Lower West Clear Creek -June 2004

The Planned Hike

Since bailing out on our first attempt at Lower West Clear Creek, Mike and I had been planning on going back to finish this hike. This time we made sure we had three days to hike it in, and took bigger pack floats. However, true to form, this hike quickly wreaked havoc on our plans.

The Plan

We learned from our mistakes on our first attempt, and took a full day of vacation so we had 3 full days plus a bit to do this hike. We also got much larger floats for our packs. Mike got a larger innertube, I packed 2 pool floats. --one as a backup. We headed out early Thursday afternoon, intending to leave Mike's car at Bull Pen Ranch Campground and take my truck upstream and drop into the canyon that evening. This would leave us Friday, Saturday and Sunday to do the hike.

Reality strikes again

We made it to Bull Pen Ranch without incident, then while Mike was moving gear from his vehicle to mine, he realized the person who had borrowed his tent had not put the poles back in. This wasn't a major problem as the weather was forecast to be clear all weekend -- despite the beginning of monsoon season in AZ. A more serious problem arrived when my truck's battery fell victim to two summers in AZ and died. We were forced to head back to Camp Verde and eventually Cottonwood to get a new battery. This quickly took over 3 hours of our schedule. We got a new batter, stopped for dinner, took Mike's SUV back to Bull Pen Ranch, and tried to find the top of our hike in the dark. The plan for being 1+ hour down the canyon that night was toast. We found the turnoff from 260 to FR144 in the dark, but as the roads got rougher we decided to wait until morning when we could see. We crashed by the truck around 9:30.


I'm typing this in October, four months after the hike, so some things have gotten fuzzy. Between my notes I took during the hike, the GPS log and Mike checking me, things should be pretty accurrate. However, there are likely to be a few errors, especially on the later sections. I've tried to put in as many details, landmarks, etc as possible along with when we passed them. There are a lot of easily identifiable features on this hike, and why nobody else seems to have bothered to note them puzzles me. Hopefully, including them will not only help others know where they are in the canyon, but how they are doing on time.
When I talk about wading through a pool, I'm not talking about getting your feet wet. I'm talking about places where you're at least picking your pack up (and often holding it on top of your head) to keep it from getting wet. Swims are just that-- you've got your pack on a float and your feet can't touch the bottom. A Teabag is where your pack might get wet if you make a bad step or don't hold it up, probably waist deep water.