The Westerners venture east of I-17 to Wet Beaver Creek
June 03, 2022
By Dick Williams
(Cliff and Water) Although it is over 3 miles to the “Crack” on Wet Beaver Creek, your efforts are rewarded with a stellar watering hole. The warmer weather brings out hikers having all kinds of fun.
Today our hiking group was to have the lucky number 13, for we were heading east of I-17 to Bell Trail No.13 and Wet Beaver Creek. Bell Trail, originally built in 1932 by Charles Bell as a cattle trail, is a great alternative to the Red Rocks and includes flat and rocky pathways, trees, cool water, wildlife, and even some historical surprises. On this morning, however, we saw neither cows nor recent evidence of cows.
It was a smaller group today, but everyone had been on the hike before so it was great to get different perspectives, history, and experiences. Lisa and Dan Celeste were our leaders for the adventure. This hike is known for being hot and dry, but today it was cool and really quite enjoyable. We were also going to make a concerted effort to pick up trash on the way back…but more about that later.
After parking in the main parking area, we set off on the trail. The path truly is flat and open for the first few miles, but the last mile makes your body work with some up and down, very rocky sections. In a sense, the trail and terrain make you earn the opportunity to dangle your feet, or your whole body, in the deep and clear pools at the destination affectionately known as the “Crack.” This morning we were the only ones on the pathway, quite an abnormal occurrence, especially since the weather was warming up.
Along the way, Jim Sweeny pointed out a big black rock with lots of lichen on it. At first glance it is just a rock, but closer inspection shows petroglyphs from a previous time. Many of the figures and symbols are familiar, but your mind wanders as to what they were trying to say, and who these messages were ultimately meant for. They are always mesmerizing.
A little farther along, at about 2 ½ miles from the parking lot, another little used gem of a trail, Wier Trail No. 85 (Yes, it is spelled that way), exits to the right. The path takes you on a completely different journey through tall grasses, trees, and boulders to beautiful pools formed by a weir. This weir, operated by the United States Geological Service, monitors the water levels along the creek. There are plenty of places on the ledges to sit, dangle your feet, look for fish, or, just lounge like a lizard. All too soon, however, break time is over and we head back to continue our trek to the Crack.
The Crack, and its pools, are known as a great summer respite for young people and families. Today, however, we have the place almost to ourselves except for a few young men practicing their high-diving abilities. Just watching them climb the walls to make their leaps was fascinating, but one of the young divers performed a back flip that was worthy of the Olympics. The actual Bell Trail continues on down the canyon for another few miles, but we decided to stay here for lunch and watch the fun and youthful exuberance. By now, more people were arriving.
Starting back, we soon encountered a hiker hauling a very large, wheeled cooler on the rocky and steep part of the trail. We did not ask what was in the cooler, but it was a pretty sure bet it was not baby formula. The young man could have probably wheeled the cooler along the flat portions, but it was true dedication to carry it over the rocks. We hope his friends appreciated the refreshments.
Along the way back we decided to pick up trash, each of us trying to fill a grocery bag. This activity was the outgrowth of a hike the previous Sunday at Brins Mesa where we found deflated mylar balloons, water bottles, and some dog poop bags. With greater usage, we are seeing more and more trash along the trails, so we made what difference we could this day. In a very interesting observation, most of the trash was in the middle mile of the trail. There was considerable discussion as to why, but ultimately explanations of why this concentration eluded us.
Back at the parking lot, most of the spots were now filled. We had seen the occupants heading down the trail towards the Crack. Heading home, we reflected on a wonderfully satisfying 7.5 miles, 4-hour adventure. It was a great way to spend a morning.
The Westerners take the summer off, given the heat and many of us scattering to various corners of the United States to hike in cooler climates. Consequently, this will be our last column until we start up again in September. We continue to appreciate the Red Rock News providing a forum to share our escapades.
This was a great hiking season, with over 400 members on the rolls…a fair number of them visitors who joined for only a few weeks at a time. Please see the website, sedonawesterners.org, for information on the new season. We have hiking groups for all interests and abilities, and would love to have you join us in the fall.