Seeking another hike in cooler country we were up early again for the long drive north of Strawberry. Although the forecast called for T-storms coming in after 11 am, having survived the last two hikes with the same forecast and only getting wet once we figured we'd chance it. As it turned out for the second week in a row, the rain held off until late afternoon and stayed long enough to wash most of the mud off the car again.
This time instead of hiking down from north of West Clear Creek the plan was coming in from the south. Since there weren't any GPS tracks of the drive to the trail head on HAZ I read the directions at the bottom. But when I compared them to my mapping software, it seemed like it would be taking the long way in so I drew my own route more directly from AZ 260 instead of 87. It was quickly obvious that the map I had was so old most of the route no longer existed, but with enough winding back and forth on any number of marked roads we eventually made it, albeit at a pace of about 5 mph. Looking at the directions again now, the only road we saw marked as in the directions was FR 142, and that only on our trip back out. On the way in we saw 9267K, 9364R, 9402E, & 9267C among others. But by taking the long and windy road we got a chance to take in more of the scenery. It was a quite challenging, especially on the very tight corners due to the length of the Pathfinder, which made us wish we had taken the Samurai instead. Still, we made it without incident.
Now to the hike: Yes, the tightly-rolled diaper is still at the trail head. One quick glance at the fallen down trail log box and we hit the trail. Immediately the trail drops steeply down into the canyon, and shortly thereafter the knees were feeling the strain of trying to keep from falling forward every step of the way. Eventually I stopped thinking about it and the rest of the drop went quickly. Once at the bottom we were greeted by a lush green area along West Clear Creek. We attempted to go upstream along the south bank but were stopped within a few hundred feet. Next we crossed the creek and began workng our way upstream again but with the brush so heavy we figured let's try going downstream. We only went a short distance on the north bank before we came across a small group of petroglyphs. Looking around at the terrain we figured there may be more of them nearby, but again the going was a bit rough so we crossed back to the south bank and continued on downstream. We had to cross the creek numerous times to continue our trek downstream, but were able to continue for quite some distance, enough to encounter another group of petroglyphs. While there were more, most were very faint, and if it weren't for the sun shining across to highlight the uneven rock we may not have noticed them. But since we did, we took quite a few photos.
Then right next to the petroglyphs was a drop of maybe 12-15 feet off a big boulder. At a quick glance it didn't look to be easily traversed so I dug in my pack for a rope, tied it to a tiny bush that seemed like it would hold enough to provide just the right amount of help on the return climb. But Tracey wasn't too enthused about dropping down
and possibly not making it back up so I went back to the edge to take a closer look. (drum roll please...)
Unfortunately having spent so much time photographing the petroglyphs I didn't realize the top of my camera case on my chest was still unzipped.... so, you guessed it, as I leaned way over for a closer look, the camera falls out,
drops hard onto the flat rock below
and bounces right into the creek.
I didn't waste a second dropping down the boulder with no concern of climbing back up, ran over to retrieve the camera even as it bubbled the air out. I knew by then the camera was junk but I figured the SDHC card would still be good. Thankfully the card was so I didn't lose the petroglyph shots, but the camera had landed on the corner of the on-off switch and pretty much hammered it into the body, rendering it worthless. Rats! My new video camera lasted all of three uses before it failed and I returned it, and now my most trusted Canon S3iS camera bit the dust... ok, bit a rock then drowned.
Now that I was down from the boulder and was able to clamber back up without the rope, it was time to continue on. About that time we saw heavier clouds beginning to build so planned on continuing up to a large Sycamore tree on the north shore before turning back. The rest of the return trip Tracey took the lead with my slightly newer but well-beaten, refurb Canon S5iS complete with chipped lens. I had quit using it because it was bigger and heavier than the S3 but it looks like it will get more use again because it seems all the new through-the-lens viewfinder cameras are even larger yet... and way more expensive. Looks like my new tiny GoPro HeroHD will get more use and I'll be taking more video instead of photos.
I posted the 'best' 15 photos on HAZ with the full set of 60 photos here:
Composite video of hike highlights is here:
In short, another great hike in a beautiful area... just make sure take extra time wandering downstream to catch the petroglyphs.