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Hellsgate 37 ( North ) to Tonto Creek
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mini location map2016-06-18
19 by photographer avatarThe_Dude
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Hellsgate 37 ( North ) to Tonto CreekPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Jun 18 2016
Backpack17.42 Miles 4,025 AEG
Backpack17.42 Miles2 Days         
4,025 ft AEG28 LBS Pack
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Ah, Father's Day Weekend out in the wild. I had done this trip with the Earthiest and Azwildguide 5 years ago as our first backpack trip, and I have been wanting to make it back ever since now that I know what I am doing a little better. Unfortunate that we got the hottest weekend of the year to do it on, but we have had the planning in the works for about a month and none of us wanted to bail. 5 of us drove up Friday night to car camp at the trailhead only to find out that we could not camp within a 1/4 mile due to there being a spring box at the worries we just went down the road a bit and found a nice clearing. We got loaded up and on the trail by 7:30 Saturday morning and it was already starting to get warm. There is a decent amount of shade for the first few miles, but it gets progressively more open the farther along you go. We got down to Tonto Creek a bit after noon and had lunch and set up camp. Three of us had hammocks and two had tents so we had to split up camp a bit. We hung our hammocks on the west side of the creek where there were many Sycamores and Willows to do the trick, the tenters set up on the sandy beach just to the east. Tonto was very silty and chocolaty, so we had to head down to Haigler to get better water to filter. After a little break, three of us started out way up Tonto Creek through the gates of Hell. Gorgeous canyon, even if we could not see what was in the water. It must have been about 68-70 degrees in the water, blissful on the sore legs and made the 100+ temps in the canyon much more reasonable. There are long stretches that are too deep to touch so lots of swimming was required. No worries, I just inflated my little 5L dry bag and used it as a floater to take it easy. We made it a good mile + up the creek alternating swimming, bouldering, and scrambling when needed. We must have passed by a good 5 or 6 waterfalls along the way. This is really the highlight of the whole trip and makes the hike out worth it in my opinion. Got back to camp and made some dinner shortly thereafter, once we had gone through our beer we all turned in by 8-9 so we could get an early start in the morning. We all got on the trail between 6-7 the next morning, I had to filter some more water so I was the last man out, but quickly caught up with the group. Don't kid yourself, the first two miles coming out of the canyon are pretty rough, it is like climbing Piestewa one and a half times, with an overnight pack to boot. We all continued our way with many breaks, and made it back to the trucks about 12:30. Quick stop at the Payson McD's (I think this is the only time I ever eat there) to replenish salts and a hobo bath in the sink and we were on back down the hill. Hard fought in the heat, but fantastic trip!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Cholla and Prickly Pear had some nice bloom, but that was about it.
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