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West Clear Creek, Arizona 2017

Discussion in 'Outings, Trips & Expeditions' started by Larsen, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Larsen

    Larsen Tracker

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    I want to post some pictures and a description of an overnight trip I did on Labor Day weekend.
    Me and my friend chose to hike down into West Clear Creek canyon, then swim/rock hop up stream to find a place to set up camp.The trail we used to access the creek is the top end of an 8 mile trek down the canyon.

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55430

    We are simply using the top end of this trail to access the creek. The elevation change from where we parked to the creek is 1800' in a little less than 2 miles. Turns out, that's pretty steep! Sometimes I overlook the small details.

    This was the first time I have planned to throw my gear into the creek! I lined my bag with a trash bag before i packed it, then tied it off. I wore shorts and sandals, which turned out to be a little less than ideal for the hike in. I also brought my phone to take pictures with, and used a waterproof case. Worked very well, but I didn't remember to take as many pictures as I would have liked. I don't usually take a camera or a phone on an overnight.

    I took my stainless Mora in its factory sheath strapped to my bag. Sleep system was a homemade oilcloth tarp and a wool blanket. Me and my friend split the food load-out, so I packed in coffee and oatmeal. I don't get to take alot of trips, even overnighters. We like to test out different ways of doing things, and this trip was for stoves. We each packed a few different ultralight options. I went with a penny alcohol stove, and he made a look alike esbit folding stove out of a license plate. Yeah, we are hobos. Haha.

    We drove about 30min up some pretty bad dirt and rocky roads to the trail head, and set off!
    The 10am temperature was just over 100F. Not bad, considering the time of year. Elevation at the trailhead is just over 5700'.


    At about the quarter mile mark, the trail started its descent into the canyon. The 'little' blue hill you can see in the middle is the other side of the canyon. The trail roughly follows a side canyon, which means we are headed right for the base of that 'little' blue hill. We have about 1600' elevation to go.
    IMG_20170903_120255395.jpg

    This is where the proper trail levels off and follows the rim above the creek down about 6 more miles. You can just make out the creek if you look real close. We still have to leave the trail and find our way down to the creek. About 100' left to go.
    IMG_20170904_091019439.jpg

    Needless to say, my hands were too full to take pictures of our climb down to the water. However, once in the creek, the hike in didn't even matter. Such a beautiful wilderness area! We swam for a bit to literally cool our heels, filtered some water to refill our bottles, then headed up the creek. Most of the time we were using rocks or the bank to follow the creek. Some parts the canyon walls closed in and we had to swim.

    Along the way, found the remains of a Blue Heron's lunch. There are alot of small trout and crawdads in these waters. I felt like all I needed was a butterfly net and we could have feasted! The trout didn't seem to be afraid at all as we were wading around. My case prevents the touch screen from working underwater, so no underwater pics unfortunately.
    IMG_20170904_071042657.jpg

    For some reason, I was surprised that my bag floated.
    IMG_20170903_145426360.jpg

    The water may look muddy, but it was very clear. In areas like this, the sun really illuminates the water. Much of the creek is shaded from the overhanging trees.
    IMG_20170903_145528007.jpg

    We didn't make it upstream as far as we planned. Swimming, rock hopping, and wading is pretty slow going. Fun, but slow. We found a pretty decent flat area with a little bit of sand and made camp.
    IMG_20170903_151401935.jpg

    I didn't take many pictures the rest of the day, except for the spoon I carved with my Mora and some rocks to smooth the bowl.
    IMG_20170903_163116105.jpg

    Me and my buddy don't get many chances to hang out, so we spent the rest of the evening just catching up and talking by the fire.
    IMG_20170904_062008659.jpg

    The next morning I took the obligatory selfie with one of the small waterfalls we found.
    IMG_20170904_070232108.jpg

    I also tried to take a nice natural picture of me sitting on the rock in front of the waterfalls. My friend was still in his hammock, so I propped my phone on a rock and dashed thru the water to beat the timer. Who put that tree branch there? I guess I'm not as slick as I think Lol.
    IMG_20170904_070432100.jpg

    After some oatmeal and coffee, we packed up camp and filled our water bottles. We now have to get back out of the canyon. We decided to straight up climb out of the river bottom rather than hike/swim downstream only to then scramble out where we previously climbed down. We saved a few hours this way, as the trail above us was pretty easy to find again.

    The initial hike into the canyon took roughly 1.5 hrs. Once on the trail out, it took us 4 hours to reach the truck. Lesson learned, pay attention to the elevation change! That climb utterly kicked our butts. By the time we reached the top, after 4 short breaks, my legs were cramping bad. I told my wife later, it was like walking on a stair stepper machine for 4 hours.

    Overall, this trip was fantastic. It took a few days for my sore legs to recover, but the refreshed spirit was worth it. I hope this trip report can inspire someone else to take time to head out. I almost gave up when I looked out across the canyon and then down at my sandals. I'm so glad I didn't! I am surprised how well my feet handled improper footwear. No blisters at all.

    As my buddy said later, sometimes it's good to push yourself. If you find yourself in a real situation, you may be only half as prepared.

    So true.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
    fatcat55, Denman, gohammergo and 29 others like this.
  2. Tech

    Tech Solo Craft Supporter Bushclass I

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    I was in that part of the woods a few weeks back scouting for some whitetail and getting familiar with the area. To the left of me in this pic is trail that leads to the bottom of the canyon. I didn't take it that weekend but think I may go back with my wife and give it a go.
    Thanks for sharing man.
    [​IMG]20170819_130326 by Tech Craft, on Flickr
     
  3. Larsen

    Larsen Tracker

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    We passed a few tanks up there. I'd love to spend a whole day just exploring all those roads.

    Verde Lakes has a dollar store now, so you can make an easy pit stop afterwards :p
     
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  4. WhisperInThePine

    WhisperInThePine Wubba lubba dub dub

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    @Tech Looks like that final picture was at the top of Maxwell trail, or Tramway trail? I restored those in 2009 while I was on a trail crew.
     
  5. Tech

    Tech Solo Craft Supporter Bushclass I

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    Yes sir, I do believe it was the tramway trail.
     
  6. pab1

    pab1 Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Looks like a great trip! Thanks for sharing!
     
  7. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Looks like y'all had a great time, thanks for sharing!
     
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  8. central joe

    central joe Guide

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    A good post and great pictures young fellar, thanks for posting it. joe
     
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  9. FIELDCRAFTLTC

    FIELDCRAFTLTC Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Nice outing and report, thanks for sharing!
     
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  10. Grouse Hunter

    Grouse Hunter Supporter Supporter

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    Great pics and TR. Looked fun. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  11. IzaWildman

    IzaWildman Old Dog Supporter

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    Looks like great fun. I love walking and wading creeks, looks like a real nice area.
     
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  12. Primordial

    Primordial Tracker

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    Great trip! Thanks for taking the time to post about it.
     
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