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Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek, AZ

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Guide 37 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well W
Rated
4.4
4.4 of 5 by 8
 
8
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Canyoneering
Consensus
View 9
Grade3
WaterB
Risk
TimeII
Statistics
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,555 feet
Elevation Gain -600 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
8  2019-07-20 Mjbirdno
2  2016-04-10 CoryTallman
23  2015-09-13 outdoor_lover
29  2015-06-28 CoryTallman
16  2015-06-27 GrottoGirl
23  2015-06-19 outdoor_lover
47  2014-07-06 GrottoGirl
43  2013-07-07 GrottoGirl
Page 1,  2,  3
Author PhilipMueller
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 5
Photos 926
Trips 53 map ( 310 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Jul, Aug → Early
Seasons   Summer to Summer
Sun  6:09am - 6:33pm
Official Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Icebreaker
by PhilipMueller

The titanium lined, 7 mm thick sleeve of Mike's wetsuit split open like parchment paper as he intently slammed his arm down on 3/4 inch thick sheets of ice to clear a swimming path for our group of five through the frigid waters at the dark bottom of the snow and ice covered walls of the slot canyon. Blood flowed out of Michael's arm from ice lacerations. Jason, who didn't bring a wetsuit, shivered as he brooded having to get back in the water again. Philip could no longer feel the tips of his frostbitten fingers. Mitch secured our rope in his pack since the depths of the black waters had just consumed our rope bag. Welcome to Bear Canyon in April!


The hike began at the end of FR 142E. From the parking area (6,600ft), we strolled back up the road about 20 minutes and then turned W into the woods where we descended quickly into a leaf covered wash. There was no trail. We continued on a NW route back up, out of this wash. There were several use paths--whether animal or human is unknown--that we crossed in this area. Within a few minutes we were on a FR heading N toward West Clear Creek. The wash from which we came was to our E and another narrower wash shortly appeared to our W. We descended into this wash, which led us into Bear Canyon. There were a few areas where other washes entered this wash, but it was easy navigation: head downhill. From the parking area, it took us about 1 hour at a moderate pace to really get into Bear Canyon. We had hiked about 1 mile.

The canyon floor became rockier and then the walls slotted up around us. There were some pools here and there. Some could be avoided, others were about knee deep at the most and we could easily walk through them. Within about 30 minutes, we came upon back to back drops, approximately 40 feet each, both of which could be skirted to the right with no gear and no problem. After the second drop, we quickly came upon the First Obstacle. The First Obstacle involved a go-cart sized boulder that was wedged between the canyon walls. Just before the boulder was a human size hole. There was about a 20 ft drop down that hole to continue on with the hike, which at this point turned into technical canyoneering.

We chose to secure our webbing to a boulder about 5 ft up the canyon from the wedged boulder. From there, we rappelled down the human size hole under the wedged boulder. Soon, we reached a small opening in the canyon where we could put on our wetsuits in preparation for deep water ahead. Foreboding patches of snow and formations of ice surrounded us.

With our wetsuits and harnesses on we swam through frigid water to the next obstacle which waited at the end of a long, deep pool. Philip was on point at this stretch, and he peered over the 1 foot lip of the pool down a 30 ft waterfall: the Second Obstacle. He climbed over to a small, one person ledge on the right where there was a well secured bolt. Mitch held onto the lip and fed the rope to Philip. (Note: don't put your rope bag on the lip. It's temptingly convenient, but if it falls, and there's a good chance it would there, you're done.). Philip crouched on the ledge to feed the rope through the bolt. It was difficult as his body shivered and his hands trembled from the biting swim to this point. The rappel itself was easy enough, but the landing spot was another pool, and it was too deep to stand. There was very little current, but bone chilling black waters and frozen hands made the prospect of a floating disconnect undesirable. Mitch shouted down for Philip to let out slack and swim for shallower water. Fortunately, we had 100 ft rope, so we had plenty of slack. Philip swam to a small lip that divided this pool from the next and got off rope. The rest of the group used the same technique.

