Woohoo! Finally was able to complete this amAZingly remote & rugged canyon loop in the Sierra Anchas.
On Saturday afternoon, we started from the Reynolds TH and made our way northwest along the McFadden trail and old ranching roads to upper Park Creek Canyon. We slowly rock hopped our way down canyon and eventually hit some drops in middle Park Canyon. The first drop we bypassed on the right but the next we harnessed up and made a 40ft rappel from a tree on the leftside. As the sun was slowly setting, we found a flat section of red rock along the creek to setup our meager camp for the night. With minimal gear, I slept the night on a groundcover, my wetsuit as a bed pad, a blowup pillow, and a small summer bag that fits in my canyon dry keg. It was a warm day, but it still got rather cold at night and I was shivering fairly good the last few hours before sunrise.
We built a fire the next morning to quickly warm us back up before hitting the canyon again bright & early at 7am... We passed some cool slickrock sections before hitting another 40ft rappel at a falls but we were still able to stay dry. Further down canyon, a hallway section is encountered but with some climbing skills we were still able to stay dry.
Eventually we reached lower Park Canyon as it narrows up and drops quickly to Upper Salome Canyon with a quick two drops. We suited up, navigated thru some pools, and I volunteered to rappel 60ft down a chute into a deep punchbowl with a cool arch above it.
The pool was plenty deep, so I yelled back to my partners and told them it was deep enough for them to waterslide it and they both were crazy enough to slide it.
From this pool, there was an opening to rappel another 50ft waterfall down into a boulder field and finally reach the confluence...
So this is known as an Upper Salome Loop, but in reality we only hike about a mile in this canyon but it's all about hitting the amAZing Grotto Pool.
We slowly rock hopped our way down canyon until it finally narrowed up into some of the sweetest narrows I've seen in central AZ. Falls after falls and pool after pool until we reach the magnificent Grotto Pool that was featured in AZ highways way back in August of 2001. We both jumped and slide into it and it was such a sweet warm pool to swim and briefly hang at before unfortunately having to move on. The narrows were only half over and the falls & slide just got bigger. On the first one, I performed my first simal-rappel as we counter weighted ourself around a mound of rock into the pool below, swam below a boulder bridge, and out of the long pool on the farside. Some down climbing and we reached the final 30ft falls that was rocking with water flow into another pool.
Another jump into another pool and another slide into a final pool and we reached our exit canyon up lower Workman Creek. We dropped the wet gear and made our way out of paradise and towards Hell's Hole.
There's a 45ft falls down there required us to bushwhack up a chute on the leftside LUC and traverse above the creek to get passed the falls. After a mile or so of rock hopping and walking a side trail above Hell's Hole, I started to take what I though was the trail up and out of the canyon. Turns out that while I was very close to the trail, it was actually one more ridge over to the east as we slowly made our own bushwhacking route up game trails & clearings.
After much energy expended and frustrations, the trail crossed back above us and we found ourselves on a great trail and only a half hour until sunset with about 5 trail miles left to hike out.
Thankfully we made great time on the trail and arrived back at the TH around 8pm to finish up my longest canyon trip yet to date.