Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Let's Go! {Ashurst Lake + Forked Pine Campgrounds}

This past weekend we went camping near flagstaff! I had a great time and even though {as you'll see} things didn't go exactly as planned, but I was just happy to be out and about with family and friends. I love that we're creating this tradition for our kids, these memories they'll remember when they're older.  Sure, they might not remember this exact spot or the stories that go along with it, but we're planting the seeds of wonder and I hope they grow up loving adventures as much as I do.
Since we got into Flagstaff around breakfast time, and we didn't really eat anything before our drive up we decided to stop at Macy's.   
I got the Cappuccino Royale {cappuccino with sprinkled coco powder and whipped cream!} 
I ordered waffles with fruit for the girls.
and myself the VEGETARIAN Biscuits and Gravy + egg. 
Husband got the egg sandwich and everything on the menu looked amazing.  I actually wanted to go there again the next morning.
Originally, we had planned to camp in Lockett Meadow but we weren't the only ones.  Since this is the time of year that the trees change colors, the area is restricted to 50 cars at a time, once one goes out another can go it.  It was so crowded as we approached the trail we didn't even bother trying to hike in, let a lone camp. Instead we snapped a photo a bit further out while exploring for another site. 
You can see the beautiful colors sprinkled on the mountain and the snow capped San Francisco Peaks.  Next year, we're planning on going during the week to avoid the crowds! 
After exploring the area we decided to camp near Lake Mary. 
We drove around the whole lake and further past it.
Until we found Ashurt Lake and a campsite that seemed good enough.  Plus the girls woke up from their car ride nap so finding a spot, even if it meant settling was worth it. 
It was a bit of a challenge to get the tent set up since there were lots of lava rocks and under the soil was solid rock.
Since we didn't have an exact spot picked out, and we all drove separately, I had to drop a pin and then send it to everyone else using my phone's map app. oddly enough this spot had LTE and we all had reception.  Once everyone else got there they set up their tents.
The girls love camping with our friends puppies.
Cousins! Arthur Espen and Sonja Chetan
Even though Husband wasn't stoked on this spot I was happy because it was by the water.
Piper seemed to enjoy it too.
I loved all these lava rocks, made me miss Kauai though, Queen's Bath specifically.
After some beautiful lighting in the evening we all started getting hungry.
This time I kept my life simple and packed soup and grilled cheese supplies.  The cheese didn't melt great, but it was warm enough to keep the bread together, to avoid washing extra silverware, I just cut the sandwich into strips so they were easily dunkable. 
I mean you guys, are you looking at this sunset? 
while most of the lakes in AZ are man made or low during drought, Ashurst has a reputation for retaining water even in dry spells and is stocked with rainbow trout along with other fish.
After Sam and the Puppies played fetch and it actually got dark, we set up our fire.
We also heated up some apple cider on the fire for our bourbon. 
don't worry Vera's just drinking juice.
Look at us Phoenicians getting lots of use out of our fancy jackets!
Need to invest in a better lens but as you can see the stars are so much easier to see out here.  
Early the next morning we work up with the sun. 
Husband started the eggs and toast.
The dogs and kids make for the best entertainment on our adventures.
After breakfast we broke down our campsite and loaded up the car. 
THEN, Sonja spotted this spider! 
Even though Tarantulas are native to Arizona this is the first time I've ever seen one in nature.  I think this one is the Arizona Blond Tarantula.  After getting the car loaded up and we said goodbye to our new friend we set out on our way back home.
We ended up taking the dirt road down towards Mormon Lake and found some changing leaves on our drive.
I think we'll probably camp in this area next time it had a little more vegetation and so many squirrels. 

As for the actual site, here's a quick review of the campsite {1 being worst, 10 being best}:
Location {and Distance}: 6.5
Located about 2 hours away from Phoenix taking I-17 up to flagstaff then Lake Mary Road out, practically as far as it goes.
Road: 7
The road from the highway to the campsite was paved for most of the drive and then a dirt road totally manageable in a 2 wheel drive vehicle, it was pretty smooth with just a few minor pot holes.
Secluded: 6
The campsite "closes" mid October and is free during that time, it wasn't very crowded so there was adequate space between other campers, but we could hear people shooting and the people across the dirt road from us were blasting terrible 90s and early 2000s music.
View: 7
I loved that we were close to the water and the sunset was beautiful! I think the area is probably much greener and lush with more rainfall but it was still pretty.
Bathrooms: 4
None. there were bathrooms but because the site was closed they were boarded up, which means walking into the forest to do your business, but there weren't many bushes so we had to walk pretty far out to get some privacy.
Campsite Fixtures: 6
All sites at Forked Pine had a cement picnic table, and fire pit, but the tent areas weren't great because of the rocky soil.
Trash, Water and Food: 8
Trash, water and food should always be stored in the trunk where bears can not see it or access it.  There wasn't anywhere to dump trash or recycling on site, so we just brought it home with us.  There was no wild harvesting food nearby.  I wouldn't suggest drinking the lake water, I'm not sure how to sanitize that, there were no running streams nearby.
Animals: 4
We only saw the spider and then squirrels on our way home, I have to say with all that grass near our site, there definitely has to be snakes, we didn't see any, thankfully.  I don't know if I really ever want to see a rattle snake, I think as long as I have small children I'm okay not seeing them.
Pets: Yes
This area was not maintained so Pets were fine.
Group Accommodation: NA
Since this area was not maintained mid October to May we could basically do whatever we would if we were dispersed camping.
Water {lakes, ponds, and oceans}: 8
We were right on Ashurst Lake.
Well Drained: 10
Our campsite was flat but elevated in general and the slope of the hill we were near was just enough of a slant that any rain would have drained right down leaving our site in tact.
Firewood: 3
No firewood nearby to gather since the area was damp, we brought some up from someone local who always has firewood for sale in their front yard, $20 for a bundle, and it lasted the whole night.
Management: NA
Campsites were not maintained because they were closed for the season.
Reservations: NA
we did not make reservations, first come first serve.
Cost and Permits: FREE
Since it's closed for the season it's free, until May.

Where should should we try next in AZ?!

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