From the lip, Philip, who was still on point, jumped into the next pool. He could see a small widening of the canyon and a shaft of precious, warming sunlight. Soon, he was locked in the pool by a 1/2 inch thick sheet of ice... not thick enough to climb onto but thick enough to require quite a bit of energy to smash as he swam. Soon he could stand, and he bolted toward the light for a thaw. As Philip stood in the light, bare skinned Jason, who had yet to make the second rappel and the swim thereafter desperately shouted through the canyon walls to ask if Philip had found sunlight. Affirmative. For Jason, warming up would be even more crucial than for the rest of us. Jason then ominously asked, "is there more water?"

We thawed in this spot for about 20 minutes, and then it was time to move on into the narrow darkness, once again. Shortly, we came upon the Third (and final) Obstacle. The Third Obstacle entailed a 15 ft rappel from a chokestone into yet another pool! Secure webbing on the stone was already in place so after careful inspection, we used it. After that, Jason took point and skillfully avoided water. In on instance, he was able to use his hands on one side of the canyon and feet on the other side as pressure points to crawl like Spiderman perpendicular to the canyon walls and parallel with and over the water. Mitch, eager to avoid the water, too, attempted the same technique. Unfortunately, at this point, the canyon walls were wet from Jason's journey. Mitch's feet slipped out from underneath him, and he plummeted 6 feet into the narrow pool below. Mike made the same attempt and met the same fate. Fortunately in both cases, their heads missed the narrow canyon walls and neither was injured. Seeing this, Michael and Philip just opted to swim. Brrr!

Jason's impressive water avoidance victory was short lived, however, as we came upon another large pool. This time, even Spiderman could not climb around or over it. Time to get wet. Mike went first. This is where he came upon the 3/4 inch thick ice sheet and split his suit. Fortunately for all of us, this was the last of the swimming pools, and the canyon opened up some in space and light, again. As we rested and warmed for a while, the first of another canyoneering group emerged from the ice pool we had so nicely cleared for them. She was wearing a drysuit and drygloves. In fact, when we later saw their entire group, they all had drysuits. Really, drysuits and drygloves were what were needed in Bear Canyon this time of year.

Not yet knowing that the swimming was completely behind us, we left our wetsuits on as we hiked onward. When we felt "safe", we changed. We did a bit of rock hopping and saw a few cool drop-offs, which we scrambled around to the left. Before we knew it we were in West Clear Creek, which lived up to its name. The water was fairly deep at the juncture of Bear Canyon and the Creek, but we were able to skirt it along the N bank. We hiked for about 20 minutes to a large pile of washed up trunks and mud on the S bank. This is where we exited. We scrambled from here straight up a steep, rocky route for about 1/4 of a mile from about 6,000 feet to 6,600 ft. We were back at the truck, and if we were cold before, after this little scramble up, we were warm, again.

To conclude, Bear Canyon would be a great introductory, metaphorical icebreaker for those who are interested in canyoneering. The whole trip was only about 3 miles. A little bit of orienteering was involved to get started, which was a fun challenge. The rappels were short and relatively straightforward. The set up for the Second Obstacle was a little tight and risky, but the others were okay. Also, at the Second Obstacle, one would have the opportunity to practice a floating disconnect without much current or the convenient option of avoiding it with some slack and a swim. The adventure is waiting for those who are careful, properly equipped, respectful of the intrinsic dangers, and accompanied by at least one person who has canyoneering and rappelling experience. One little tip: wait until later in the season to do Bear Canyon lest it will be a bone chilling icebreaker, literally.

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2009-04-27 PhilipMueller
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    After working fourteen days straight I needed an escape from the Valley of the Sun, and with temperatures rising in the last few weeks WCC seemed like the perfect place. We drove up Saturday night with the intention of camping and maybe descending a canyon depending on the weather. Sunday morning I could tell it would be too cold for any technical canyons in the area, so we settled for a day hike up West Clear. It was a beautiful day right up until the hike out when it started snowing on us, but who can complain about that?
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    3rd Canyon and Last Day of the Latest Rim Trip...My Friend from Colorado would be leaving for Home right after this Canyon...We were also taking a Friend's Wife down a Technical Section for the First Time... :)

    This Canyon will never get Old...2nd Time I've done it this Year and 3rd Time Overall...It's Different every Time I go... :D The Camera just always Finds New Angles and Different Light.... :) It was a little Cloudy when we started, but the Chance of Rain was Light, so we went, thinking we would be out of the Narrows by Noon....Well, it took a little longer than that, but it turned out ok....

