What a great day for a hike!
On a recent Trailblazers’ camping trip up to Oak Creek Canyon, rain
had deterred the hikers from enjoying the West Fork hike. So twelve
Trailblazers decided to try again. The group included Barry, Anne,
Doug, Rusty, Chuck, Rudy, Stan, Michael, Sheila, hike leader Debbie, and
newcomers Andy, Pat, and Chandra.
Desert varnish paints the towering cliffs above Oak Creek.
Rudy goes tree-hopping.
Anne and Barry doing the West Fork Rock-Hop.
Rumor has it that there is limited parking at the West Fork Trailhead, so to
ensure adequate parking, the twelve hikers made a speedy departure, leaving
the Valley promptly at 7:15 AM.
The hike leader was ruthless about keeping to the schedule and instructed
the drivers: “no pit stops, even for the coffee drinkers.”
We made excellent time and arrived at the trailhead before 9:00 AM only to
discover that we were the first ones in the parking lot.
Still this gave us a wide choice of parking spots and the benefit
of no lines at the restrooms. After pausing for the customary group picture,
the group set off to enjoy the hike.
It promised to be a beautiful day. We crossed over the bridge spanning Oak
Creek, stopped to check out the remains of an old dwelling, then continued
hiking amongst the most breathtaking scenery. The trees were still shedding
their leaves, temperatures were brisk, and we had the trail virtually to
ourselves at the start of the hike.
West Fork is one of the most popular trails in northern Arizona
and the trail would fill up by the time we hiked out.
The trail follows Oak Creek, crossing over the creek numerous times, so we
had the opportunity to brush up on our rock hopping skills.
Each hiker had his or her own method. Anne looked a bit doubtful at first, but
once she got the hang of it, seemed to become quite the expert at creek crossing.
The Trailblazers are definitely an experienced group — everyone looked
out for one another and no one fell in!
Words cannot do justice to the magnificant beauty surrounding this area. The
hike offers some of the most spectacular views of Sedona’s famous red rock.
The layered formations of the cliff walls, the towering peaks, the lush
vegetation, and of course, the creek make this hike a must.
Many of the trees had already begun shedding their leaves resulting in the
nostalgic experience of walking through a carpet of rustling leaves.
The sun streaming through the remaining leaves cast a golden aura around
a lone hiker as he balanced precariously on a fallen tree.
End of the hike, or go wading?
Relaxing on the overhang above the creek.
We took our time hiking the 3¼ miles to where the canyon walls close in
to meet the creek on both sides. We lunched here, then decided to find a
warmer spot to sit and enjoy the views.
We found a flat ledge overlooking the creek and at this point, our early
morning departure was catching up to some of us. The group stopped here so
the hike leader could take a short nap in the sun.
Hike leader asleep on the job.
Once rejuvenated, we headed back the way we had come. The trail had become
quite crowded by this time, but that speaks to the beauty of the area.
We made it back to the trailhead about 2:30. Everyone agreed that the day
had been most enjoyable.
Several hikers had evening plans and so they left
promptly to return to the valley.
Sedona, in your dreams.
The rest of the group stopped at a coffee shop in Sedona (the same one some of
us had sought shelter at from the rain a few weeks prior), then decided to check
out the “Hogs in Heat” barbeque in Rock Springs on the way home.
At that point, it was agreed that “what happens in Rock Springs, stays in
Rock Springs” so this concludes the trip report.
Photos courtesy of Andy Ellarby and Doug East.