From hill Sun Jan 21 22:17 MST 1996: Here's the short report on our trip to the Superstitions on Saturday January 20, 1996. Attendance was a little slim as only Bob and Bobby Peterson in "Willy" and myself in "The river ..... runs through it". Actually we may have to change the name to "It through the river runs" now that I've got the suspension lift and 35" tires. We started the day with some fine omlettes at Claire's in Catalina.
We drove north from Tucson on routes 77/79 and then east on 60 until the turnoff toward Queen Valley. There's no gas at Florence Junction so we drove into Queen Valley RV park to top up on gas. Then after exploring a little side trail we got on FR172 heading north. FR172 is a two-wheel drive road all the way, but the scenery is fabulous as was Saturday's weather. As advertised in the magazine article, there is a turnoff 5 miles up on FR172 that leads to a couple fabulous hill climbs. Vehicles with open differentials and/or small tires need not apply, but the two long-wheelbase Chevys scampered right up with enough wheelspin to make it fun. We ate lunch near some mining digs on a peak with a 360-degree view of the Superstitions. My truck seems to have plenty of climbing power with the new BFG 35x12.50s and the stock 4.10 gears, so I've decided not to install lower gears. I'll keep this current setup with double overdrive for now. The road becomes more interesting and requires 4WD when you reach the junction of FR650 and FR172A near the wilderness boundary.
About a mile down FR650, my right side tie rod came loose from the centerlink. This of course makes it quite difficult to steer since you can only turn one wheel. On the trail repairs were undertaken. We had the tie rod extracted from where it had wedged under the axle/CV joint when 10 trucks from the "Motorola Wheelers" came down the trail the other way. They patiently waited and even helped as I re-filed the threads on the inner tie rod end. The joint was still intact but the threads had been seriously mangled as it came loose. Fortunately I was packing a couple spare nuts. After about 1:20 hours, repairs were complete. I backed out so the Mototrola trucks could get past, then we followed them back out on FR172 as that was the shortest way back to pavement. In about a mile, we caught up to them as they were changing a tire on a Bronco parked on a 10-degree slope. This job took a while as one of the wheel studs had bad threads. Needless to say I was not complaining even a little about the holdup on the trail. The day got even more bizzare when the OTHER tie rod fell off about 2 miles down the road. This repair only took about 15 minutes, so we made it back out to route 60 about sunset. It seems that John/John failed to tighten the tie rod ends sufficiently when we installed the lift kit. It is remarkable that they both came off so close together since I'd run the whole Pizza Run last week without incident. The trip reached a high cholesterol conclusion with steak and prime rib at "Yolonda's Chuckwagon" at AZ79 & Cactus Forest Road (this place wins our seal of approval). Since we never did make it the whole way down FR650, a return trip will be needed at some point.
See the article on this area in the September 1999 issue of Arizona Highways.
Last modified: Wed Sep 15 15:50:36 1999