    It started to Rain with a little Lightning while we were still in the Narrow Technical Section, but it didn't last...After we left the Narrows behind for Good and were done with the Technical Section, it started again...It was Sporadic Start and Stop until we got to WCC and then it came on with some Gusto and never Quit until an Hour after we got back to Camp...I'm betting they got 1" of Rain up there that Day... ;) We left our Wetsuits on for the Hike out...I actually left mine on while I Packed up Camp so I didn't have to worry about staying Dry... :sweat: It quit Raining just about the Time I was done except for the Tarp... ;)

    But the Rain was the Least of the Issue...The Lightning got pretty Interesting, especially after we started up the Point Trail...4 Times I saw the Flash and Heard it at the same Time...We actually stopped for a bit, almost afraid to "Top Out" for Fear that we would be even more Vulnerable...There was no Getting away from Trees, but at least we could stay down below the Rim just a Tad....

    Always a Beautiful Canyon that never Disappoints...Great Way to Top Off a Sweet Weekend of Canyons with Friends.... :y:

    Foliage
    Some Things are just starting to lose their "Green"....
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Camping and Canyons.... :y:
    4 Days, 3 Nights, with Canyons planned for 3 Days... :D 3 of us met up on Thursday Night and Set up Camp...1st Canyon of the Weekend would be Bear, followed by Sundance if everyone felt up to it...The Two Guys had never done either of them. One of the Guys had some Experience, the other, had done some Climbing, but was just getting into Canyoneering...I was really looking forward to seeing Bear again, this Time, with a Full Wetsuit and a slightly Better Camera... :D Bear was my First Canyon ever, 2 Years ago, almost to the Day....

    Got up in the Morning and headed out, dropping in almost from Camp...More Water than I remembered from last Time, but with all the Canyon Reports I've been seeing, and with all the Rain we've had this Spring and into June, I was not surprised....Made pretty quick work of the Approach and got to the Narrows...Went ahead and did the "Optional Rappel" and got to the Swimmer...Everyone had Full Suits on and although the Pool was pretty Frigid, we were fine...The Water at the Base of the 2nd Rappel was about Waist Deep this Time, but with no one behind us, we messed around a bit with some Ascending here too... :)

    The Third Rappel, someone had removed the Anchor and replaced it with a Handline, using Webbing...Rather than build a New Anchor, one of the Guys provided a Meat Anchor for me and then they used the Handline....A Swimmer at the Bottom of that one and then another Swimmer as the Canyon widened out...

    Hit West Clear Creek after a bit and took a Break at the Bottom of the Point Trail....The Guys decided that they had Time to do Sundance and I decided to Pass, wanting to not rush through Sundance and also to save some Energy for our Canyon the next Day...So they took off up the Trail and I enjoyed the Creek for awhile before heading up.... :)

    Got back to Camp and Relaxed, enjoying some Birds that were hanging around Camp...Walking Around on this Day, I found some Pretty Cool Birds... :y:

    It was a Good Day...Bear was as Beautiful as I remembered and I felt Great on the Whole Trip. There was a Spot down Canyon towards WCC where I had some Trouble last Time I was there, but this Time, I really didn't even think about it and it seemed easy to Downclimb...Must be getting used to some of this Stuff... :D

    Bear will stay on the List of Repeat Canyons...I love that Place and it has some Sentiment for me as well.... :)
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This first part is going to feel more like a Blog than a Triplog, but bear with me….I had a lot of time to think about this Trip beforehand, and wanted to share my thoughts…If you don’t want to wade through the “mush” then skip it to the Triplog itself below….

