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Friday, October 31, 2014

Boulder hopping up Pumphouse Wash

After watching the airplanes fly around with the model airplane club, we headed north to Oak Creek Canyon.  A few of the places we'd had on our list were Slide Rock State Park, and the West Fork of Oak Creek.  We planned on hitting Slide Rock in the afternoon after it had warmed up a little bit, so made Oak Creek Canyon the first stop on our list.  The place was a zoo.  Literally.  The parking lot was full and cars were backed up onto the highway.  Scratch that.  Plan B- Pumphouse Wash.
Pumphouse Wash is located toward the top of Oak Creek Canyon, off to the east of the highway literally at the base of the switchbacks.  There's a parking spot for 2-3 cars just above the Pumphouse Wash bridge, so we parked there, then scrambled down the hill to get to the wash. No crowds- just the way I like it!
We crossed under the bridge, and headed upstream.  Most of the way was boulder hopping.  The kids did great at it, but they insisted that it wasn't a hike.  They didn't want to go on a hike, but they were ok with going on an "adventure walk".  It's all about the semantics.  I'm ok with adventure walks.  Since it was the Columbus Day weekend, the leaves were changing and the air was a little bit crisp. We didn't get the prime time for colorful leaves, but it was still really pretty. 
The kids almost immediately began to have glorious finds.  A few small lizards were still too lethargic to escape the inquisitive fingers of a 3 year old.  The lizards would be fairly still and content until the body heat radiating from the small hands warmed up the smaller ectothermic (ectothermic means cold blooded) lizard and he'd run away to hide in the rocks. 
Pretty soon, more little discoveries were made.  Baby frogs!  The frogs were really little, and the kids were determined to bring one home.  I'm pretty sure one was hauled a solid 1/4 mile in a little hand.  It took quite a lot of persuasion, but we finally talked the 3 year old into letting the frog go at a small pool in the canyon. 
We made our way upstream until we finally found our way blocked by a deep pool in a narrow spot of the canyon.  Now Pumphouse Wash isn't what I'd call a slot canyon by any means.  It's a narrow canyon, with a few places where it's narrow.  We were about 1/2 mile or so up from the bridge and this was the end of the trail for us. 
We turned around and boulder hopped our way down the canyon.  The fall leaves on the maples and cottonwoods were beautiful as we went.  Pumphouse Wash was a good little hike, adventure walk, boulder hop, or whatever else you might call it.  I wouldn't recommend it for everybody, but if you're looking for something else to do and you're not in a hurry to go anywhere fast, you might give it a try.

Nearest City: Sedona, AZ
Location: Upper end of Oak Creek Canyon, at the base of the switchbacks
Time Needed: varies- several hours at least
Difficulty: moderate-strenuous because of boulder hopping
Kid Friendly: it depends
Additional Info:

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