Sedona – Oak Creek Canyon, West Fork Trail (overnight)

Go Ultralight with an Evernveew Alcohol stove starting at $38.99

West Fork Trail – 6 miles to campsite, 12 miles total.

Let me just say that this is one of my favorite day hikes in Arizona..  It has a little bit of everything that Phoenix does not; water, trees, the beautiful red rocks of Sedona, etc.

True beauty in Sedona

True beauty in Sedona

I had recently purchased a new tent, sleeping bag, and stove in the hopes that I will hike the Appalachian Trail next March and needed an excuse to test them out.  So of course when I started thinking of overnight hikes, Oak Creek Canyon came up.  I called up my buddy Kris, found we had similar days off, and set off up to Sedona!

The morning of the hike, my friend/yoga instructor Astara texted me asking if I would like to go to Sedona with her and her friends (they were going for the day).  My 2 person party turned into a 6 person party.  Once in Sedona we set off on the trail, and what a beautiful day it was!

100_0450

Our group at one of the 13 creek crossings

We meandered through the beautiful foliage and canyons as a group of 6 for about an hour.  The day trippers had to turn back, but not before we relaxed and meditated by the stream for about 15 minutes.  100_0455  Suddenly we realized it was 4 pm, and we still had about 4-5 miles to go, so we broke from the group and trudged on!  100_0458

About an hour later, we reached the end of the ‘trail’, where the day trekkers turn back, the trail ends into water.

If you’re looking to continue the trail from here (it’s actually 14 miles total into a road on the back end) or just camping overnight.  You’re going to want some cheap water shoes, (link to water shoes on amazon) and a bathing suit.  Basically you’re going to get wet…

I personally use Aleader quick drying aqua water shoes.  

Womens pair also available here

For like $30 and under, you’re going to end up using them more than once.  Worth it.

Anyhow, wearing our bathing suits and water shoes, we made our own path.  100_0468  This was literally the most beautiful part of this hike!  I had never been this far, the trail seemed to snake in and out of the water, with the majority of the trail being just water in between 2 canyon walls.  If you have never ventured to this part of the trail, I highly recommend it (with a bathing suit and water shoes of course).  100_0472100_0474100_0475  The water was a little cold, but once you started moving in it, you got a little used to it.  With no special attention paid to the time, we were absolutely loving this trail!  So picturesque.  100_0491.  Then it hit us, the sun sets in Phoenix around 7:40 pm, the sun sets behind the canyons around… now.  It wasn’t getting dark yet, but it wasn’t getting any warmer or easier to see on the other hand..  We started trucking it.  Climbing under and over everything in our path when we found a spider, and another, and another.  We started looking around, we were surrounded by these things!  100_0498  Big mean hairy spiders.  Mmmm!  We started being a little more careful about hand and food placement.  At this specific log, we found about 5 different spiders all where we wanted to step.  Convenient.  We hopped over Brown Recluse Dam, and came to a part we had read about.  3-6 ft of water.  Off came the packs, off came the shirts, time to do some work!  100_0501100_0506  Soaking wet, tired, getting cold, and the sun setting on us, we agreed to stop taking pictures and just find camp.  Finally, at 6:30, well after the sun had set behind the canyon we found it!  Here it is.  100_0507100_0513  We quickly set up camp, ate dinner and broke out the whiskey.  We reminisced about our last camping trip (in the backwoods of Maine) a while back.We had (in Maine) forgot to put our food bag in the trees, left a bunch of empties out and went to bed.  We woke up to something that sounded like an animal with a megaphone sniffing at our tent at 4 am.  Held my breath for what seemed to be 30 minutes, got out of my tent when I felt it was safe, and realized whatever it was ate all our food for the morning.
So with this story fresh in our minds, we went to bed without setting up a food bag, in bear country.  Needless to say, neither of us slept.  5 am we made our first cup of coffee.  100_0517  It was cold.  100_0520  Very cold.  So we had another cup of coffee, and breakfast.  It was still windy and cold.  We realized that we had to get back into that water, chest deep, and at the beginning of our hike.  LAME.  We procrastinated as long as possible (til 6:45) and started the trek.  It wasn’t THAT bad, and it was even more beautiful than the day before!  100_0531.  The sun was hitting spots and illuminating them in the distance, while the brush around us stayed dark and quiet.  True beauty.  I realized as I was knee deep in that water, walking along, that at 7:30 am, there was no other place in this world I would rather be!  100_0535.  We hit the real trail by 8 am, and turned on the burners, making it to the car at 10 am, sweating profusely, muddy and smelling.  100_0536  We passed Sedona by and decided to have a beer and burger in Oak Creek at Blue Moon Cafe.  It was a nice little place with the biggest douche of a Scottsdale server ever.  (Do you even lift, bro?!).  Ate a Cali Cheeseburger, sweet potato fries, and got a huge slice of apple pie with vanilla ice cream after.  Maybe it was the night in the woods but this was the Catalina Wine Mixers of apple pie!  POW!  Put down a delicious Nut Brown Ale from Oak Creek Brewery while I was at it.

All in all, this has been one of my favorite camping trips, and for the true beauty, I would recommend would be hikers to pass the 3.3 miles and hit the creek!  And if I had to do it again, I would have brought more whiskey, to induce sleeping.  🙂

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