Jul 23, 2010 at 8:11 am #1261499
I'm really starting to enjoy all the great trip reports here, and wanted to give back a little. We decided to do an impromptu semi-canyoneering weekend trip up the West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ. For those unfamiliar with this place, it is probably one of the most popular day hikes in Arizona. After around 3 miles the trail ends (along with the crowds) and the canyon itself extends for around 14 miles total. We hiked in 6-7 miles and set up camp on one of the ledges that can be found above the creek bed. For those who are interested in exploring a canyoneering type of adventure, this is a fantastic introduction. We did ultralight hammock camping on this trip. I already posted a version of this trip report on HF, but decided to post it here as well since there seems to be a lot more buzz and interest on hanging at BPL lately. I'm thinking that this community would be more interested in the specific lightweight gear aspects of this trip.
Here are some pictures and a dialog of this trip:
Near the trailhead the trail consists mostly of loose sand, and there are some remnants of older buildings that still stand.
You very quickly enter the slot canyon and the walls seem to rise up before you.
The trails ends at around 3 miles and it's stream walking and rock hopping from there onwards.
You'll wade through many narrow sections in this slot canyon.
Many obstacles and problem solving required along the route. Wonder what that pointy rock is pointing at?
My favorite picture with the glassy creek reflecting the towering cliffs.
The looming canyon walls ever present along the way. This is where we stopped to camp.
We scrambled up this face to find a ledge to camp on.
Here's a Youtube video from the campsite vantage point.
Now a little talk about gear. Angelo and I both brought along our Warbonnet Traveler hammocks, that weight in at around ~15.5oz. Also shown is the Snowpeak umbrella, at ~4.7oz and is used for incidental rain protection as well as shade. We had our umbrellas mounted on the ridgeline to shade us while we took an afternoon siesta and enjoyed the luxury of margaritas poured from the platy bottle shown near the packs. Also notice the whoopie sling suspension we both used for our hammocks. It's a very lightweight and easy-to-adjust method for hanging your hammocks. Angelo had a Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack, and I brought along my favorite and trusted companion, the ULA Conduit circa 2007. We both had cuben tarps in case of rain, but never had to break them out. There is nothing like hanging under the open sky and gazing at the stars. I had an MLD cuben hammock tarp, and Angelo brought a custom Zpacks cuben tarp.
My view from the hammock, facing the canyon wall on the other side of the creek.
A glimpse at more gear. We both utilized top quilts. Angelo has a custom one made by Te-wa, at ~19oz rated into the 20's and way overkill for these temps. My top quilt was a Golite Ultra20. At 19oz, not quite as warm as Angelo's but still way overkill for these temps (overnight low ~50 degrees). We were both experimenting with our new Insultex full length summer underquilts. This is currently the rage at HF, and provides a lot of warmth for ~8oz. We are getting ready to heat coffee and cook breakfast on our Caldera Cone Tri-ti stoves.
One more Youtube video taken on the hike back out. Don't know why my camera made those annoying audio pops and clicks.
It was a really fun and memorable weekend trip, one that I will repeat very soon. Next time we'll probably through-hike it from the top.Jul 29, 2010 at 11:53 pm #1633414
Who made your Insultex UQ?Jul 30, 2010 at 5:20 am #1633433
I purchased the IX underquilt from Molly Mac Gear, a small cottage vendor that frequents the Hammock Forums.Jul 30, 2010 at 8:07 am #1633453
Eugene SmithBPL Member
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
Thanks for sharing your trip Andrew, beautiful canyon country over there. I'll have to plan a trip for Sedona in the late fall.Jul 30, 2010 at 8:30 am #1633459
@sschloss1Locale: New England
Great pics. If you can ever swing it, I highly, highly recommend doing the entire canyon from top to bottom. That requires a shuttle or two cars, but it's definitely worth it. The upper section is remote and feels a bit wild because few day hikers make it up there. Depending on how much water has been flowing the previous winter/spring, you'll probably have a few sections to swim, but that's great fun, too.Jul 30, 2010 at 11:10 am #1633480
Kris SherwoodBPL Member
@tuskaderoLocale: Washington State
Andrew, thanks for the report. This looks really nice. I am visiting a buddy in PHX in October and we would like to do a trip like this. If you dont mind, can I ask you a couple questions?
1 – is there a water source all along the trail or do you need to do any long dry sections or water cache's?
2 – is this a trip that can be done in Oct/Nov? or do river levels dictate this to be a summer hike only?
KrisJul 30, 2010 at 12:56 pm #1633507
@desert_dawgLocale: Southwest Arizona
Great report Andrew, I live about an hour from Sedona and definitely will check this out. My friend did it a couple weeks ago but only went in about 4 miles. Question, does the canyon descend the further you get in or is it relatively little elevation change? Also, how do you like the 'hanging' over 'tenting'. I've been wanting to try this but concerned with the lack of trees (other than the thin trunked palo verdes) to invest in a hammock. Recommended for desert hiking or just for Sedona and north?
Thanks, DDJul 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm #1633523
Katharina LångstrumpBPL Member
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
Nice trip report and beautiful pictures. I hiked that area years ago, in February, the day after a flash flood went through . Your pictures make me want to go back. Thanks for posting.Jul 30, 2010 at 2:33 pm #1633546
Thanks for the comments folks.
@kris: You should have dependable water pretty much the entire time. Oct is probably one of the most popular times to do this hike with the fall colors. Oct/Nov are both doable, you might find the water is getting a little cold by then. The water levels should be fine. If you decide to through hike or hike up to the upper canyon, there will be places where you'll need to do some short swims. There was no swimming required on the out-and-back hike we did.
@nate: The rate of elevation change is very moderate and virtually unnoticeable. I love hammocking and do it constantly throughout Arizona, including places like the Superstition Wilderness near Phoenix, where I live. I go to ground once in a while where no trees can be found at all, but any more I find this to be pretty rare. It's usually possible to plan your trips to find hanging spots. Some people get pretty creative and hang from rock faces or some combination thereof. I do love the unique opportunities that hanging creates for campsite selection, such as shown below from a Superstition Wilderness backpack trip earlier in the year.Jul 30, 2010 at 9:38 pm #1633644
Tom ClarkBPL Member
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
Andy & Angelo,
That looks like a great trip! After that trip with you folks to the Superstitions near Phoenix in April, I'm jealous that I missed this one.
I have to say that these guys squeeze every bit of fun out of their part of the country. I have followed BPL since ~2001, and was impressed with their knowledge of hammock camping (which works really well for hot AZ), and the advancements that have happened in that area. Glad to see that there is interest in getting a hammock section going.
P.S. I recall how much Angelo can consume during a little stroll in the country.Jul 30, 2010 at 10:13 pm #1633649
Hey Tom! Good to hear from you man. We do need to start working on a repeat trip sometime soon. We've gone on a few trips lately in the AZ high country through lush green pine forests, which I'll need to post at some point to balance out all of our desert adventures. And boy, you're not kidding about Angelo. You should have seen the 3-course Italian feast he whipped up on our backpack trip last weekend. That is one eating and hiking machine ;)
I'm also glad to see the piqued interest in more focused hammock discussions here. Some hangers are really starting to push the weight envelope and people on this forum could make some great contributions.
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