    I am in Love with Canyons….I think I always have been, but ever since I joined HAZ and saw the Photosets of Vaporman, nonot, toddak and other Canyoneers, it became even more evident, and I dreamed about being able to go where they go….Canyons remind me of the Ocean in so many ways…I have a deep Love for the Ocean…To stand on the Beach and look onto the endless Horizon of Water, hear the Roar of the Surf and marvel at the incredible Ecosystems that lay beneath, takes your breath away….You feel small, your Life insignificant in the Grand Scheme of things, and yet you are in a state of Awe that brings only Peace and Calm to your thoughts….Canyons are like that, in a different way….I have had the good fortune to visit a few Canyons, accessible without technical aid, and to stand in the middle of a narrow Canyon and marvel at Nature, baring her very Soul…Millions of Years, visible through Nature’s work of Time, Water, Wind and Sand, and with her Easel, painting a Wonderful Kaleidoscope of Colors and Layers…I crane my neck to admire the Towering Walls above and feel that same, small, insignificance that I experience at the Beach…And yet, I am in Awe of it all, as I am but a microscopic speck in the vast Drama of Chronology that becomes a Canyon...I have only begun the scratch the Surface of the magnificence that only Technical Canyoneering can bring…The Big Canyons have remained beyond my grasp, as only the few souls that can put total Trust in a Rope, some Hardware, and competent Partners can attain these incredible areas…

    I’ve been wanting to change that, for awhile now…The Dream has been there, the Timing has not, until now….The Dream is starting to become a Reality and things have been set in motion….I’m at the age now where I feel that Time is against me…I only have a few years left, before these battered old knees will give in completely…Time will only tell what potential will be, once I have Metal instead of Bone….And I’m not willing to bet the odds….It has become a Race against Time to do the hard, physical Trips that I still Dream about….

    Thanks to a fellow HAZer, I am on my way…Ken invited me to do Bear Canyon, knowing full well that I did not have one ounce of Education or Experience behind me. But he was willing to start from scratch and I trusted his judgement…How could I possibly turn this down??? The Rappels are straightforward and basically small, in the big world of Canyoneering, but it’s a start, and the huge step that I have been yearning for….I would be a fool to pass up this Opportunity and I have had my share of being a fool…So, this time, when Ken offered up that Brass Ring, I grabbed on with both hands and held on tight!!! I am fighting to shed the Self-doubt, Anxiety and lack of Confidence just long enough to get my feet wet…And if I’m successful, that Momentum and Confidence will allow me to push forward and carry on…So it’s time to Just Do It!!!!


    Finally after a month of extremely heightened Anticipation, the day arrived...The four of us met up and Ken drove us on up to the "TH"...I met a fellow HAZer, Scott, for the first time...(sbkelley aka Mr. Denali) It was pretty cool hearing about his Trip on the drive up...Also met a "T-Rex" named Mike who occasionally lurks on HAZ...Needless to say, the three guys provided constant entertainment... :lol:

    Got the Gear ready and then it was time for the "Canyoneering 101" lesson...Ken was nice enough to lend me the Equipment for the Trip, so I didn't have to lay out a bunch of funds right off the bat...Thanks Ken!!! They rigged up an Anchor around a Tree with some flat ground and I practiced a bit, just to get a feel for how it was going to be and take in those ever important safety lessons... :) And then we were off and descending down to the Canyon...

    Get to the Canyon and start Boulder Hopping down it...About 1/4 mile, I turn that pesky left ankle and go down... :pk: No sympathy from the guys, I was informed that since I was the first to land on my a**, I had to buy the shots afterward... :sl: Walked it off within 100 feet, but the confidence with the Boulder Hopping took a hit and I knew that the odds of rolling it again were good, so I had to be extra careful and really concentrate on foot placement after that...Strange, but I still wasn't worried about the Rappels though, which was good... :D

    Took a little break and then the Canyon started to narrow and we were at the first Rappel...This is probably optional for most people, but it was a really good one to practice on, before the 30 footer further down...Ken went first and belayed me...A little awkward as you have to duck under a Boulder before straightening out and I hadn't figured out comfortable foot placement yet to get the "balance" down, but it was good!!! Perfect Practice Round... :DANCE:

