West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon, Redux, Redux
Seems Drewboy has created a following :)
I, like Roadtorque, was inspired by Drewboy and I _had_ to get out and see the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon, just south of Flagstaff, Arizona. I finally coerced a co-worker to join me on an S24O up the canyon. We took off from work at 1700 and made it down to the trailhead around 1730 and were hiking at 1745.
As others have eloquently mentioned, this place is magical. The canyon walls tower thousands of feet high, and the vegetation is remarkable (especially considering this is Arizona!). The first few miles are sandy, but there are portions that can be hiked in the creek.
I hiked the entire time in my Teva Itunda sandals and they worked great.
We hiked until sunset and found a hidden spot to set up our hammocks. I brought along the new IX Underquilt from MacEntyre. The IX UQ worked like a charm. This is the new sewn-in version from Mac and the set-up is nice. I used the Grand Trunk Nano 7 hammock and the GoLite Poncho Tarp as my primary shelter. My total pack weight with consumables was around 8 lbs (skin-out was 12 lbs).
My best guess for the overnight low was between 65 and 70°F. I actually sweated a little with the IX UQ, but not enough to chill. When I would move around, the IX UQ would warm up well and I was fine. I wore a light nylon t-shirt, shorts, sleeping socks, and used a fleece blanket for insulation. I slept wonderfully all night. The IX UQ worked so well, I didn't have to even think about it all night. It was wonderful. Thanks Mac!
My friend borrowed another hammock of mine and one of my sewn-up Poncho Liner Underquilts (PLUQ). He didn't bring any top insulation and said he did fine until about 0400 when he woke with a little chill.
True to our stealthy purpose, we ate our dinner along the trail, and continued to hike until dark to camp. We got up at 0445 and packed up to get on the trail early. Near our camping location was a large fire pit, so we did the only responsible thing we could think of: we tossed the rocks back into the river, dispersed the burned wood, re-filled the are with sand, and packed out the garbage.
We were on the trail by 0545 and enjoyed the solitude on the trail (can I just say that hammock camping makes set-up and take-down so fast and easy?). We encountered some slack-packers who set up tents along the trail and were starting to wobble out of their caves at 0730. Apparently the "no camping within 6 miles of the trailhead" is only casually observed. We again stopped along the trail for breakfast, and once finished, completed our hike out of the canyon. We were back home in Flagstaff by 0930. Short but sweet.
After sharing my photos and videos with my family, my kids are eager to visit this place, and I'm game for a HF group hang any time!
Since the forum has been overwhelmed by Oak Creek photos, I tried to pick a few unique shots that haven't been shown. Enjoy!
I'm guessing this was little homestead just past the trailhead.
Sportin' the HF Buff.
My buddy was much stealthier than I -- my set-up pops out like a blueberry. I was using the IX UQ and the GoLite Poncho Tarp with the GT Nano 7. Buddy was using the GT Silk Parachute Single with an Army poncho for a tarp and one of my PLUQs.