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Fossil Creek - Mazatzal Wilderness Area
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mini location map2008-06-24
28 by photographer avatarsnakemarks
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Fossil Creek - Mazatzal Wilderness AreaCamp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Jun 24 2008
Canyoneering4.00 Miles 820 AEG
Canyoneering4.00 Miles
820 ft AEG
C - Strong current; wading/swimming; waterfalls; possible wet/dry suit
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Needed a break from the heat so I did a little exploring up at Fossil Creek. It is an 88 mile drive from my house. The first 77 miles took me an hour and 15 minutes. The last 10 miles on Fossil Creek Road took me an hour and a half! Not kidding. If you think that the unpaved section of the Apache Trail is rough on your vehicle and gets a bit tense in spots, you ain't seen nothin' yet! FC Road is one lane, no shoulders, no guard rails, a rock wall on one side and a drop straight down on the other. It was white knuckle driving at it's finest, and I kept looking in the rear view mirror to see if my truck was leaving a trail of parts behind it. There were actually two of those homemade memorials (for deceased motorists) along the way on the drop side of the 'road'. I am surprised there aren't more of them. It was a very pretty drive so, I guess it's good that they didn't go and spoil the scenery by putting an actual road on the side of this mountain!

Having only hiked the seasonal creeks in the Supes, I was thrilled at the volume of water here and how fast it moves. Another nice surprise was how pleasant it's temperature is, not bone chilling like you would expect for rushing water. The depth of the creek changes constantly - one minute you're trying to navigate knee-deep white water toward what looks like a still pool ahead, and the next minute the bottom drops out from under you and you are rapidly swept downstream by the surprisingly powerful current. The water level is low enough now to go around it on either side if you want to avoid trying to negotiate the many fast moving rapids. Although the footing is excellent on the rough rock, the current is strong enough to always keep you off balance. I wouldn't attempt it without trekking poles. Since you can't see the uneven bottom most of the time, they are invaluable for locating your next step and for keeping yourself vertical against the flow. It's easy enough to see how this creek could support a power plant!

I parked as far downstream as you could take a vehicle and still have access to the creek. Before this point, there are campsites everywhere, and sadly, the garbage that comes with them. It's hard to believe that anyone who would be inspired to make the long and difficult drive to get to this beautiful place would also be ignorant enough to leave their trash. The most disgusting thing of all was seeing hundreds of wads of toilet paper along the side of the creek, many less than 30 ft from the water's edge. Some of the more recent waste was just sitting on top of the ground. Not that burying it would have been much better since all of it gets submerged after a good rain... a lovely thought. What is wrong with these people, anyway?! I had originally planned on processing my drinking water as I needed it along the way, but at the last minute when I was getting my gear out of the truck, I filled a couple bottles with ice and cold water from the cooler I had brought with me. I am so glad I did. Purification might make this water safe, but it sure can't make it appealing! Fortunately, since these slobs are 'campers' and require continuous access to their vehicle in order to produce this much trash, hiking downstream from the last parking area took me away from this mess and into some unspoiled beauty. Here I was reminded of why I made this long journey in the first place. It was slow going in the creek and I spent so much time taking pictures and goofing around that I only hiked two miles downstream before I thought I should head back. I didn't want to be anywhere on Fossil Creek Road after dark!

All in all, it was a nice day and an enjoyable trip. For us valley folk, shade and water are precious luxuries in summer, and to be in them both at the same time just can't be anything less than great!
I'm at home in the wilderness... it's civilization I have problems with! ](*,)
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