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Willow Creek - Lower - 2 members in 1 triplog have rated this an average 2.5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 29 2012

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 Joined Nov 18 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
Willow Creek - LowerPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Jul 29 2012
Backpack21.00 Miles 2,400 AEG
Backpack21.00 Miles2 Days   14 Hrs      
2,400 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break38 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Willow Creek was much like Leonard Canyon, so it wasn't a surprise that the canyon wasn't that great. I knew it would be dry when I crossed at Wiggins bridge. I was hoping for more water, but it wasn't meant to be. Lots of elk and elk sign though.

I didn't pick the best route down to the creek from the rim. However, I'm not sure there *is* a best route.

The first few miles were great, after that it got a bit sloggy and my spirit waned. The locust was much more prevalent in Willow than Leonard.

I was shocked when I hit ECC, how could they cause it to go dry?!?! I wanted to cry, but didn't - first, because I was more angry than sad, and second - because I couldn't waste the water. Luckily it had rained for part of the afternoon (and continued to drizzle as I stood there) and I hoped I'd find water in pockets in ECC. After about 1.4 miles of walking upstream, I decided it wasn't in the cards that I'd find any water in a pocket in ECC. Luckily shortly after I found a few tinajas. A half liter here, another half liter. My concern over water gradually faded. As it goes, right after finding the last tinaja which topped me off, I found a big pocket in ECC.

Found a great campsite and set up during a brief lapse in the weather. It started up again while I was making dinner and I huddled in the tent listening to the rain come down. It probably stopped raining sometime during the night but was raining again when I woke up at 6 AM. I got up again about 8, but napped until 9 waiting for things to dry out.

Went upstream (or should I say - up dry sandy wash :( ) in ECC to Wilkens Canyon. After a short jaunt up Wilkens it seemed like it would turn into a real thrash, so I took an elk trail up. I ended up doing some moves that elk can't do, but I continued to find elk sign, so they must bypass along a longer route. Got up top and hiked through the junipers. Was quite peaceful, and I spooked another big elk.

Saw a dozen shed antlers and half that many elk. Physical punishment dished out by the canyon wasn't too bad, locust bush is a lightweight compared to catclaw.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max West Fork Willow Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
A few water pockets where the creekbed was scoured really deep in the last flood - most are pretty poor looking and undesirable. No flow in the canyon.

dry Willow Creek Dry Dry
I don't recall seeing any pools below about the East/West Confluence. No flow in the canyon.

Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, ankle-twisting, HAZmaster crushing ROCKS!!
Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, shin-stabbing, skin-shredding plants!
Hike Arizona it is full of striking, biting, stabbing, venomous wildlife!

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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