With my current work schedule it has been hard to get out and do any big adventures. So in the mean time I have been jumping at any occasion that allows for a backpacking fix. Sara and I had two days off.....together and we loaded the Suby and headed North. I left the trip selection in Sara's court and she decided West Clear Creek. Although she had visited the area multiple times, it was a first for me. The hike we were doing was a 13.5 mile loop that we planned to split in half. A nice easy trip, with reliable water, and a relatively close drive from Phoenix. These stars don't normally align when planning trips in this part of the state.
The specific loop we were doing immediately began climbing out of the Bull Pen parking lot. In a little over 2.5 miles we found ourselves thousands of feet above and looking down on the Bull Pen area. The few was fantastic as the skies were clear. The clear skies did come with a fair amount of heat that was pushing the limits of Rocco's ability to keep cool, but he managed. After climbing steadily we arrived at the forrest road we planned to hike. This portion of the hike was uneventful except for nearly stepping on a snake that was crossing the road. The snake was a reminder that the warm weather was also bringing them out. We pushed on, stopping in the only available shade for a lunch break along the road.
After a nice cool down and with full stomaches we carried on down the road to next trailhead. Once arriving the trail immediately began descending a trail that sees little use. Baseball sized rocks were the norm as we picked our way down the canyon. Along the way our sunshine disappeared and a light sprinkling commenced. After a few minutes the sun reemerged, having us peel back our rain gear. Well one of us at least. See somehow in my packing I forgot the part about rain gear. Luckily I store my pack cover in the provided pocket, so my OutThere! AS-2 and it's contents stayed dry. Eventually we picked our way down the hill and began hiking above the creek bed. Hearing the sound of water was a reassuring remainder that camp was near. We indented on stopping at the first available campsite that had access to water. Unfortunately this happened later then intended.
Nearly to the creek, Sara began describing how last time she was here they saw a snake in the low brush we were walking through. Not even three steps after finishing that sentence I nearly step on another snake. Nearly identical in length and markings, this snake was more of a hazard. There was no way to get around the snake, so we backed away hoping it would continue on it's way. Eventually it moved off trail enough. I held a fallen branch between myself and the snake as we slinked past. This did not make the snake happy and he ended up hissing at us as we continued down the trail. A short while later we came across the first stream crossing. The water was cold, and the available campsite was occupied, so we pressed on. Two miles later we ended up and a beautiful campsite, with a private swimming hole. We took a chilly dip and then made camp. The day had been longer then expected and instead of the 7 miles, we ended up doing 11.25 miles. We joked about the fact that even our easy trips end up difficult, as we enjoyed a fire at our private oasis.
The following day we awoke after a solid 8 hours, under the stars. The weather was perfect, the birds were chirping and a babbling creek was footsteps away. Waking up was a reminder that not all trip have to be hard to be enjoyable. WE only had two miles to the car, as we wondered our way through the valley enjoying the last bits of our mini trip to West Clear Creek.
Trail information can be found here.