Lower West Clear Creek -June 2004

Jason's notes

This is a really cool hike, but real difficult. I was in much better shape for this hike than I was when we did the Escalante Route in the Grand Canyon. I was tired and stiff Friday night, but not really hurting.

I can't believe that I didn't have a map of the canyon with me. I'm a map and compass nut, so this was really strange. We had this attitude that we'd done this before, and that this time it'd be easy. This hike is never going to be easy.

Last time, the tires we brought for floats were too small and let the pack get wet, making it heavy and slowing us down. That was a big part of the reason I went with the pool float-- the large size would keep my pack dry. (as long as I didn't flip it over, which I did several times) The problem is that the pool toys are not durable enough, and inflating/deflating it for every pool takes a long time. Mike's larger tire was more durable and the patches were better. (although he had problems with the valve, and had to insert/remove the stem core to inflate/deflate the float). Initially his pack would sag enough in the middle of the float to get wet. He solved this by sliding his hiking stick between the pack and float.

One thing I didn't like about Kelsey's book was that he didn't really say whether the pools he marked on the map were swims or wades. I believe the marks were the swims, and reasonably accurately marked.

Despite rolling my raft two or three times, I didn't have any real problems with my gear getting wet. I had gotten several dry bags for this trip. I kept my sleeping bags, clothes, and food in these bags. They won't stand up to significant immersion, but worked great for this trip. When I did flip my pack water got in, seeping into things like my poncho and the dead airmattress. I took time to dry this out to keep the pack lighter. My core gear wass fine.

This hike is hard on your gear too. The list of gear we've killed on the two attempts at this hike includes: 1 camera, 2 innertubes, an air mattress, another float, a destroyed pair of sneakers (mine on the second trip. The entire sole came off one shoe). Even Mike's larger, heavier tire for a float on the second attempt got punctured. If you get in trouble because your gear broke, you have nowhere to go. Don't skimp.