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West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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mini location map2009-10-23
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West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 23 2009
Hiking6.00 Miles 200 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles   8 Hrs      0.75 mph
200 ft AEG
Linked none no linked trail guides
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From our camping room in Flag, we headed southbound on 89A to the West Fork of Oak Creek. We did get to see a small herd of elk not too far off the road (first elk I've seen in decades) and then we encountered a controlled-burn smoke area. This smoke and its smell did sit along the West Fork for a little while in the morning.

It was suggested that in order to avoid some of the crowds to go early. Great idea except that the photo quality isn't the best and darn it, it was COLD :-({|= . At 7:15AM we arrived at our parking spot on the west side of 89A just north of the turn off to West Fork parking. Little did we know we were parked behind the Tortoise Hiker's car. We walked in and Kat paid our $1 each fee so that we could proceed legally. It was indeed chilly so we bundled up and started on our way. I didn't realize there had been a Lodge (Mayhews) at the trailhead so that was an intriguing encounter. It must have been something else in its day. (After the hike, for another dollar we got a postcard of the Lodge and a trail map from the ranger at the gate).

When we got to the first major crossing, we were impressed by the canyon wall overhang that creates the tunnel or wave effect. We didn't realize how many of these overhangs we would see but they are pretty cool looking for sure. The canyon walls, when you thot to look at them, were something as well but the foilage just overwhelmed that; especially because the sun still wasn't quite out fully.

A little later we were delighted at the amAZing non-stop fall colors; especially the vibrant reds. I really liked the coral colors as well. There were trees that were show-stoppers :o , that's where I lost Kat (the tree was off trail a little), and then scenes of overwhelmingly intense colors that simply took your breath away. The first person I encountered on the trail was none other than HAZ's Denny. Such an unexpected and pleasant surprise. By this time I had already lost track of Kat. I thought she was ahead of me, altho Denny said he hadn't seen her, so I continued on.

I spent a lot of time at the Rock Slide area, I just now learned its name. The colors around the fallen tree trunk next to it were so superb. I liked the yellows around the Huge Rectangular Boulder (just past the large log jam, first of two). I still thot Kat was probably ahead of me so I figured that if worse came to worse, we would just meet up at the end of the trail.

However, some time later I decided to ask people that were coming up to pass me (what else is new ;) ) if they had seen a girl with really blonde hair... most would say, "yes, and she was taking pictures". So after feeling pretty confident that she was indeed behind me by about 20 mins, I decided to go back for her. I knew there was an area where you could go a little ways away from the creek or hike along it and as I got close to there I yelled out politely "Kat" and believe it or not, there she was, down by the creek.

Anyway, we made our way back to where I had already been which was fine with me. This scenery is worth seeing a couple times. From Slide Rock it is very interesting hiking; including by the "overhanging rock" where I initially turned around to go back for Kat... but especially after you pass the water area that has the duck food in it (little green bits) as you go up into an area that is still green and lush (second to last creek crossing before turning around). We saw a mallard in the creek eating away at the green bits. We crossed up the creek for the last time. According to Kat who explored up a tad further, it is just past here that you can't really go any futher unless you want to go in the creek or bushwhack upward a little.

A bunch of photographers had gathered at the last creek crossing. I think that's where azpride got my favorite of his photographs of the leaves in the water. The leaves were still there but I couldn't even begin to replicate the photo Joel had taken (and not that I could, I just wanted to photograph that scene)... but then again the photographers had taken over the area that may have given me a better angle.

We reluctantly :( turned around and made our way back to enjoy the scenery all over again. We were both going to be milking our camera battery power on the way back. We both changed our batteries at the same time and they lasted for the rest of the trip. Of course, the closer we got to the trailhead, the crowds were making their way in. On the way back, it was funny as almost everyone I had asked about Kat would comment, "you found her". :D

I think somewhere I read that you cross the creek 11 times. I took my trekking poles but there really was no need. I do believe this hike lived up to the hype, isn't that great! It's good to start early in the AM but picture quality, at least for me, was surely restricted.
Mallard Duck
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Extreme
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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