Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

April 27, 2012

Wet feet are part of the fun on this hike


by Joan Scott & Collaborators

Some Sedona Westerners Hiking Club hikes are more memorable than others, for various reasons: unusual or unexpected weather, new trails, critters, equipment “surprises,” extra-good cookies, or even, on occasion, the antics of a leader. In an early May 2009 article, our writer that week, Marion Hadji-Agha, introduced her article about the West Clear Creek hike by the Mustangs group, led that day be Mickey Gershtenson, with the following comments about his orientation of the group.

“Gershtenson added a few suggestions of his own, which he thought to be very important. To prove that point, he donned a snorkel and mask and mentioned the need for walking sticks for keeping one’s balance during the frequent stream crossings over slippery rocks. A pool float toy would also come in handy for ferrying your pack through the many deep pools that require swimming. A wet suit would protect you somewhat from the extreme cold water, plus passable swimming ability was required. Last but not least, a high tolerance for pain and cold were an absolute must. Needless to say, nobody had wet suits nor pool float toys – but all were equipped with water shoes and the will to have a great day of hiking.” That article was mischievously titled “Ice Axe Necessary for Water Crossings Hike.”

West Clear Creek provides shade and year-around wet-feet hiking. When the trail ends at a cliff on the north side, a water crossing is necessary. Photo by Alan Gore.

This spring, with Pam Greene leading the West Clear Creek hike by the Dogies, the introduction to the hike was more, shall we say, traditional, but with Mickey Gershtenson tailgating, it paid to be watchful. As always, the “will to have a great day of hiking” was a key ingredient for the day.

The Clear Creek trailhead is an hour’s drive south and east from the Village of Oak Creek, so an 8:00 a.m. departure is paramount. The drive includes dirt roads, and fairly high clearance vehicles are useful.

Hadji-Agha's earlier article provided a good description of the creek and canyon: “West Clear Creek is one of many valleys that cut into the Mogollon Rim at the southwest edge of the Colorado Plateau. Most of its twenty five miles are deep and sheer sided, not as colorful as Sedona's red rocks, but still impressive enough because of the year round creek which created lengthy water carved passageways with many long pools, waterfalls, springs and narrows.” It provides a nice change from hiking in red rock country.

Greene and Gershtenson reported the water level this spring to be low. Her previous hike there, said Pam, “it was at flood stage.” They confirmed that even with the low water, there were six water crossings (three in each direction.) Gershtenson described a “challenge” jump-over. “One of the women started it. When she made it OK, others jumped. I had the distinction of the being the oldest jumper this time. It was about a six-foot jump!” (Really, Mickey?) “Well, there was a boulder, and a higher takeoff than landing, Higher to lower helped.”

Easy on and off water shoes help with dry-feet hiking, though some hardy folk, not wanting to bother with toweling, just let the wet shoes squish dry on their feet. That can work on a warm day, but leads to cold toes in cool weather!

The group took lunch break at a “really pretty spot” down by the water, before heading back and getting their feet wet three more times. And they loved it.

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website, for membership information. You may also join at one of our monthly meetings. However, there is no regular meeting in May, due to the annual spring barbecue. The next regular meeting will be in September.