Back from the trip. First of all, no photos--my camera phone decided to erase everything I had out of the blue. A bit disappointing to say the least. As for the trip, we were forced to turn back after a couple of hours of hiking, as there is no water for at least the first 2 1/2-3 miles of the upper West Fork. We had planned on filtering water after our 2-Nalgene supply ran out, but after hiking in hot sun for some time, seeing not even a hint of water anywhere, I went ahead of my partner packless to check the situation further on. After about another 1/3-1/2 mile (with some serious boulder scrambling on the way), I saw no running water at all, but stopped at a stagnant pool in the boulders a couple meters wide and a foot deep, full of bugs and scum. I turned back from there, seeing no point in soaking my feet since I hadn't been wet at all, as it was looking like the trip would be aborted. Looking down the canyon a ways, there was no sign of any other water source. Clouds were building above, and we were running out of water, so I ran back to my partner, grabbed the bottles and pump, and ran again to the pool and filled them (that disgusting little slimehole tasted great, by the way--thank god for filters). On my way back to my partner, the skies opened up, and we took shelter above the creekbed under an overhang. We were soaked, and waited about 1/2 hour sipping whiskey and trying to dry off a bit. The rain did slow, but never quite stopped on the difficult hike back to the trailhead.
In summary, the upper West Fork from the FR 231 bridge trailhead to about 2 1/2-3 miles in is completely dry. I've never seen the lower West Fork dry in my life, so I'm not sure where this water is coming from. I was quite surprised by this, considering the amount of research I did, and all the talk of swimming. Does anybody have any insight into this? Where is the lower creek's water coming from? Does it dry up later in the season? I've never witnessed that. I hope we didn't turn back just short of some cascading spring gushing out of the cliffside. Although I doubt that's the case.
This trail (or lack thereof) from the upper end is very slow going, so account for that, as well. A disappointment in the end, but it was beautiful in there nonetheless. I'll try it again if I can get some more info.