Bull Valley Gorge, Pt. 2
So last week we left off with Randi and I’s second visit to Bull Valley Gorge and a promise to return and explore deeper and find out just where the gorge ends. This time we came prepared and planned to spend the night miles down canyon from anything we had experienced thus far. We headed into Bull Valley Gorge with packs on our backs and adventure on our minds.
While examining our topo map in advance of the trip I had noticed that several miles down canyon the gorge met up with Sheep Creek. From there we could follow Sheep Creek up creek a few miles to where Willis Creek flowed into it. There we could hike back up Willis Creek to the trailhead on Skutumpah road making for a nice fifteen-mile, two-day hike.
With this plan in mind we made our way into the gorge from the trailhead and sought out the secrets of Bull Valley Gorge. The canyon continued to grow deeper as we continued past those spots we had ventured to in the past. Trekking down the floor of the canyon in a full pack proved to be slow going. Even when there weren’t log and rock jams to descend, the dry creek bed was covered in rocks of all shapes and sizes.
After a couple miles, the gorge opened up into a deep valley with the benches rising up a couple hundred feet on either side. We made our way down this beautiful expanse until we reached Sheep Creek some eight miles down canyon. From there we started up creek until we found a campsite and made camp for the night.
We learned an important lesson about the importance of water in the desert. Our hydration packs were getting low on water so we needed to refill them from the creek. We were so wiped out that night from our hike in, we decided to fill them in the morning. Much to our chagrin, when we went to the creek in the morning to fill the bladders there was no creek. Sometime during the night, it had dried up. We made a note to ourselves to refill the water when it was present in the future. We headed toward Willis Creek and were greatly relieved to see the creek making its way to us a short time later. We found out later that ranchers dam the creek at night to water herds and release it again in the morning.
We found this overnight trip to be one of the most enjoyable excursions of our trip and were not disappointed with the beauty and solitude that the area afforded. When we found Willis Creek we also found people. Being a holiday weekend, there was an abundance of people. The one advantage of the multitude of people was that once we got back to the Willis Creek trailhead I was able to hitch a ride back to our vehicle that we had left at the Bull Valley Gorge trailhead. Randi and the boys soaked their feet in Willis Creek and refilled the water bladders. Up creek from the foot soaking, of course.
Here’s a short video of some of the sights from the hike. Enjoy!
Have a great week and find some adventure.