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mini location map2012-11-23
7 by photographer avatarJoelHazelton
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Red CreekCamp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 23 2012
Backpack13.25 Miles 870 AEG
Backpack13.25 Miles3 Days         
870 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Thanksgiving weekend backpacking trip that was so pleasant, I'm going to make sure it becomes a tradition.

Kristen and I parked at the intersection of fr269 and fr18 and hiked the 2 miles to the creek. As it turns out, the entrance of fr18 looks decevingly rough- if I had just gotten out and kicked aside a couple of big boulders, we would have hit smooth road fairly quickly again and driven another easy mile before the road gets rough again. Oh well, what's an extra mile of hiking on a planned three day trip.

We got a mid-afternoon start, so we only made it about a mile down the creek before we decided on a perfectly idyllic campsite to settle down for the evening. Tent, firewood, firepit, construction of rock camp chairs, a couple of backpacking gatoritas, and I was off to chase evening light and fall colors. Kristen explored the area and an interesting side canyon while I got lost in my photo world. After dark, evening consisted of more gatoritas (perfect backpacking drink, btw, as you are constantly hydrating and replenishing electrolytes while tying on a buzz. Have 8 and you'll still feel great the next morning!), BP pantry Red Beans and Rice and Pad Thai, and a pleasant campfire. Sometime around 7PM, a jeep with some bored looking passengers rumbled past.

The next morning we were up at sunrise and chasing more light. The rest of the morning was leisurely, as we had another small fire to toast bread for breakfast and took our time breaking camp. Mid-morning we were packed up and headed toward the Verde. Finding another campsite along Red Creek was really tempting, and likely what I will do on subsequent trips, but I really wanted to camp by the Verde. We spent the better part of 2 miles playing leap-frog with a large jeep crew. While it did take away from the experience a bit, and some people would be really bothered by their presence, they were nice people having a good time*.

The Verde was heavily populated with 4-wheelers. We made our way about a half mile upstream along the floodplain and found a nice campsite right above the river. Not as beautiful as the previous night, but still pleasant. Saturday night was much like Friday night, except we had run out of Gatorade packets, thus ensuring a rougher start the next morning.

Sunday morning we were up at 4:30AM and hiking by 5AM. I insisted on reaching a pre-scouted photo spot almost 2 miles upstream before sunrise, and I'm lucky Kristen is a trooper. It was just getting light as we got there and we spent a while filtering water. By the time we had water, it was light enough to see through my viewfinder, and I spent the next hour and a half with my face glued to it. Around 8:30 I was satisfied and we started the slog up the creek and back to the car.

We reached the car around 11, hauled ass back to Cave Creek and had a delicious lunch at some fancy Mexican restaurant. We looked disheveled and smelled like shit, and everyone else was dressed up. It was awesome.

*Although I have no issues with the jeeps, ATVs and their drivers/passengers that frequent the area, I would still love to see the Mazatzal Wilderness extended to include Red Creek, or some other solution that would result in it being returned to relatively pristine condition. It's such a rare gem in the desert, and I selfishly want it solely for my hiking and backpacking enjoyment, sans motorized vehicles.
"Arizona is the land of contrast... You can go from Minnesota to California in a matter of minutes, then have Mexican food that night." -Jack Dykinga
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