    And then we were at the Narrows and the cold, cold, swim awaited...According to Ken, the Water was down quite a bit from last year at this time and the Swim almost had a Keeper Pothole look, but we were able to find a Bite of Rock underwater and get out...Ah, first time immersing in Canyon Stew... :sweat: The Water was cold, but the Swim was quick so it wasn't toooo bad... :sweat: The 30 foot Rappel is immediately after the Swim so Ken went first and got the Rappel set up...Scott rappelled first and set up the Belay for me...And then I went...Ken got a couple of pictures... :D It was Awesome.... :y: With the Guys coaching from top and bottom, the form and stance improved... :D High fives and thumbs up at the bottom!!! :DANCE:

    Ken and Mike came down and then we were off into some more narrows...Came to the last Rappel and albeit shorter, it turned out to be the hardest...Tough, awkward start and it looked like we were going to have to disconnect in Water over our head...Ken went first into the deep, cold Water, trying both to find a spot to Belay, and also to see if we could avoid the awkward disconnect...He found a tight ledge to squeeze into for the Belay, but it was determined that the Water Disconnect was going to have to happen... :o :sweat: I went next with a totally awkward start and then I was in the Water...Couldn't find any footholds to get me shallower, so with Ken's help, I managed to disconnect rather quickly...Cold Water is a great Motivator... :sl: Swam to the other side of the Pool and headed for the Sun, with Ken right behind me...He had to be even colder... :sweat: Scott came down and then Mike brought up the rear, pulling the Rope...Dam, did that Sun feel good... :D Really sweet little spot too, with incredibly lush ferns carpeting the area...

    And the Rappelling was done...It was a blast!!! Waded through some more Pools and Boulder Hopped our way down towards West Clear Creek...The Pace seemed to pick up a bit after the Rappels, as I think the guys could almost taste the Beer at this point... :lol:

    In the weeks before this Trip, all I could think about was the Rappelling...That was a blessing, because it kept me from worrying about how I was going to "keep up" with 3 guys that were dam near half my age... :sl: I did my best to keep up and managed to keep at least one guy in sight, although most of the time, being the nice guys they are, one of them would bring up the rear...But these guys are all Mountain Goats and what they were jumping down from, I felt like I had to be a little more careful, so I was a little slower...Got into an awkward position at one point and probably bent the left knee in a way it wasn't used to and "tweaked" it some...Now slightly weak left ankle and sore left knee...Confidence took another hit...I get to a spot that Ken and Mike had already gotten down from and I had a real confidence hesitation...I made Scott go so I could see how he did it, but it didn't help...I hated it, but I finally had to accept the generous assistance of Ken and Scott to get down...Thanks for the patience and support guys...It just proves that when you're with good people, he who hesitates, isn't always lost... : app :

    Started running into people, had more than a few laughs :D and got to West Clear Creek...New area of WCC for me and it was sweet!!! The Water was crystal clear and warm... :sweat: : app : Ken had a spot in mind for a Lunch/Beer break so we bypassed the exit and went upstream a little further...I think Ken had another motive to hit this spot as well... :lol: He may have been thinking that Bear Canyon may not have been enough to get me addicted to Rappelling, so he took us to the bottom of the 180 foot Rappel at the base of Sundance Canyon...Oh...His "addiction plan" wasn't really necessary, but it certainly sealed the deal for me...Wow!!! What an incredible area!!! Towering Cliffs encircled you for 340 degrees...It was amAZing!!! Perfect spot to crack open some Brews, do a toast to the fact that I didn't "break a leg" and just enjoy!!! Ok Ken, you probably blew it, as now I'm going to be bugging you to go back and take me down Sundance... :sl:

    After a great Break, it was time to go and we headed back downstream to the exit...The Exit was pretty steep and I had more trouble than I would have liked...It wasn't just a steep uphill, it was big steps which really made me suck Wind...Ken and Mr. Denali sprinted up ahead and Mike kept me company...Probably harder too, since this was the first strenuous uphill I've really done since I got over my Cold...But I managed to get up without resorting to a crawl, so it was all good... :sweat: Got back to "Base!" and relaxed for a bit before the drive home.

