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2016 June Sierra Hike

Paradise Valley and Woods Creek then steep off trail up to Window Creek and Arrow Creek drainage

Young deer scuffles with two large coyotes

This is a work in progress


I read of Charles Hayden's adventures in 1990 and 2000 going down Arrow Creek. I have passed Arrow creek many times and it always looked so terribly steep that I never thought I could get down. But, I thought I would at least look. Wally indicated that he would be interested in a short but non-strenuous hike; so we thought he could accompany me for the first few days and then turn around while I proceeded with my Arrow adventure.


This turned out to be one of the more enjoyable Sierra trips I have taken. It was a relatively quick transition from a very popular trail into some gorgeous scenery and a delightful off-trail experience.
It started out kinda slow. I forgot to fill up on gas before driving out to the Cedar Grove campground we stayed at overnight. With my gas light blinking I thought it best to get gas while Wally was still around to give me a lift. So we spent a good chunk of the morning driving out to the nearest gas station and back. About three hours. We got a late start.


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Despite the late start, the views stayed around for us. This is looking back down Paradise valley. We camped at Lower Paradise valley. The campground was picked over, and we got the last site, the one nobody else wanted. At least we got one; there were a lot of later folks that just had to hike on.


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The next day we arrived at the bridge over the Kings river, just above where it meets Woods creek. That's Wally at the far end. The first time I crossed the river (2002) there were just logs.


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We camped that night a little bit up along Woods creek at a single campsite near the trail. The site boasted a large rock table which was so convenient for preparing food and looking at maps.


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I was experimenting with no-cook food, but I brought along a home-made water heater made from nested aluminum cans to heat my morning coffee. A cone shaped wire mesh at the bottom centered a lit Coghlan's solid fuel hexamine tablet. One 7g tablet takes 300 ml of water to 50+ degrees C. Coghlan's are half the size of Esbit (14g) tablets. If you look closely you can see some steam coming off.


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The next day I continued on alone as Wally returned to other appointments. It wasn't very far to Window Creek. I grabbed two sticks (I had left my hiking pole at home) and crossed the stream. I then started up through some recently (July 2012) burned woods. It was steep, but doable.


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This is the view looking down the same slope. You can see your way a lot better going up. Here, it just drops off and you can't see the easiest way down. That is why I like to climb up a steep unknown slope before I try going down.


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Once you crest the slope there is a large area with many flat spots suitable for campsites. I picked one. The views here are lovely.


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The next day I continued on up the valley intending on going over the pass at the far end. This is a south-facing climb; so the slope on the other side of Woods creek is north-facing. Consequently, it was draped in snow that hadn't melted by mid-June. Just so awesome in the clear morning air! Unfortunately, the snow also blocked the pass (at about 11K feet). So I contoured down the west side of the valley until I got to a saddle, then hopped over and down into the Arrow creek drainage.


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The Arrow creek valley is clean, beautiful, and isolated. There are fish in the creek. Here the valley flattens out a bit so the creek gets wide and slow.


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I put up my poncho tent just to feel comfortable. It wasn't really needed since the weather fully cooperated for the entire trip.


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The next day I explored the upper regions of the creek. This is near the highpoint of my trip up the valley (10.7K feet). You can see the north-facing slopes have the snow, while the south-facing side is snow-free.


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The deer peeking at me, all the way to the right in the picture, was also turning his ears to a pair of coyotes. Two large, grey, healthy coyotes with huge fluffy tails were harassing the deer, one at its head, and the other at its tail. At first I thought the deer might be at a disadvantage; but the coyote in front did not want anything to do with the deer's sharp hoofs. He ducked and the deer scampered away over the rocks and up the hill.


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The way back down was delightful. I ran into a sierra grouse that flapped away in one direction; and a few moments later, almost from under my foot, her tiny fledgling darted off in another. This peaceful pool has fish.


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I hiked down to the western edge of the valley in the afternoon. You can see it beginning to roll off sharply in the picture. I thought it would be too dangerous to attempt this time, so I camped a bit back up the valley.


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The next day I hiked back over the saddle between Arrow creek and Window creek and then proceeded down the steep (picture) slope to Woods creek. I stopped for the night at the Upper Paradise Valley campground. .


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The next morning it was an easy downhill hike to the trailhead. 'No Parking or Standing'. The new sign seems to be a bit overreaching. I drove out and got to Apple Annie's on hwy. 99 just before 2PM. Had a California Omelette before heading the rest of the way home. Home at 7PM.

©2016, 2017 Tom Judd.
Carlsbad, CA