TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

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bdevlin
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TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by bdevlin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:48 pm

This is a long post but I think it important enough for me to share.

My groups intent was to drive in from Long Barn via 3N01 and 2N05 and hike down to Cherry Creek. It was me, my son (11), and two friends. Let me preface by saying I did rent a PLB for this trip.

We camped at Pinecrest Lake the night before thinking that would provide us an early start hiking in. We all got up late and did not depart until nearly 10AM! The forest road drive proved to take much longer than anticipated making for an even later start. Due to forest road conditions, we decided to choose our alternate route. This meant a longer hike in and adding difficultly finding the spot for our "ideal" route in. We were using GPS to try and help us navigate to some spots we pinned.

After quite a while hiking in, my friend said we were only about a third of the way there. This shocked me and I think perplexed him as well. At this point I should tell you that we saw a lot of bear scat along our way. It was late afternoon at this point. We all had less than half our water left. We kept on for a bit but seemed to not be able to navigate around heavy shrubbery. We ended up being able to get a birds eye view of our destination but the elevation grade to get us there was insane AND at this point we were faced with a massive wall of overgrowth. It seemed clear at that point that GPS failed us and we were not on our hopeful route. I said to my friend, "we screwed up" and gently threw out the notion of turning back. Both friends said they could not make it back to the forest road that was midway back let alone get to the car (oh great!). It was really not that far back. I knew I could get myself and Connor back. With the amount of daylight left and our current bushwhacking pace, the threat of having to camp on that hill was REAL! My friend said "let's see if we can get down to our destination, get water, and regroup. Mind you, they also said they would need two days to hike back out. This all sounded insane to me but I went along with it....sort of. We only went another 20 yards or so and found ourselves deeper into overgrowth. I said "we have to go back". My other buddy took a further look for a way to get through the overgrowth to no avail. Mind you we had very little water at this point, I was bleeding, my friend was bleeding and had a stick go through his shoe into his foot. I turned to him and said, "look at him (my son), there is no way his little legs can bush wack through this stuff". And if they did, there was a VERY real possibility that we would hit an impassable cliff with even less water and little daylight. There was then a suggestion we find a spot on the "hill" to camp, give all our water to my son, and hydrate on the bag of wine my friend had (yikes!). I said again, we have to go back. At this point, there was not a ton of daylight left on this steep hill.

We rested then started back. At the rest, I thought it was the best time to surprise my son with his favorite Ice Cream bar that I had stashed in some dry ice. My friends both still said they would not be able to make it back to the car and thought we needed to find a camp spot. We found a flat area and thought it could work for a camp. As I looked further there was bear scat in several places. Mind you, where we were, building a fire was out of the question due to hazard. Packs went back on ASAP and we soldiered on. We made it to the 1st forest road. My friends then realized if they set their mind to it their bodies were more capable than their minds thought. We soldiered on to the car with about 30 minutes of daylight left and quickly decided to drive out.

After driving out we searched until about 9PM for a campground with vacancy. At this point, I said "there is only so much I can ask of this kid, I'm gonna call it and get a hotel". Myself, I had only had about 400 calories that day so I was starving as well.

Ultimately, water drove much of the decision making. This, I know, you never want to be the case. Had we had more water, more time, and more group stamina, we could have looked for another route. Would I try it again? Absolutely. But only with a severely earlier start, more water, and better GPS preparation.
Last edited by bdevlin on Wed Aug 16, 2017 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.








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bdevlin
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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by bdevlin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:51 pm

Magnum bar!
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kpeter
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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by kpeter » Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:04 pm

How much water were each of you carrying when you started?

Were you trying to get in to the West Fork from the vicinity of Halls Mountain?

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bdevlin
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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by bdevlin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:24 pm

Hells Mountain? Close. South of there on 2N05A around Jawbone pass. There is a large pool at the Cherry Creek and West Fork confluence. That is where we wanted to be. I started with 17oz, my son maybe a bit more plus I had an orange juice stashed for him. The other two guys...not sure but they were down to maybe 10 oz. each. Guessing.

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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by kpeter » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:24 pm

These days I throw a Platypus in my pack with two liters of water (64 ounces) when starting out. It is as much about laziness (about not wanting to have to stop too often to filter) as anything else. Of course water is heavy--that is 4.4 pounds. But I start getting worried when I drop down to a pint. I will normally drink about 6 liters of water a day when backpacking.

I have had friends go up Cherry Creek Canyon from the Shingle Springs area--just contouring cross country around the reservoir and up the canyon. I haven't done it. They indicated that it is definitely a low-water thing to do. There are places you have to cross back and forth to get up the canyon they said.

I also remember Balzacom describing a cross country route to Hyatt Lake on his webpage that takes off a little north of where you were-- from Bourland Creek.
http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home/d ... onora-pass

Those are the two cross country routes into Cherry Creek that I have heard about. Others here may know more in case you decide to go back at some point.

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bdevlin
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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by bdevlin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:24 pm

I am aware of both those routes. I think we had a decent and feasible route picked out for where we wanted to be we just executed very poorly. In theory it should have only been < 2 miles

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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by BillyBobBurro » Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:31 pm

Getting to that part of Cherry Creek can be a very tough hike. I did the same 'route' as you and it was over 3 hours down but one hour up once we found a bunch of ducks marking the 'easy' way. If you are bush wacking then you are on the wrong route. Open granite is your friend.

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bdevlin
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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by bdevlin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:56 pm

BillyBobBurro wrote:Getting to that part of Cherry Creek can be a very tough hike. I did the same 'route' as you and it was over 3 hours down but one hour up once we found a bunch of ducks marking the 'easy' way. If you are bush wacking then you are on the wrong route. Open granite is your friend.
So can I assume your 3 hours down was due to being off the granite and in "the bush"?

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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by BillyBobBurro » Wed Aug 16, 2017 4:39 pm

So can I assume your 3 hours down was due to being off the granite and in "the bush"?
Yep, we were too close to the gully draining down to the big pool below the west and main fork confluence. And are packs might of been weighed down with a bit of beer too.

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bdevlin
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Re: TR: Cherry Creek Canyon

Post by bdevlin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 5:33 pm

BillyBobBurro wrote:
So can I assume your 3 hours down was due to being off the granite and in "the bush"?
Yep, we were too close to the gully draining down to the big pool below the west and main fork confluence. And are packs might of been weighed down with a bit of beer too.
Ha! We were in that gully and I was packing two large craft beers in a DIY dry ice cooler. I think I will pack dry ice every time from here on out given the trip. It lasts quite a while if done right.

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