Jun 25, 2010

Apache Lake/ Alder Creek Wash/Brown's Cave

I took a mental health day yesterday, but in Phoenix this time of year you need to get up at an insane hour to get some outdoor play time in.

I got up at 3:30 am and was on the road at 3:45, as I had my kayak stuff all loaded up the night before. My plan was to drive up to Apache Lake (two hours away from my house in Phoenix) and do little paddling and hiking exploration.

I was on the water at 6:00 am, and the temps weren't all that cool. Perhaps the temperature was 80 degrees, but it was fairly gusty. Luckily the wind was gonna be blowing me in the direction I wanted to go, and my hopes were that as the temperatures climbed and settled that the winds would die down for my return trip. And they did.

After reading about this trip report about Brown's Cave, I decided to see if I could duplicate this adventure. Instead of heading staying on the south shore of the lake, I darted across the lake to the north shore, anticipating that I'd might catch a glimpse of some Big Horn Sheep, and I was rewarded almost immediately. Directly across the lake form Crabtree Wash, where I put in, and down about a half mile, I spotted a single sheep way, way up on the bluffs. The cliffs I was paddling under were very tall and steep, so the sheep got out view very quickly. I continued west on down the north shore, and about 2 miles down the lake I spotted another big group of sheep between Ash Creek Bay and Alder Creek. They're were several up pretty high, but then I notice one a couple hundred feet above me. The horns weren't very big on these sheep, and there were a number kids running with this flock, so I suppose the bigger ones were all ewes. I believe the rams and ewes run in separate crews until mating season. Although the I didn't get a very good view of the horns on the first one, it was very big animal, and very well might have been a ram. I am easily amused, so I thought this was pretty kewl. I think I know what to spot these animals now. In the future I will look for isolated cliffs, that will offer the flock some habitat protection, and then I will scan the the hillside for a big white hiney moving about.

At 8:00 I arrived at Alder Creek Bay, it shouldn't have really taken that long, but I took my time and shot a bunch of video.

From there I tucked my kayak way, and started walking up the dry creek bed. I was kinda creaped out because a rattlesnake could very well be hiding behind each and every rock, but I didn't see one on my entire hike. Phew!

According to the Brown's Cave trip report I alluded to earlier, I need to head up the wash and about .5 miles I would run into a waterfall. Although the wash started off dry, about .1 mile up from the lake there was actually water coming down, and the amount water coming down the creek built up in volume as I climbed up the wash. I was actually surprised to see water, considering it has been a very, very long time since we've had significant rain. The wide and dry river rock turned into really, really kewl box canyon that had narrow rock walls. Very scenic and confining.

I made it up to the waterfall,and I was rather impressed. You can actually go behind the waterfall. Neato!

I ended up finding a rope to the west (left hand side) of the water fall that I used to climb up to the top. I continued up the creek and followed the rock cairns, which were kinda helpful as the was splits into two about .1 mile past the water fall. Stick to the left. The instructions I had said the cave was about .3 mile past the waterfall, and I found the barbed wire fence on the east side (right hand side) of the creek bed. And as mentioned, it really isn't a cave, but more of an overhang.

The hike up took me couple hours, as I took my time to carefully climb up the boulders and shoot some video. Coming down took me about 45 minutes. I ended up gaining 400 to 500 vf of elevation above the lake. The lake sits at about 1,900 vf and some of the surrounding peaks are as high as 4,000 vf. And the nearby Four Peaks, climb as high as 7,600 feet.

I got back to my boat, and ate some lunch before paddling the 5 miles back to my car. It was pretty hot, but not entirely miserable. When I actually pulled back into parking lot, it was 1:00 and was well over 100 degrees.

Very fun adventure.

If you have the Google Earth on your computer, here is an interactive map of my tour route: Apache Lake/Alder Creek Wash

Here's a vid of the day:

And here is a higher quality (Quicktime) version (note: it will take a few minutes to download):

If you have the Google Earth on your computer, here is an interactive map of my tour route:


Anonymous said...

Great video....wish I could have done it with you....but I think your solo video's are better....much more introspective....but perhaps I'm projecting!

u2metoo said...

...thanks, man. Yeah, this was one of those, 'I'm not sure what is gonna happen excursions'.

We'll haveta pack up the kayak and hiking shoes to head back on out there.

As for the video, I haveta rely on the vanity shots to keep it interesting. ahahaha