Posts Tagged ‘swimming holes’

Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

New thing: I have a tumblr going – Travels with Bongo – where I post photos, many from hikes.

Old thing: Another behind-the-hike from Five Star Trails in Flagstaff and Sedona.

 

WET BEAVER WILDERNESS (BELL TRAIL)

 

Hike #1

DATE: 4/26/10

COMPANIONS: Steve (an adult friend), his son, and Ben.

START TIME: 12:30p

END TIME: about 5pm

ACTUAL MILES: 8

 

Hike #2

DATE: 5/7/10

COMPANIONS: none

START: 9am

END:

ACTUAL MILES:

 

Yes, it really is called the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness. I’ll pause now so you can make the inappropriate comment my publisher would never allow me to make myself.

 

….

 

Done now? OK.

 

Easy hike to do – hard hike to write. The biggest reason was that this was hike #2 – and the first hike I knew For Certain would make the guidebook. (Airport Mesa – hike #1 chronologically – was in and out of the line-up for a while).  I had imagined that I could cover every possible spur and alternate route, and the guidebook would be Epic and Exhaustive.

 

Turns out that even if I had the time and energy to document each hike that way (and no one does), I have a word limit. It’s a guidebook – it’s not an encyclopedia.

 

But that’s why I had a second hike – to cover the Brockett and Weir spurs I didn’t get to on the main hike. The Weir spur is totally worth it – by the way.

 

The publisher was also spooked about the crossing through private property, and I had to show them the Forest Service language that explicitly authorized this. It’s cool, kids. Just stay on the trail.

 

The photo on the back cover of the book is from this hike. The boys are Ben and his friend – my friends’ son.

 

I DARE YOU!

 

upload a video of you at the Brockett trailhead, giving your most dramatic reading of Brockett’s poem. If your reading of the poem is better than mine, I’ll send you a copy of my book.

 

http://youtu.be/FTq2J3bxLUw

Fossil Creek Road closed through Summer

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The Payson Roundup is reporting that the Forest Service intends to extend the ongoing closure of Fossil Creek Road (going west from Strawberry down across the creek). According to the article (and all quotes below are from this article):

The soaring popularity of the pristine, restored travertine-rich stream has drawn a flood of weekend visitors to Payson, but also resulted in piles of litter, illegal campfires and fears of stream pollution.

[…]

The order said the closure would “provide for the public’s health and safety because of the treacherous and unsafe road conditions resulting from geologic instability on rock walls resulting in frequent rock falls and slides into the road. Also, to provide for the public’s and employees’ health and safety considerations of traffic gridlock along the Fossil Creek Corridor.”

Important to note that the main trail to the upper part of the creek – and the springs – is still open.

The steep Fossil Creek Trail will remain open. But that could increase the already substantial number of summer rescues on the arduous, waterless climb out of the canyon. Many people will likely arrive to find the road closed and be tempted to hike down the trail in flip flops without adequate water, a recurrent theme in last year’s rescues.

Maybe they should read my guidebook. 

Payson and the other Rim communities are pissed:

“They’ve taken the sledge hammer to hit the pin on the wall,” said Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Manager John Stanton.

“What worries me is that this is coming out of (the Tonto National Forest headquarters) in Phoenix or Washington, D.C. and we have no control. Talk about a door slamming.”

To be fair, it’s a forest road going through the national forest. It would be unike the feds to ask permission, or even make a prompt decision.

This summer, the Forest Service projected that Fossil Creek would attract 60,000 visitors, making it a rival to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park as the region’s top tourist draw.

The Forest Service set up a special team to develop the master plan for future use of Fossil Creek, but hasn’t yet released the results of that effort.

[…]

[Stanton adds,] “Part of the problem in Fossil Creek is of our own making: People have destroyed the place. So now we have to figure out what to do. (The Chamber) has a retreat on Friday to see if there’s anything we can do — at least protest to the Payson Ranger District.”

Years ago, covering the restoration of Fossil Creek fr the now defunct Inside/Outside Magazine, I wrote:

The resurrection of Fossil Springs is a feat of human community as rare and amazing as a river in the desert. Optimists might say it is a new paradigm of things to come, while pessimists point out that, by weight of history, this is simply an aberration. I say dip your feet in the water while you can, because the state’s population growth accelerates while the budgets of agencies which manage the wilderness continue to shrink.

Like all streams in the wilderness, Fossil Creek is endangered by the very people who enjoy it the most. Unless we reverse our attitudes about beer cans and Styrofoam coolers and disposable diapers, a hundred years from now, another extraordinary coalition will be forced come together to restore the creek — again.

The Resurrection of Fossil Creek”  Inside/Outside, June 2007.

I was wrong, of course. We will destroy that place in well under 10 years, much less 100.

 

Parson Springs Trail

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

This weekend: starting to see snow around Flagstaff, and possibly as low as Sedona. A little nippy up there, but perfect hiking weather in the high desert.

Try Ballantine Trail – one of the best hikes from Day and Overnight Hikes: Tonto National Forest.

Now on to our behind-the-hike series on the new book, Five Star Trails in Flagstaff and Sedona

Parson Springs

HIKE DATE 6-13-2010

COMPANION: Ben

START TIME: 11:10A

END TIME: 4:15P

LISTED MILES: 8.4

ACTUAL MILES: 8.9

The second crossing on this hike is a popular local swimming hole.

