Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Day 11: Hurry Up And Wade
Today's hike was a familiar one: the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon. The trail is notorious for its poison oak and poison ivy, but I learned everything I need to know about poisonous plants years ago on The Simpsons: leaves of three, let it be; leaves of four, eat some more. Aside from the familiar plant life, this trip to the West Fork was different from all the previous visits because I was carrying hard-soled water shoes, which changes everything. I've been desperate to get back here with good water shoes for years, but something always seemed to come up. Last July was monsoon season and the trail was at risk of flash floods; the year before I'd just rolled a rental car off the interstate and was a bit too bandaged to do any water hiking. Today the stars finally aligned, and I attacked the sometimes thigh-deep water like some kind of amphibious amphibian. We were able to make it much further back into the canyon than ever before, and it was far less painful than the time I tried to venture back there in 2007 with flip-flops, which did nothing but cover my feet in blisters. The hike took a total of nine hours, but I have no idea how far I went...the first three miles on dry land went pretty fast, but once the trail went underwater, the pace slowed considerably. Dinner was no slouch tonight, with Mexican food at Oaxaca, whose pronunciation differs dramatically from its spelling...perhaps I'm not picking up Spanish as quickly as I thought. The views from the outdoor patio are unbeatable, and I was there just in time to catch the sunset.