    Wow!!! What else can I possibly say about this Trip??? Very cool Canyon that I never could have seen without the aid of some gear and an incredible Team...Ken, Scott, Mike, thank you for all of your support, patience, skilled instruction, and last, but not least, the laughs that never quit, not even on the drive home... :sl: Hopefully this will not be my last Technical Canyon, but it will certainly stay at the top of the list as the most memorable...You guys made this so easy and comfortable it was almost surreal...Ken, thank you so much for taking a chance on me and allowing me to realize this Dream of mine, you ROCK!!! : app : : app : : app :

    Need a Waterproof Camera badly...The Old Camera is on it's last legs...Tons of use and a near Drowning have pretty much done it in.... ;)

    And now, the Rappelling Gear gets inserted into the Budget as well...It's Official, I'm addicted... :y:

    Wildflowers
    Columbine is blooming as well as a few other species....
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Well, this was a new experience...

    After spending most of my days in Arizona seeking her summits and high places, it was time to explore what all this canyoneering fuss was about. Look what I was missing all this time! Although I learned a good lesson: invest in a wetsuit before doing more of this! :)

    Ken organized a trip for this weekend, hoping to take our time through Bear on Saturday, then moving to Sundance for Sunday. He was the only one in our crew with any canyoneering experience, but we all had some rappelling and anchor-building background. His friend Mike joined us, and of course, Tanya was along!

    The trailhead was busy on Saturday (and late Friday night, for that matter), but after we left the parking lot and began the bushwhack into Bear, things got much more quiet. Before entering the Narrows, a boy scout troop flew past us while we were setting up a rappel over a tricky chockstone. They jumped down a ledge a few yards off to our left, and we never saw them again.

    The narrows were absolutely spectacular! Upon reaching the first swimmer, Ken went across to set up the rappel on the other side, which I would descend first. Being pretty warm and not knowing any better, I charged into the pool with neopyhte gusto....and promptly had the air sucked out of my lungs by frigid water! I clumsily swam across as Ken laughed, and he helped me get set up to descend. I rappelled down and made a bee-line for a nearby spot of sunlight. Mike and Tanya followed, also shivering, but smiling. He got to watch everyone's similar reactions as they entered and swam towards him. Everyone got down the main rappel in good style and we regrouped to warm up.

    As we set up the next rappel, I was shivering from the cold while messing with some webbing...on a day when 95% of this state was broiling. After dropping into the water after the rappel, I pulled the rope and joined the crew on the other side. There was a bat hopping around on a log inside this pool and I thankfully avoided stepping on the poor guy.

    One last swim and we were into the open and sunny canyon. Live and learn: it wasn't the rappels or technical parts that got me: it was the frigid pools. With Sundance and its pools looming, I knew I should at least bring dry, warm clothes for the big rappel.
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    A great warm up trek before we did Sundance Canyon later in the day. What a great time and group. Such a new experience for me being in the canyons like this. Loved getting the experience and our group was just awesome. Nothing like going swimming in cold pools of stagnant water. Swimming when I could have been on a high-line, laughing and slipping in the water, having fun while staying safe. Would love to do more canyoneering now for some reason? ;)
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    We ran up to WCC this Sunday morning to do a Bear & Sundance figure 8 loop. :sweat: Started off with Bear since it's the easier of the two by far and one of the guys didn't have much rope experience. This short & sweet canyon is always a fun little romp but after like 5 times of descending it, some of the magic is starting to wear off. :lol: Plenty of bushwhacking and down climbing before reaching the narrows. The first rappel was bone dry, so we down climbed it. That first swimmer was like 6 inches below the lip but we still beach whaled out of it without too much difficulty. We all did that sweet 25ft rappel before straddling the log and plunging deeper down the rabbit hole. :) Soon we hit that awkward 10ft chockstone rappel with logs below. Skilled log balancers can avoid getting wet above their waist but after some more sweet narrows there's that final chest high pool to wade before unfortunately exiting the narrows into the mostly dry rock & boulder filled lower canyon. We dropped gear and rock hopped down to the always beautiful WCC before making the steep climb up the Point trail. :sweat:
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Got to hit up a section of WCC finally with some friends. Explored the canyon and bit, caught some monster trout out of the pools, checked out a huge climbing wall, and didn't want to leave. Will have to make a few days of a trek down there next time and bring plenty of gear and no dogs to look after. Just a great way to spend the weekend.
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Well after Sundance Canyon was a bust, we moved on to part two of today's plans, a night run thru Bear Canyon. :y: We setup camp and ate dinner, put on our wetsuits, and left camp about 9:15pm for Bear Canyon. My gal friend missed out on one canyon already today and didn't want to sit in camp alone while I had all the fun. :) Ohh boy was it pitch black on this near starless night with flashes of lightning far off in the distance. : rambo : I've done Bear a few times before but there's no way I could have done it that night without the GPS even with that bright spotlight strapped around my head, so I blindly followed it to our starting off point. It was such a warm & humid evening that I dropped the upper half of my wetsuit and hiked in half naked and still sweating. :sweat: When we hit the first set of down climbs, it was nice to recognize those obstacles and know for sure we're in the right canyon. ;) It was sweet & eery to hit the dark narrows and make the first short rappel and then slide/climb in that first swimmer. The pool surprisingly wasn't that cold but the water was a good 2ft down from the lip and while I was able to get out with no issue, I had to help pull her out since she's shorter... Above that 2nd rappel is my fav part of this canyon and it was pretty sweet to see it in the dark. She had some gear 'issues' on that rap, so I had to ascend back up to check it out and kindly tell her that it's supposed to be like that. :lol: Onward we pushed thru some more light obstacles & pools and arrived at the final rappel. Hmm, didn't that log used to lean at more at an angle and now it's kinna in the way and will make for an even more awkward rappel. :roll: Most of the pools weren't too bad, but the pool below that rap was still cold enough for us to see our breath... I related to my friend that a previous party had to step over a bear carcuss, so she was spooked in just about every pool from here on out and shrieked whenever she stepped on something soft. :lol: A few more pools to wade and we were out of the narrows and to cut things short on this already late night, we ascended up that steep bushy canyon that drops in right there. That's not a very pleasant exit route esp in the dark but it's much quicker than going all the way to WCC. I broke out the GPS and followed it back to camp arriving a little after midnight so we can finally drop the wetsuits and crash for the night.

