After reading the trip report by Drewboy on his trip to the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon posted here http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/s...ad.php?t=19093 I decided to go check it out myself. I had planed on doing an overnight trip with a buddy of mine but we were having a hard time deciding were to go. After seeing the pics posted on the above trip report I decided that was the place.
Here is my adventure.
After reading a few guide books and sending emails with questions to Drewboy and Pisandoc (thanks for all the advice) I got a mental gear list made. Our trip would begin after a short day of work on Friday the 9th of July. I had hoped to be all packed the night before because I was worried about getting to the trail head to late to begin the trip. Having said that the trip almost got canceled before it even started. I called my buddy Thursday night to confirm everything was still a "go". He told me he would not get off work until 7:00pm Friday which would be putting us at the trail head at 10:00pm! I talked him into canceling some of his work so we could leave around noon. After getting off the phone my power went out which delayed my packing until the next day.
Friday, the day of the trip turned out to be busy. I got up early to get my gear out of bins and into a pile on my floor. Then it was off to a half day of work. I got home about noon and quickly tossed all my gear into my pack and headed out the door. It was close to 1:00pm when I started my two hour drive to Sedona, Az. I arrived in Sedona about 3:00pm (about an hour behind schedule) and called my buddy to see where he was. Turns out he was just leaving home for his 1.5 hour drive to Sedona. As I drove around town looking for a place we could safely leave a car I began wondering if we would get to the trail head to late to begin the trip. The problem would be walking in water in a very narrow canyon as the sun went down and temps cooled off. Because of fire restrictions I knew we needed enough time to get into camp and dry off before the sun went down.
Well, I finally met up with my friend and drove to the trail head. It was now 4:30pm and we were 2.5 hours behind schedule parked at the trailhead in the middle of a thunderstorm. We sat there for about 10 minutes trying to figure out if we should start the hike or head into town and get a hotel room and day hike it the next day. As we talked the rain began to let up so we grabbed our gear and headed up the canyon. After all, we had planned on getting pretty wet anyway.
The canyon was beautiful and the sky cleared up as we hiked on. The first 3 miles of the trail were on a very sandy path that was well traveled. One guide book I had read listed this as the most popular day hike in Sedona. Due to the thunderstorms very few people on the trail. We passed only one couple and a solo hike who were on their way out of the canyon. The trail registry indicated that someone else would be spending the night in the canyon but we wouldn't run into them until the next day on our way out.
My friend and I talked as we hiked and the sandy trail eventually gave way to the river. We had both brought our waterproof hiking boots and used those for the first 3 miles until the water got to deep. We then switched to sandals, I left my wool socks on with my sandals while my friend opted for no socks which later proved to be a mistake. By the time we got to camp his feet were pretty raw in some places. We walked another mile up the canyon and I was enjoying myself although my friend was struggling. I have always hike with hiking poles and my friend makes fun of me for it. I had them on this hike which helped a lot in the river, he had nothing which slowed him down a lot. His pride got in the way until his progress became very slow at which point he found a large branch which would serve as his hiking staff the rest of the trip.
With his hiking staff we were able to make a quicker pace although he had expended a lot of energy trying to keep his balance in the river without hiking poles and soon began to get tired. He kept wanting to stop and set up camp, apparently in the middle of the river, but I refused due to the rules stating you must hike in 6 miles before camping.
As we continued to hike his stubbornness, brought on by tiredness proved to be a blessing and was the reason we found a campsite. It had began getting late in the day and we needed to find a place to set up camp so we could dry off before dark came. I had assumed we were about 6 miles into the canyon so I agreed to stop at the first suitable place. We continued hiking and looking for a place to stop but the canyon remained narrow and I kept moving on looking for a place upstream where the canyon would widen. Eventually we got to the face of a small cliff (in my opinion) and my friend refused to take another step. I left him there and headed up the canyon to see if there was a suitable campsite further up. I didn't see anything so I headed back to where I had left my friend. He had climbed the face of the cliff and had found a nice campsite up there. As I said before his stubbornness to take another step at that point proved to be a blessing or we would have missed that campsite. I really wish I had taken a pic of us going up or down that rock face. I estimate it at a 60-70 degree slope which we would not have made it up with out the aid of fallen tree.
We climbed up the small cliff face and set up our gear just before sun down. Luckily I had worn quick drying cloths and my friend who was decked out in cotton had brought a change of cloths. We were both dry before bed time which had been a major worry for me. After we set up camp we had a simple dinner. Some previous campers and made some chairs out of rock which we didn't make use of due to the hundreds of spiders that came out after dark. After dinner we went to bed. I brought my new blackbird to try out and my friend slept in his spider covered tent!
I was pretty pleased with the blackbird and how comfortable it was. I really like having the shelf to store things. My only complaint might have been due to operator error. As I unzipped the hammock the next morning the zipper got snagged on the fabric an tore it up a little. I didn't sleep very well that night, which I never do while camping, and probably got 3 hours of shut eye.
With a pad under me and my Hudson river TQ I was way to warm and kept kicking the quilt off. The whole night was a bit unnerving as I listened to what sounded like explosions followed by rockfall. It defiantly made me nervous considering I was hanging under a cliff face and some of the rockfall sounded close. I was laying there waiting for a rock to come crashing through my hammock and take me out. Other than that, I opted not to pitch my tarp and enjoyed the occasional view of the stars between the clouds throughout the night.
The first pic below is the view upwards from my hammock taken the next morning as I laid in my hammock watching the sky get lighter.
After my friend woke up, due to a raven making an incredible amount of noise, we had breakfast and explored the campsite a little. It was a very well used site with a lot of "stuff" that people had carried in. There were a few grill racks, a pair of reading glasses, a set of dice someone had made out of two rocks, a cooler, a large propane tank ( I feel sorry for the guy that hauled that in) and a bunch of trash. Seems like you can never get away from trash
The second pic below is the fire pit and rock chairs people had made.
After exploring the area we broke camp and prepared to head out. I was wanting to get an early start out of the canyon so I could take a lot of pictures which I had missed on the way in. Before I broke camp I snapped a pic of my blackbird which I barely had room to squeeze between two trees. (It's the third pic below).
The way out was full of beautiful weather and scenery and a lot of butterflies. (The rest of the pics are on the way out)
Despite taking our time, and a lot of pics on the way out we got back to the trail head about noon. Due to the good weather we passed a lot of people on their way into the canyon on a day hike.
After getting to the car we headed into town to end our trip with a lunch. Over all I had a great time. The company was good and the beauty of the canyon was breathtaking. I'm already planning a return trip to check out the second half of the canyon which we didn't see. Enjoy the pics