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West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ
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Andrew King
(drewboy) - F

Locale: Arizona
West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ on 07/23/2010 09:11:59 MDT Print View

I'm really starting to enjoy all the great trip reports here, and wanted to give back a little. We decided to do an impromptu semi-canyoneering weekend trip up the West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ. For those unfamiliar with this place, it is probably one of the most popular day hikes in Arizona. After around 3 miles the trail ends (along with the crowds) and the canyon itself extends for around 14 miles total. We hiked in 6-7 miles and set up camp on one of the ledges that can be found above the creek bed. For those who are interested in exploring a canyoneering type of adventure, this is a fantastic introduction. We did ultralight hammock camping on this trip. I already posted a version of this trip report on HF, but decided to post it here as well since there seems to be a lot more buzz and interest on hanging at BPL lately. I'm thinking that this community would be more interested in the specific lightweight gear aspects of this trip.

Here are some pictures and a dialog of this trip:

Near the trailhead the trail consists mostly of loose sand, and there are some remnants of older buildings that still stand.
Old building structures near the trailhead at WFOC

You very quickly enter the slot canyon and the walls seem to rise up before you.
Entering the slot canyon at WFOC

The trails ends at around 3 miles and it's stream walking and rock hopping from there onwards.
End of the trail at WFOC.

You'll wade through many narrow sections in this slot canyon.
Just another narrow slot in WFOC

More slots at WFOC

Many obstacles and problem solving required along the route. Wonder what that pointy rock is pointing at?
Obstacles along the way at WFOC

My favorite picture with the glassy creek reflecting the towering cliffs.
Beautiful scene along WFOC

The looming canyon walls ever present along the way. This is where we stopped to camp.
Looming canyon walls at WFOC

We scrambled up this face to find a ledge to camp on.
Ledge camp spot above the creek

Here's a Youtube video from the campsite vantage point.

Now a little talk about gear. Angelo and I both brought along our Warbonnet Traveler hammocks, that weight in at around ~15.5oz. Also shown is the Snowpeak umbrella, at ~4.7oz and is used for incidental rain protection as well as shade. We had our umbrellas mounted on the ridgeline to shade us while we took an afternoon siesta and enjoyed the luxury of margaritas poured from the platy bottle shown near the packs. Also notice the whoopie sling suspension we both used for our hammocks. It's a very lightweight and easy-to-adjust method for hanging your hammocks. Angelo had a Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack, and I brought along my favorite and trusted companion, the ULA Conduit circa 2007. We both had cuben tarps in case of rain, but never had to break them out. There is nothing like hanging under the open sky and gazing at the stars. I had an MLD cuben hammock tarp, and Angelo brought a custom Zpacks cuben tarp.
Relaxing in the Warbonnet Traveler hammock

My view from the hammock, facing the canyon wall on the other side of the creek.
View from hammock, looking across to the rock face at WFOC

A glimpse at more gear. We both utilized top quilts. Angelo has a custom one made by Te-wa, at ~19oz rated into the 20's and way overkill for these temps. My top quilt was a Golite Ultra20. At 19oz, not quite as warm as Angelo's but still way overkill for these temps (overnight low ~50 degrees). We were both experimenting with our new Insultex full length summer underquilts. This is currently the rage at HF, and provides a lot of warmth for ~8oz. We are getting ready to heat coffee and cook breakfast on our Caldera Cone Tri-ti stoves.
Angelo's gear setup at WFOC

One more Youtube video taken on the hike back out. Don't know why my camera made those annoying audio pops and clicks.

It was a really fun and memorable weekend trip, one that I will repeat very soon. Next time we'll probably through-hike it from the top.

Edited by drewboy on 07/26/2010 18:11:23 MDT.

Jeff Moody
(BigTiki) - F
Re: West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ on 07/30/2010 00:53:52 MDT Print View

Who made your Insultex UQ?