The hike went smoothly except for the camera. I only have two vid clips because I realized the battery wouldn’t make it. Worse, there was some sort of snot-smear on the lens. I had no chance of seeing that on the LCD screen in broad daylight, so the lesson is clean the lens at the trailhead.

You can see the smear in the You Tube clip below, and even though we tried to finesse it out, you can see it in the book photo as well.

Ben and I actually went a little further up the canyon than the trail, just to check it out. Above the springs, its just a canyon full of rocks.

Link to You Tube video

Mescal Ridge

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Part of our ongoing series of behind-the-hike profiles.

NOT part of the 10-day run. We’ll get back to that.

Mescal Ridge Trail #186 is in the Hell’s Gate Wilderness. It is essentially a spur to the much longer Bear Flat Trail. If I ever get to revise this book, I’ll likely profile Bear Flat Trail instead.

DATE HIKED: 29 May 2008

COMPANIONS: None.

START TIME: 3pm

END TIME: 6:30pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 6.5 miles

If I had read my guidebook, I’d know to cross Tonto Creek right near the bridge and look for the wooden sign on the opposite bank. Since I didn’t, I bushwhacked along fishing trails on both sides of the bank before finally stumbling upon te trail at the top of that first ridge. Along the way, I lost my notebook. “A new standard of incompetence…” as I reported to my DVR.

If you find the notebook (it was in a plastic bag, and may yet be intact) – that’s worth a free book. My contact info is at the bottom of the About the Blogger page.

Once on the trail, it as an easy hike, ad I had space to embellish about Mescal cacti and the Pleasant Valley Wars. A correction: while Billy the Kid was involved in similar disputes in New Mexico, he was not part of the PV wars. That was all local boys.

The Tonto is perennial through here, and in good flow offers several fine swimming holes if’n yer not in the mood to hike.

Bear Flats “campground” has no fees, no services, and reliably fills to capacity every weekend with good weather.

Hell’s Gate

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Hell’s Gate Trail #37 leads in and out of one of the best swimming holes in the Tonto, at the bottom of the canyon where Tonto Creek flows in Haigler Creek. The approach from either direction is precariously steep, and the march out of Hell’s Gate is an infamous trial of endurance.

This was part 4 of the 10-day Run, where I took a week of vacation and just banged out as many hikes as I could just car-camping across the National Forest.

HIKE DATE: 14 June 2008

COMPANIONS: Rally Toad (a guy from Hike AZ), and Jayson.

START TIME: 9am

END TIME: 3:20pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 11.9 miles.

Another hike that got wiped from my DVR, and was reconstructed from notes and memory on the banks of Fossil Creek.

No photos either. Sorry. But if you’re a Hike AZ member you can see Rally Toad’s photos here.

Most people do this as an out and back from the Hell’s Gate Ridge (north) trailhead, and a lot of them spend the night. That half of the trail was fairly crowded (of course, it was a weekend), and I’m certain that all the campsites filled up at the bottom of the canyon. We had the southern half the the trail, going out south towards Smoky Hollow TH to ourselves.

The FS info on Smoky Hollow TH neglects to mention that any road there is unmaintained, and you need HC at least, and a 4WD if there’s any moisture in the dirt.

We were able to do this because Jayson, who is a 4WD enthusiast, agreed to pick us up there that afternoon. We beat him to the top by a couple of hours (he got lost), so while we were waiting under a juniper tree, a real-live cowboy came over the ridge with a horse, and a rifle, and four dogs. He offered us a ride (his pick-up truck sat a few miles up the road) if our friend didn’t show.

But Jayson made it. The note about the mislabelled forest road going up and around the ridge – that’s Good Advice from (his) Direct Experience.

Two bumpy hours from Smoky Hollow to Hell’s Gate TH, and that’s with a driver who’s fairly aggressive with his Xterra. Plan for longer if you fear death and such.

And so you know, the dining options in Young are slim. Rally Toad hopped off the bus at the TH, because he had to be back in civilization. We pushed on to a Mexican restaurant in Payson, where I was happy to pick up the tab.

Hell’s Hole

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

[Part of our ongoing series of Behind-the-Hike for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest]

Hell’s Hole Trail #284 is mostly within the Salome Wilderness. It is concurrent witht the longer but less famous Denton Trail for the first thrid of its travel from Reynold’s TH.

This was part 3 of the 10-day Run, where I took a week of vacation and just banged out as many hikes as I could just car-camping across the National Forest. Ben went with me for most of them, including this one.

This is one of only two destinations (Fossil Springs is the other one) in the Tonto NF that qualify for the Arizona 20/20 challenge – though I would take issue with their exclusion of Hell’s Gate.

DATE HIKED: 13 June 2008

COMPANIONS: Ben

START: 8:50am

FINISH: 5:15pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 12.4

First, yes, people live and work in those rickety buildings down by the creek.

The Denton Trail is on my list of trails to return to.

Our actual time on the trail was about 7 hours. What took us so long was about an hour of skinny-dipping (we had the canyon to ourselves) and then bushwhacking downstream until, we found a little waterfall that fed the main drainage. This was Ben’s first skinny dip as a voluntary participant. I know he went a few times as a toddler, but he doesn’t remember. Some troublesome footing in spots, but worth such trouble.

Remembered the can of oysters. Forgot the fork. Ate them with sticks while watching the water bugs try to sort things out after we had finally exited their ecosystem.

A lot of folks camp down there, but IMHO, you can adequately exlore the place in a day, and then face the switchbacks with a relatively lighter load.