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mini location map2019-11-09
30 by photographer avatarbretinthewild
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Bill Hall TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 09 2019
bretinthewild
Backpack24.00 Miles 9,855 AEG
Backpack24.00 Miles3 Days         
9,855 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Check this one off the bucket list. :DANCE: Awesome trip with friends over Veteran's Day weekend. We had a permit for Upper Tapeats on Saturday and Esplanade on Sunday.

Friday -- Called in some Cornish Pasty for pick-up on the way through Flagstaff. Got up to Jacob Lake and car camped off FR 461 in the pines. With a long drive from Phoenix and having not been to Bill Hall previously we opted to do most of the forest roads the following morning.

Saturday -- Drove to Bill Hall trailhead; roads all in really good shape. Hiked down and we each cached 2-3L water on the Esplanade, which we saved for the hike out on Monday. Made it down the Red Wall Break, through Surprise Valley and past Thunder River to Upper Tapeats for the night. It's a nice camp; sites are pretty spread out for privacy. Easy access to the creek. Toilet was super full (gross) and there were mice at our site. But we enjoyed nonetheless and let the creek roll us off to sleep. 8.8 miles.

Sunday -- This was our big day. Our group split up in 2 pairs. One group decided to hike back up to the Esplanade the way we came, knowing it was going to be tough enough just to get back up the Red Wall section. I opted with a friend to take the "scenic" route looping around along the Colorado River to Deer Creek Falls and back up. It did not disappoint and was probably my toughest day in the canyon yet.

Leaving Upper Tapeats, we took the route west of the creek down to the river. We thought about doing the east route but couldn't quickly find a suitable place to cross the creek. After turning up the river we opted for the lower route once it splits off, mostly because it looked shorter. There were a couple places where the trail was pretty narrow with some exposure, but it's definitely passable. Reminded me of some tight spots on the Tonto and Clear Creek trails.

We dropped our big packs at Deer Creek, got through the narrows and to Deer Creek Falls for lunch. Had the falls to ourselves for about 10 minutes before some rafting folks came by. Filled up our water at Deer Creek and started the grueling last part of our day up into Surprise Valley and over the Red Wall Break.

Sun went down on us at the beginning of the wall so we did most of it in the dark. On the Esplanade someone has tied very small reflective string to guide the route, which was super helpful at night. Made it to camp exhausted and happy. 11.5 miles.

Monday -- Relatively quick hike out but all uphill. Glad we camped at the Esplanade to cut down on some of the mileage and elevation. 3.7 miles. Called in some Diablo Burger for pick-up on the way back through Flagstaff.

Overall, great trip to a special place... If we had more time I would've liked to stay an extra night at Deer Creek to split up the hike, which would have let the others in our group experience it as well. Next time...
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