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54 by photographer avatarVaporman
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Willow ValleyPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Apr 16 2011
Canyoneering20.00 Miles 1,500 AEG
Canyoneering20.00 Miles1 Day   3 Hrs      
1,500 ft AEG
Canyon Hiking - Non-technical; no rope; easy scrambling; occasional hand use
B - Up to light current; wading/swimming; possible wet/dry suit
III - Normally requires most of a day
 no routes
I was looking for non-technical overnighter up on the rim to just getting away from it all and mid-April is usually when all the rim roads re-open so I figured I'd drive up and see how much snow was left and which roads I could access and was pleased to see no snow and the roads pretty much all re-opened. :y:

I worked that Saturday morning, but I drove up that afternoon and got a few miles in on FR142 before parking and beelining across the rim towards middle Tom's Creek and dropped in via a steep side drainage. It'd been SO long since I'd been in WCC that I was quickly enchanted by even a hint of the sandstone goodness yet to come. :D Followed Tom's Creek downstream to its confluence with Clover Creek and continued on to the confluence with Willow Valley and the beginning of WCC and setup camp at a sweet campsite nearby. Nice, it only took 3 hours of scenic rock hopping to get here. :sweat: Heated up a Mountain House, rolled out my bag & pad, made a small fire, watched as the full moon lit up the canyon thru the clouds, and listened to the many canyon sounds. ;)

Woke up early the next cool morning, did the morning rituals, and made an early trek up Willow Valley to the 'springs'. The morning stayed cool and the water was chilly, so I avoided the creek when possible and stuck to less scenic side trails. The deciduous trees and ferns and grass haven't all grown back yet with much evidence of some massive winter flows that rushed thru here, but Willow Valley was still just as amAZingly beautiful as she ever is. :D On the way up, I saw a handful of geese and even a few elk grazing down in the creek. Once at the springs, I chilled at took a lunch break & power nap before returning downstream and taking loads more photos in the better light. At the confluence & back at camp, I packed back up my full backpack and by then I'd decided I wasn't going to return the way I came in but instead continue down WCC and exit up 142E trail and walk 142 back to my car. :sweat: It's been a few years since I'd hiked straight thru this part of WCC so I was kinna surprised and how close every thing was together. :lol: Before I knew it I was passing the Maxwell trail, Tramway trail, the springs and Sundance Canyon already?!? :o I crossed the waist hike chilly creek to enter the Cathedral of lower Sundance Canyon as was treated with the lightly trickling 180ft falls and a 6th high ice/snow mound at the bottom. After checking that out, I continued around the corner and up the 142E trail and was pleased that I'd still have plenty of light for the LONG road walk back to my car. :sweat:

WOW, West Clear Creek always has a way of blowing my mind every spring/early summer with it's amAZing beauty and I can't wait to start canyoneering here again. :y:
Yea, canyoneering is an extreme sport... EXTREMELY dramatic!!! =p
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