“Morning Jagger, Get up ya greenhorn! Today Janessa is coming up the mountain with Aiden and his friends to our camp.” Jagger opens his sleepy eyes and jumps up, before realizing he has no clue what I’m talking about. I continue, “It’ll be a fun weekend of exploring and new experiences for the boys.” Now he gets excited, “the Boys” he understands, then runs to the window to look for them. “Not yet partner, they won’t be here until tonight to camp with us.”
Yep, our “Winter Camp” in Arizona officially begins and yet its only September. Is Arizona hot you ask? Well yes, in Mesa where I will end up eventually, but here at 8,000 feet it’s actually quite cool in the mornings and a perfect 75 during the days. Jagger and I can’t wait for our first adventure of the season to begin.
This will be Aiden’s first experience “camping on his own”. Such a perfect time, as we are celebrating his 12th birthday.
The Day Crawls
Most of the cloudy daytime crawls, while Jagger and I experience a somewhat normal routine in anticipation of our visitors tonight. Later in the morning the skies clear just in time for our hike. While strolling around the campground we will learn more about the layout and surrounding area. We see very few campers today, but since it’s Friday they will be arriving in droves when the sun sets low in the western sky. At least the rain has stopped. It would be rough entertaining three boys with rain falling in our campground.
First View of the Lake
After lunch, Jagger and I take a quick drive down to the nearby lake only to learn it’s an easy hike or bike ride away. Such a beautiful, deep blue lake in the canyons of this area. The lake is narrow for the most part, with long blue fingers that branch out in side canyons among the green trees. I guess that’s why they named it “Wood’s Canyon Lake”. There are several similar lakes on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona. “Maybe we can do some exploring on the forest roads and find them, Jagger?”
Here They Are Jagger – The Boys
As the Sun begins to set, the time arrives. Janessa backs her truck into the narrow spot I made for her next to the Workhorse. Barely before she could put it in park, the boys jump out running in every direction trying to decide where to put their tent. It was quite a sight.
We went about setting up their tent in hopes to complete it before darkness fell. The boys were very cooperative and we accomplished our task in short order. It also helped that Janessa has a new “Instant Tent“. Tents have come so far over the years. There was no pole assembly or unfolding, it’s almost like opening up a camping chair!
Later that night, the boys already in their tent settling down and I’m making the extra bed in the Coach’s living area. Janessa came up with a crazy excuse to go check on the boys. She couldn’t help herself I guess. She must have been worried, with the temperature dropping rapidly, that she would be taking home frozen boys.
As she walked back into the Coach she was snickering and told me, “when unzipping the tent to peek inside, all three boys were bunched up in one corner of the tent, only taking up the room of maybe one adult.” They were happy to accept a gift she had brought, seven hour hand heat packs, two for each of them to put in their sleeping bags.
The first morning Janessa and I woke up early, we’re talking 5 a.m. early, before the chickens woke for sure. It was pitch black outside, but we both heard the boys laughing and carrying on in their tent. I dressed and threw a coat on as it was in the 30’s outside.
When I got to the tent, I told them to quiet down. Apparently they aren’t aware of the noise guidelines and you know how I feel about those! They said they were cold, but didn’t want to come into the Coach to warm up. Before I left I reminded them to quiet down so they don’t wake the whole camp. They agreed and I retreated back to the warmth of the Coach.
No sooner than getting back in the Coach, the boys wandered in looking for food. I had forgot how much twelve year old boys ate. It seems like it’s almost constant grazing. Aiden begged me to make my “famous” french toast for him and his friends, it’s his favorite. I told the boys to take a hike to the restrooms while I prepared breakfast and went to work.
After breakfast we had to get these kids out to run off some of the sugar. They were given boundaries of where they could go alone and explore. Within their boundaries they found a small area hidden in the bushes and trees, that someone had started a fort with rocks. They continued where the others has left off and it became their “headquarters” for exploration this weekend.
The Unplanned Hike
On Sunday, Janessa made us all lunch and we ventured down to the lake. The boys powered down their sandwiches knowing once we were done we would start our hike along the shoreline. As Janessa and I cleaned up our trash getting ready to go, the boys started playing on some rather tall boulders nearby. It was shortly after that Janessa and I noticed they had moved out of our sight.
We then started up a steep hill to catch up. When getting to the boulders where they were playing they were nowhere to be found. We continued to hike for a while when Janessa belted out Aiden’s name louder than I have ever heard. We walked each trail until seeing someone to ask if the three boys had passed by, each person declining. Janessa continued calling out to Aiden then waiting for a reply.
With only one trail left to try, Janessa ran up ahead while I checked to see if they had walked back to the Workhorse looking for us. To my disappointment the truck was deserted, so I started down the trail Janessa had taken.
“Those boys are in trouble now!” I thought to myself. With the sun lowering in the west I picked up my pace. We don’t have long before we will have to call in the troops if we don’t find them. Part two continues here: Part Two
More Photos: Wood Canyon Lake Mogollon Rim
Campground Review: Aspen Campground