Monday, October 19, 2015

Sedona and the Superstition Mountains, Arizona - Hiking

The primary reason for this trip to Arizona was to see one of Roger's favorite bands, Atl-J, perform in Phoenix on Wednesday night.  This meant the trip was a little more luxurious than previous trips to Arizona, with a hotel room instead of a tent, and some moderate day hikes when we weren't relaxing by the pool.  Our plan for Thursday was to head north to the tourist mecca of Sedona and hike one of the most popular hikes in the area, the West Fork of Oak Creek.

Sedona, AZ at sunset

Just north of Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

We though we might be able to avoid the crowds by hiking on a Thursday morning, but the small parking lot at the West Fork trail head was completely full when we arrived, with several cars ahead of us waiting for other cars to leave.  We considered hiking another trail, but the parking areas we passed along the way were packed with cars as well.  We decided to wait, and it wasn't long before enough people left for us to park and begin our hike.  I was anticipating tons of people crowding the trail, but groups were spaced enough to make the hike enjoyable.  The leaves were just beginning to change, but there were a few patches of brilliant color below the towering red and white cliffs.

Some foliage along the trail

West Fork of Oak Creek

West Fork of Oak Creek

Beautiful canyon scenery

The trail crossed the West Fork of Oak Creek several times, but it was easy to avoid wet feet by hopping from rock to rock.  We made it to the end of the official trail, about 3.5 miles from the trail head, where the canyon becomes tunnel like, similar to the Subway of Zion National Park.  We continued upstream for a while, walking through the river bed and patches of dense brush, before eventually turning around so that we could finish the hike before dark.

 End of the official trail

West Fork of Oak Creek tunnel section

Roger trudging through the mud

West Fork of Oak Creek

West Fork of Oak Creek

Roger avoiding wet feet

The weather was stormy on Friday, so we spent the day in the community of Cave Creek exploring some interesting shops and galleries.  Later that night, we met up with one of Roger's friends for dinner.  The weather was better on Saturday morning, so we headed east to the Superstition Mountains to hike near Canyon Lake.  The road to Canyon Lake passed Lost Dutchman State Park, bringing back memories of our snowy New Year adventure that we had there.  The scenery was spectacular as we drove to Canyon Lake Marina, and soon we were hiking on the Boulder Canyon Trail with great views of the reservoir below.

Canyon Lake from the Boulder Canyon Trail

View of the Weavers Needle

Roger on the Boulder Canyon Trail

Boulder Canyon Trail

The trail climbed steadily from the trail head to the highest point of the hike, eventually treating us to spectacular views of the Superstition Mountains, the Weavers Needle, and Battleship Mountain.  The trail  descended to the dry river bed of La Barge Canyon just before reaching the base of Battleship Mountain.

Boulder Canyon Trail

Descending into La Barge Canyon

Battleship Mountain

La Barge Canyon

We hiked up the dry river bed of La Barge Canyon for a bit before turning around as storm clouds began to build around us.  It looked like rain was heading our way, but we made it back to the trail head without getting wet.

La Barge Canyon

Potholes of water in La Barge Canyon

La Barge Canyon

Ocotillo leafing out from recent rains