Lower West Clear Creek -June 2004


We got up at 5:30 on Friday morning, eager to get moving since falling behind the plan last night. Fortunately, our plan had left room for such problems, and we were still confident we could complete the hike as planned.

We took the truck on down the road toward where the powerlines cross the canyon, finally parking it at 6:30. We grabbed our gear and followed the road the rest of the way to the trailhead, reaching the canyon edge at about 7:00am.

Entering West Clear Creek Canyon

Just past the camping area below where you enter West Clear Creek Canyon Some people say there's a trail that goes into West Clear Creek Canyon here. Others call it a "use trail". In reality, it's a drainage with some footprints in the parts that don't go straight down. We reached the campsite spot at the bottom (waypoint 13) about 7:30 after taking a couple of pictures on the way.

We managed to skip this early pool by using the log bridge We pressed on until 8:15 when we paused to put on our gators and fill up with water. Soon we came to the first of 3 pools. The first 2 were easily bypassed, the third required us to use a log bridge on the left side to avoid swimming.

Deep water

About 9:30, we reached the first pool (waypoint 18), the beginning of the series of pools where the creek cuts throught the white limestone, and made it through by wading on the right. 15 minutes later we stopped for some trail mix and to inflate our floats before entering the second pool, our first swim (waypoint 20). Here the light construction of my pool floats was proven when the airmatress died when it got a pinch tear while being attached to my pack. I broke out my pool "tire" spare and hoped I didn't have any more problems.

The second pool had a small waterfall at the head, which you can see in the background.The next pool had a small waterfall at the top, which required one of us to climb down and the other to pass the packs down.

The third pool was longer, and had an interesting feature where an eddy of the stream had carved into the south wall. We stopped to explore this, and found there was an underwater ledge on the wall.

Mike did some hanging around in the third pool. Mike decided to hang around in the third pool for a bit

The White box was the longest pool we swam the first day. After passing the third pool, we pressed on, soon reaching "White box", which is a long pool with vertical, white limestone walls. It's really in the middle of a series of 4 pools, several of which were waders, but some of which required swimming. We passed white box at 12:45 and stopped for lunch and to dry my gear that had gotten wet when I rolled my float. (Waypoint 21) I kept inflating/deflating my float because I was afraid I'd snag it and tear the thin sides.

This spring
on the south side of the canyon has created an incredible overhang. After lunch we hit another double pool, and then a bit farther were three more single pools. About 3:00 we reached the fern spring, and just after 3:30 we reached Meadow Canyon. (The entrance to Meadow canyon is rather hidden, Mike didn't notice it until I pointed it out. If you intend to use Meadow Canyon as a bailout point, you need to be paying very careful attention.)

At 4pm we stopped for a snack and for me to reinflate my float. At 4:45 we hit the next pool, which was a swim , followed by another swim and a wade. We reached the bend where the canyon turns back south (Waypoint 22/23) about 5:30 and stopped for the night. I'd gotten tired of inflating/deflating my float after the last stop, and kept inflated. As I'd feared, I soon snagged a hole in it. I applied the flimsy patch that came with it and hoped it would hold.