Rincon Squatters

California desert last spring, Hi Line last fall, Big Bend this winter. The evolution of 30 days in a tent continues; embracing a nomadic experience of ever nuttier excursions. Leaving progress with the express purpose to regress. To live primitive, away from unnecessary but relied upon conveniences. To find areas (in the lower 48) where the din of politics, social media, and development have not reached. To sleep on the ground, harness energy from the sun, live like its 1824 not 2024, encounter nature on her terms.

Be my Valentine?

After a nauseating return ride from Guale, we took 2 hours to recuperate back at the progressive Sauceda bunkhouse with shower, kitchen and wifi, before the 12 mile trek for three regressive days in Fresno Canyon. Ranger Kat provided verbal directions – take the 15 grade descent in low gear. Lock your hubs if you can. When you get to the three caves, Fresno Canyon Campground is 10 minutes further on your left. If you get to Rincon you went too far. It’s a little tricky cause someone took the signs, but we piled up some rocks so you should be able to find it. Unbelievably, we left with no further questions.

This steer has no further questions.

Instead of a five o’clock somewhere cocktail, we were having a five o’clock oh dang, with the sun dropping below the peak of Rincon Mountain and no campground in sight. For more than a few hours, we’d been hiking, rock crawling and picking our way through the massive wash of boulder fields, cactus scrub, and eroded walls of the Fresno Canyon looking for a campsite hidden behind one of a hundred berms of rock outcroppings.

Ode to the Flatirons

The road into the Canyon was the most technically challenging rock scramble we have ever undertaken. We have no doubt in our minds that two retired folks dragging electric bikes on the front bumper of an enormous F250 used primarily to commute to pickleball should not be on this road. We are high clearance 4WD as ordered in the Ford brochure. What Ranger Kat should have said is that the road is suitable for specialty vehicles that have been heavily modified for over-roading in steep rocky terrain. Start with the brochure, then go to Trick-Your-Truck and get a new suspension, lift and tires. You’ve seen the Jeep Rubicon with the fenders removed and spinning 37 inch Rock Crawlers? Bring that instead.

Ford asked us to post this commercial.

Cringing as we occasionally bottomed out and crossed fingers that nothing was broken, our nerve wracked, scrambled organ bodies and beat up front hitch made it onto the canyon floor – a massive sand and rock wash that bifurcates into dozens of tire tracks going off in all directions. Using our nonexistent tracking skills we followed the freshest looking tire treads until our mileage counter and watch told us we should have arrived, only to find that we had not. Eagle eyed Eric spotted a downed pole in the bushes on our fourth pass through the area, marking the overgrown and narrow road to Rincon 1 and 2. We did not have a permit for Rincon. Ours was for the elusive Fresno Canyon. But with sun behind the mountain, there was no turning back, we were ready to make some new friends.

Three golden minutes reflected from the sun setting behind Rincon Mountain

Lucky us, Rincon 1 was empty, as was all of Fresno Canyon. Taking a chance that no one was coming, we made basic camp – tent and kitchen with a roaring mesquite fire in place of the Clam as a retreat from the dark and cold. Eric made grill cheese sandwiches while Sheri got over her nausea. By 9 pm we were in the tent, resolved that if anyone were crazy enough to arrive with their permit at that hour, they could just kill us or join us and we’d be okay with either one.

After four hours of searching, Fresno Camp found! It didn’t matter. Our ride could not get there.

The next morning we unhitched the bikes and went back to the wash with our $10 topo map to scour the area for our campsite, which was supposedly 0.4 miles away from Rincon 1. After two hours of searching, we accidentally found it on foot by following a trail of horse scat to Fresno Canyon Road. Ranger Kat never mentioned that road, how to access it or that it is impassible by a 20 foot truck carrying 75 pounds of electric road bikes. We met a caravan of heavily modified Jeeps heading for what we guessed was a Monster Jam meetup.

Lunchtime arts and crafts at Rincon Mountain

We think back to the conversation we had with Ranger Kat prior to departing for Fresno Canyon. She left out a lot of details that would have been extremely helpful, like you don’t have the right set up for that ride. Your truck is too big for the V ruts you are going to have to navigate. Those bikes are going to get pummeled. You might even break the rack. The road to Fresno Canyon is worse than Guale. Had she ever actually been here? Big Band Ranch is for serious overlanders only. If you come, you’ve been warned. Or maybe that is just Texas attitude. Do it if you want to. Don’t come crying to us if you die. Either way, it’s a bit of culture shock from our “Florida Lifestyle.” We hate it today, but the appeal summons us and so we go.

Good Culture cottage cheese. It’s what’s for breakfast.

We are the squatters in Rincon 1. If the actual permit holder show up, they will have to wait 30 minutes for us to drop our tent and hit the road. Where will we go? Who the hell knows? One problem at a time please.

It may feel like you, but you are not alone.