    This is my 2nd night canyoneering trip and while this canyon was fun, it wasn't quite as much fun as I remember it being when I did Keyhole in Zion... Hmm, maybe Bear is just too much of bushwhack to pleasantly do at night, or it's just not challenging enough, or maybe a larger more energetic group would have helped. Maybe next time I'll try a night run thru Sundance... That final 180ft rappel into the dark abyss with only a headlamp would be a rush! : rambo :
    Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
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    I took a handful of friends to hop in this technical WCC canyon hoping it had warmed back up enough after 9 months since visiting this beautiful canyon. One of the rides got a flat tire on the drive along FR149 and then I accidently dropped into the wrong fork of Bear Canyon though I highly doubt I'm the first to make that mistake. :lol: After getting scraped up a bit and realizing my mistake, we climbed up the ridge to the west of us and dropped into the correct fork. After some bushwhacking, log hopping, and light down climbing we eventually reached the narrows section and geared up. :) The narrows was the usual short rappels, easy down climbing, rather chilly swimmers & waders, some fallen trees to negotiate, and there was even some remaining snow patches & ice chunks. :o After the narrows, I quickly dropped my wetsuit and changed into dry clothes and broke out some body warmers for the short hike out. WCC was as beautiful as ever though we didn't have too much daylight left to linger before making the steep hike back up to the rim. :sweat:

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To 142E Trailhead
    From Phx, take I-17 N to exit 287/HWY 260. Take 260 E and just before milepost 249, turn left/N onto FR 144. Take FR 144 1.8 miles and turn left onto FR 149. Follow FR 149 1.1 miles to a T junction with FR 142. Turn right onto FR 142 and follow it .8 mile to FR 142E on the left (there was a sign for 142D and on the other side of the same road was a rock painted with 142E). Stay straight on FR142 another 0.8 miles until it dips down and crosses Tom's Creek. There are parking options in this area off the road.

    2016-07 LindaAnn writes: The last 1/3 mile or so on 142E is the only rough part, maybe not great for low clearance, but easy enough to park there and walk a little extra to the trailhead.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 132 mi - about 2 hours 30 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 237 mi - about 3 hours 59 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 90.2 mi - about 1 hour 51 mins
    page created by PhilipMueller on Apr 26 2009 9:07 pm
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