Day 2

October 26, 2016

Surprise Valley Overlook to Deer Creek and Colorado River


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Today's route stats: 

    Distance:  5.0miles

    Elevation Gain:  0 feet

    Elevation Loss:  3300 feet

Ethan had to get back to Flagstaff and so left this morning, returning to his car at Indian Hollow.

Although today would be short on miles, and it would all be on good trails, we had 3300 feet to drop before getting to the Colorado river.  So I was expecting my knees to be screaming.  Since several people had never been to Thunder River, they decided to detour there once we got to Surprise Valley.  So I had plenty of time to go as slowly as I wanted.  And I did. 

Drying Gear in the Morning. Ann-Mariah and Ben at Deer Creek Patio. Ben at Deer Creek Patio.


The views from the trail dropping into Surprise are awesome, but Surprise Valley itself is hot, dry, and uninspiring.  Because I was going so slowly, I was way behind the others.  I often prefer to hike alone so I can go at my own pace and stop, rest and take pictures whenever I feel like it.  I was really hot by the time I got to Deer Creek.  I found Ben there bathing in the stream, but I continued on until reaching the "Patio", a beautiful and friendly area at the beginning of Deer Creek narrows.  We lounged around, taking baths and naps.  Those who detoured to Thunder River arrived after a couple of hours.

Emerging From Deer Creek Narrows. Deer Creek Falls. Beach Camp Down-River From Deer Creek.

After regrouping at the Patio, we walked through Deer Creek Narrows.  There are numerous ancient hand prints on the walls, and the view down into the gorge is impressive.  Once through the narrows, the trail winds its way down to the River and the bottom of the spectacular Deer Creek Falls.

From the falls we headed down-river, looking for a beach large enough for all of us to camp.  We needed to go at least a half mile to get out of the Deer Creek Use Are, for which we did not have a permit.  And that is just about how far we went before stopping for the night.  The beach was fairly small, but adequate.


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