many times to camp/fish at Snow Flat and Riggs before the road was paved. Coming down the mtn. was exciting... dirt all the way and no disc brakes.

    Larry
    Athens, Tx
    #20