Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Very tough no trail canyon
Time will vary considerably by your ability.
This hike can range from difficult to impossible depending on how well prepared your group is and the amount/type of gear you carry.
We began the hike off 142E east of Bear Canyon and ended at Bull Pen road where we dropped off a vehicle before heading off to the trail head (16 miles west as the crow flies).
The canyon starts out fairly easy to hike for the 1st 4 hours or so and then the difficulty increases and doesn't let up until the final 8 trail miles or so. Remember, in this canyon "as the crow flies" and "trail miles" are drastically different because of the snaking and twisting nature of the canyon.
For this trip you must be prepared for long days of overcoming obstacles, back tracking, constant wading and water crossings and approximately 10 swims. Some of these swims are 100+ yards long and the water is very cold in April when we went. We estimate water temp in the high 40's low 50's (April).
To tackle these swims we utilized a small inflatable raft for floating 2 packs at a time and a rope to ensure we didn't lose it. The swims are very challenging and the biggest time suck of the entire trip. I would recommend practicing changing shoes/prepping your raft so that you can minimize this time suck. Some days you will only make 5 or some miles of progress in 8 hours of hiking.
Here is the gear list that I used: Shelter, Tent, Sleeping bag, Poncho and a hiking pole is an absolute MUST!
Food/Cooking: Food, Cookware, Burner, Lighter, Fire Steel, Plate, Spork, Cup, Baggies/Bags, Water Bladder, Water Filter, Bottle, Fishing rig, Stringer, Net, Seasoning
Hiking Gear: Pack, Boots, Aqua shoes, Drybags, Sunglasses, Extra reg glasses, Monocular, Flashlight, Headlamp, Whistle, Insect Repellent, Sunscreen, Compass, GPS, Gloves, Cell Phone, Camera, Rope, Walking pole, Raft
Tools: Multi-tool, Brush, Hatchet, Shovel, Knife (2)
First Aid: H2O2, Hydrocort UNG, AAA Ung, Epi-pen, Cipro, Flagyl, Ibuprofen, Gauze, Wrap, Nail Clippers, Tums, Imodium, Ankle Brace
Hygiene Toothbrush, Bar Soap, Toilet paper, Deodorant, Hand Towel
Clothes: Pant/Shorts, Hoodie, Thermals, 2 Shirts, Extra Socks, Flip Flops, Hat
MISC: Cards, Pen and Paper, Handgun. RENT a satellite phone online before you take this trip. You will find it to be absolutely invaluable. Take this piece of advice even if you don't think it's necessary.
I would recommend buying a quality pair of water shoes for this trip, no WalMart specials or you'll regret it. Also consider bringing a wetsuit depending on your cold tolerance.
The fishing isn't too good until the last few miles so I'd probably ditch the fishing gear and just bring a net for crawfish if you want.
A good GPS and nice 24k topo maps will save your butt when trying to keep on the right trail on your way out of the canyon on the final 6 mile stretch.
The terrain in this canyon is some of the most challenging I have ever seen. When I say there is no trail I mean there is ABSOLUTELY NO TRAIL for the 1st 18 miles of the hike. Be ready for slow moving.
The things we came across are as follows:
Gravel bottomed stream (easy)
Medium & large rock bottomed stream (algae = very slippery)
Thick bush whacking (sticker bushes where the worst)
Short grass, dirt (a nice break from the madness)
Large and medium boulders (up and over all stinking day!)
Steep grades with loose dirt and rocks/cacti (very dangerous)
Be aware that areas suitable for camping are few and far between. If you see a spot withing the last 2 hours or so of daylight TAKE IT! Look for rock stacks as a hint of campsites above!
This hike is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. Be prepared and be safe, it's damn near impossible to get out of this canyon without finishing the hike. Good luck and be safe! This trip is a challenge, not a leisure hike.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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