Andrew King
(drewboy) - F

Locale: Arizona
Re: Re: West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ on 07/30/2010 06:20:39 MDT Print View

I purchased the IX underquilt from Molly Mac Gear, a small cottage vendor that frequents the Hammock Forums.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ" on 07/30/2010 09:07:48 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing your trip Andrew, beautiful canyon country over there. I'll have to plan a trip for Sedona in the late fall.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
West Fork of Oak Creek on 07/30/2010 09:30:28 MDT Print View

Great pics. If you can ever swing it, I highly, highly recommend doing the entire canyon from top to bottom. That requires a shuttle or two cars, but it's definitely worth it. The upper section is remote and feels a bit wild because few day hikers make it up there. Depending on how much water has been flowing the previous winter/spring, you'll probably have a few sections to swim, but that's great fun, too.

Kris Sherwood
(Tuskadero) - F

Locale: Washington State
Re: West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ on 07/30/2010 12:10:23 MDT Print View

Andrew, thanks for the report. This looks really nice. I am visiting a buddy in PHX in October and we would like to do a trip like this. If you dont mind, can I ask you a couple questions?

1 - is there a water source all along the trail or do you need to do any long dry sections or water cache's?

2 - is this a trip that can be done in Oct/Nov? or do river levels dictate this to be a summer hike only?


Nate Belcher
(desert_dawg) - F

Locale: Southwest Arizona
Re: West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ on 07/30/2010 13:56:04 MDT Print View

Great report Andrew, I live about an hour from Sedona and definitely will check this out. My friend did it a couple weeks ago but only went in about 4 miles. Question, does the canyon descend the further you get in or is it relatively little elevation change? Also, how do you like the 'hanging' over 'tenting'. I've been wanting to try this but concerned with the lack of trees (other than the thin trunked palo verdes) to invest in a hammock. Recommended for desert hiking or just for Sedona and north?

Thanks, DD

Edited by desert_dawg on 07/30/2010 14:04:50 MDT.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
nice on 07/30/2010 14:35:22 MDT Print View

Nice trip report and beautiful pictures. I hiked that area years ago, in February, the day after a flash flood went through . Your pictures make me want to go back. Thanks for posting.

Andrew King
(drewboy) - F

Locale: Arizona
Re: Re: West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ on 07/30/2010 15:33:34 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments folks.

@Kris: You should have dependable water pretty much the entire time. Oct is probably one of the most popular times to do this hike with the fall colors. Oct/Nov are both doable, you might find the water is getting a little cold by then. The water levels should be fine. If you decide to through hike or hike up to the upper canyon, there will be places where you'll need to do some short swims. There was no swimming required on the out-and-back hike we did.

@Nate: The rate of elevation change is very moderate and virtually unnoticeable. I love hammocking and do it constantly throughout Arizona, including places like the Superstition Wilderness near Phoenix, where I live. I go to ground once in a while where no trees can be found at all, but any more I find this to be pretty rare. It's usually possible to plan your trips to find hanging spots. Some people get pretty creative and hang from rock faces or some combination thereof. I do love the unique opportunities that hanging creates for campsite selection, such as shown below from a Superstition Wilderness backpack trip earlier in the year.

Hammock camp at Fish Creek in the Superstition WIlderness

Edited by drewboy on 08/02/2010 12:12:14 MDT.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ on 07/30/2010 22:38:05 MDT Print View

Andy & Angelo,
That looks like a great trip! After that trip with you folks to the Superstitions near Phoenix in April, I'm jealous that I missed this one.

I have to say that these guys squeeze every bit of fun out of their part of the country. I have followed BPL since ~2001, and was impressed with their knowledge of hammock camping (which works really well for hot AZ), and the advancements that have happened in that area. Glad to see that there is interest in getting a hammock section going.


P.S. I recall how much Angelo can consume during a little stroll in the country.

Andrew King
(drewboy) - F

Locale: Arizona
Re: Re: West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, AZ on 07/30/2010 23:13:18 MDT Print View

Hey Tom! Good to hear from you man. We do need to start working on a repeat trip sometime soon. We've gone on a few trips lately in the AZ high country through lush green pine forests, which I'll need to post at some point to balance out all of our desert adventures. And boy, you're not kidding about Angelo. You should have seen the 3-course Italian feast he whipped up on our backpack trip last weekend. That is one eating and hiking machine ;)

I'm also glad to see the piqued interest in more focused hammock discussions here. Some hangers are really starting to push the weight envelope and people on this forum could make some great contributions.