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Old Hance to Sockdolager Rapid, AZ
mini location map2013-05-18
45 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Old Hance to Sockdolager Rapid, AZ 
Old Hance to Sockdolager Rapid, AZ
Backpack avatar May 18 2013
Backpack14.75 Miles 6,200 AEG
Backpack14.75 Miles2 Days         
6,200 ft AEG
1st trip
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The plan was to backpack down the Old Hance Trail and set up camp at the junction of Hance Creek and the Tonto Trail. From there we would day hike down Hance Creek to Sockdolager Rapid. Chumley and I would take the Old Hance Trail while Frank, Elliot & Teresa would take the Grandview Trail and we’d all meet at the camp spot.

Our hike started from the fire road by mile post 256. We left my jeep there and then started down the remains of the Old Hance trail. The top section is in fairly decent condition. The route deteriorates as you descend. After a bit you find yourself in a drainage and the best bet is to continue following it down. As we descended we found some cairns here and there but they are not consistent. We continued down and actually got lucky and were able to follow signs of a route. After considerable work we reached the break in the Redwall and descended into the start of Hance Creek.

There is a bypass at the start of Hance Creek and then the rest of the creek is straight forward. You basically rock hop as you wind down the creek bed. We made respectable time and reached the junction of Hance Creek and the Tonto. Chumley and I set up camp and while we were doing that Frank and the others showed up. All of us got set up and enjoyed some lunch and then started our hike down Hance Creek toward the Colorado River.

The first two plus miles down Hance Creek are easy and enjoyable. The creek was running and the scenery is spectacular. Vishnu Temple looms straight ahead for most of the hike. After two miles the canyon tightens up as you hike past walls of Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite. The inner canyon is just stunning! We continued on and reached the first bypass. We made quick work of the bypass and continued to the second. This is where I turned around last month. I led the way up and as I climbed the clouds darkened and the wind picked up. Some drizzle fell as I climbed and luckily it was not an issue. I would say this second bypass is the longest and most difficult. It’s steep and loose. I was glad when I reached the top however the backside is loose and steep as well. I was very happy once back in the creek bed. We continued on.

The next few minutes are easy hiking as you hike along Hance Creek. You then come to a chokestone that appears to be impassable. I went back up creek looking for what I thought was the third bypass. While back there Chumley found a route down using a crack in the rock to the right of the chokestone. Getting down this was a bit tricky because you down climb it blindly. There are good holds and once you’re at the bottom you see it’s not a big deal. Going up was simple. We continued on and found the third and final bypass. You are rewarded with a magnificent view of Sockdolager Rapid at the top. All of us made our way down to the rapid and were treated to a group of rafters going through. After that we pretty much packed up and started our return. On the hike back I stopped by the falls requiring bypass two and three. This side canyon is a thing of beauty!

Once back at camp all of us relaxed and started having our dinner and beer! Hance Creek did an excellent job keeping our beer cold and delicious! Later that evening we set up the party lights and had some neighbors join us for a bit. We all turned in by 10pm and that ended an amazing day in the Canyon!

We woke on day two and broke down camp. Chumley and I said goodbye to Frank and the others. They were heading back out Grandview and we were heading back up Old Hance. We made good time as we hiked up Hance Creek. We took a short break by John Hance’s old camp remains. We continued on and reached the Redwall break and then started making the climb out. The going up was pretty much what I expected. Steep and taxing! As we scrambled up we noticed we were on our same route we followed down. I was feeling really good about this! Unfortunately that would change.

As you’ll see in our GPS track we made our way up a drainage too far to the west. By the time we realized our error we decided to continue up with the intention of making our way to the east. This is far easier said than done. Moving horizontally in this ravine is extremely difficult because it’s steep and overgrown. Every inch was hard won on our scramble up. We fought to get into the correct drainage but knew it was a losing battle. It looked like there was a break in the Kaibab Limestone near the top and we decided to go for it. We continued fighting up and soon after found ourselves back on the rim to great delight! Our route felt like abuse. I was bloody and exhausted!

From there we made our way over to the jeep and then stopped by the store to say goodbye to Haley and then returned to Phoenix. This was a brutal hike especially the climb out! Learn from our mistake and make sure you take the proper drainage out. It will make your life much easier! Besides that Sockdolager is awesome and the inner canyon is spectacular. Give this hike a try if you love rough going with a mixture of beauty few people see.
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