Day 5

April 4, 2012

Vishnu Creek to Clear Creek via Angels Gate

I was expecting today to be the hardest day for me, and certainly the most technical.  The route involves climbing up to the Redwall saddle north of Hall Butte, then contouring along the top of the Redwall to the saddle between Angels Gate and Wotans Throne, and finally the descent to the east fork of Clear Creek.  This last descent was expected to be the most difficult.  

We got up early and ate breakfast just as it was starting to get light.  We started walking up canyon around 6:45.  I was carrying 3-1/2 liters of water.  After a couple hundred yards we began climbing out of the canyon, then slowly contoured into the drainage that we would follow to the saddle. 

Looking Down Towards Vishnu Creek

Ben with Newberry Saddle in Background

Climbing Towards Hall Butte Saddle

The climb to the saddle was on loose debris.  The shallow drainage we were following had flowing water until we reached the Muav.  We had to be constantly vigilant to avoid knocking rocks down on those below.  We hiked slowly but steadily and reached the saddle in about 2-1/2 hours, a climb of about 1300 feet.   The views from the saddle were awesome.

Hall Butte from Saddle

Angels Gate Saddle from Hall Saddle

Angels Gate

The hike along the top of the Redwall was beautiful and spectacular, with lots of wonderful views.  But it was a little slow going, with more ups and downs and ins and outs than I expected.  It took us 3 hours to get to Angels Gate saddle.  We took a long break at the saddle, then we all wandered around a bit, looking at the route in front of us.  It started out steep and got steeper farther down so that we couldn't see the steepest part from the saddle. 

Group Rest Break on Saddle

View Towards Clear Creek

Looking Down at Our Route

The climb down started out easy enough, but soon became much more difficult.  We had to lower packs in several places.  Instead of using webbing, we made a sort-of "bucket brigade" to shuttle down the packs.  There were lots of loose rocks and the going was very slow.  Although the climbing was not technical, the exposure was serious.  We managed to get through the difficult places without having to belay anyone or use any webbing.

Starting Down

Pondering a Difficult Downclimb

View Back Towards the Saddle

Once we got below the cliff face, there were still several obstacles to deal with before the route leveled out as we approached the Tonto.  Once we were on reasonable slope, we got out of the drainage to the right where the going was much easier.  We continued to contour to the right as we approached the east fork of Clear Creek.  The drop into Clear Creek was precipitous so we contoured along the rim until we found a way down.

View Towards Clear Creek

View Back to Saddle

Looking for a Way into East Clear Creek

The east fork of Clear Creek was very pretty, with lots of Redbuds in bloom.  The creek was dry where we entered, so we continued to hike down stream.  At around 5:00, after about a mile of hiking, we came to a large spring area.   It was a gorgeous area, but the camping was marginal.  Because of my snoring, I always need to find a spot at least a couple hundred feet away from the others.  It was hard for me to find a decent spot, but I managed. 

East Fork of Clear Creek

East Fork of Clear Creek

Spring Area in East Fork of Clear Creek

We were having some stove problems and it took a very long time to prepare dinner.  By the time we finished dinner it was dark.  I was very tired and went to bed immediately after eating.  I listened to a bit of David Sedaris before being lulled to sleep by the croaking frogs.  

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