Backpacking Webber Creek

Hope, Chappie and I were able to experience our first backpacking trip about three weeks ago. We geared up with our 30 pound pack and our friends, Kerri and Goose, and headed out into the wilderness near the Mogollon Rim and Camp Geronimo. We wanted to make sure we shared not only our experience with our readers but also how to plan and successfully execute an overnight backpacking adventure. Hang on tight, here we go!

Our morning started out before sunrise when we got on the road at 5:30 in the morning. Our trail head was about a 2 hour drive from my home in Apache Junction. After a quick pit stop in Payson, we continued up the mountain to our turn off on a clearly marked fire “control road” on the right hand side of the 260 highway. Driving back towards Webber Creek you will see Juniper and Pine trees and as you get closer to the creek, you will find all sorts of lush, dense, beautiful scenery. Blackberry bushes lined the side of the road where we parked and prepared to make our trek.

We got lucky, because the Boy Scout Camp nearby (Camp Geronimo) was not fully functioning that weekend and we were able to shave off about 3 miles by cutting through the camp as opposed to weaving around numerous switchbacks on the mountainside near by. After we made it up our first real incline, it was time to sit on a log near by. I can honestly say carrying 30 pounds up a hill for the first time was very strenuous! We continued on, climbed another incline and were greeted with fairly fresh bear scat/paw prints on the ground. Needless to say, we got to walking at a faster pace. That area at the top of the hill must have been a hot spot for animals because there was a strong scent of elk urine as well. We were sure we would see some sort of large wildlife, but never did.

backpacking
P.C. Kerri Irwin of Dusty Desert Dogs

We stopped at a beautiful little clearing next to the creek for some photos, a snack, and to rest our backs. The dogs played in the creek & ate plenty of treats! We debated stopping here for the night, as Kerri had stayed here before with a group of our friends, but we were concerned with it being right on the trail, and Kerri’s interest in what was beyond that point pushed us on a few miles further. The trail soon went from clear and open to dense and congested. We had to scramble over several downed trees, one of which, we had to take our packs off, climb over the behemoth and put our packs back on. We crossed the creek a couple times more and when we came to the clearing that would soon become our campsite, we knew all our hard work was worth it.

 

_mg_3907
Our Campsite Near the Creek

Our campsite was a stones throw away from the creek and hidden from the trail in some immature blackberry bushes. We were able to quickly walk to the creek to filter our water, let the dogs drink/play, wash our dishes, and take photos. The only downside to our camp was finding out the ground was slightly slanted and enough so that we were constantly sliding down in our sleeping bags/tents overnight. Once camp was set up, it was nap time! A light rain lulled us off to sleep for about an hour and when we woke, it was time to head down to the creek to filter water with our Sawyer Water Filtration Systems. We walked about 1/4 of a mile (maybe) from camp and found a cute little swimming hole and perfect spot to filter water. Once we finished that, we took photos, explored around our camp, and then it was time for dinner.

img_3923
The “Imming Hole” We laugh about this photo still today.

We brought our little “pocket stoves” along on this trip. They can fit in the palm of your hand and work with isobutane fuel to heat your water to boiling in less than 3 minutes. I made my Mountain House Lasagna dinner and Kerri had her Mountain House Pasta Primevera. This was my first time having a meal out of a bag and it did not disappoint! After dinner, we unpacked our packs of all our food and smelly items so we could put them in a “bear bag” and hang them away from camp. Kerri took the bag and hung it about 1/8th of a mile from camp, in a tree that had arched over. After some hot chocolate and time by our campfire it was time for bed. We were both exhausted!

img_3990
Dinnertime was so much fun! Everything was wet from the rain so it was harder to keep a fire going.

After what felt like the longest night ever, the sun woke up and morning arrived. Kerri and I discussed how our nights went and if we had both heard the ape like sound off in the not too far distance. “What was a monkey doing in the woods?” we wondered! We found we both kept sliding down thanks to the slight incline we were on. I had issues with keeping myself warm thanks to my lovely pups trying to get into my sleeping bag and pulling it off. Thank goodness for the extra, light-weight, fleece blanket I had brought. It was a life-saver along with my base layers, long socks, and hood on my Columbia fleece hoodie. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal and hot cocoa for us and kibble for the dogs. We let the dogs lick our bowls clean of any remaining oats. Who wants to do dishes before full sunrise? After retrieving our bear bag (that Kerri found was untouched, thank goodness!) we started packing up camp so it was ready to go when we were. We decided to head past the swimming hole without our packs and venture on towards the natural spring that was higher up on the mountain.

img_4115
Good Morning Sun! Your warmth feels amazing after a chilly night!

Our trek up to the natural spring was beautiful. We were able to climb right up to it, take some beautiful photos and look out over the area we had hiked to get as far as we had. The view was breathtaking. After taking some photos, we found it was about 10:30 and decided it was time to head back. The rain storm from the day before had come in around 1:30 so that was our goal to be back to the truck by.

img_4172
The beautiful, natural spring.

We hiked a good 3/4 of the way back and stopped next to the creek for some lunch and, why not, some additional photos. After packing up all our trash from lunch, we continued on our way towards the road leading into the boy scout camp. We got to the bridge that crossed Webber Creek and made sure to take some photos there as well. As soon as we packed up, we started to feel a mist coming from the sky! We hadn’t even really noticed the clouds that had come in. We made a mad dash to the truck and thankfully got all our gear, our pups and ourselves in the truck before it really started raining hard! What a rush! After we got back into town, we pigged out on some Taco Bell. Amazing what 48 hours in the woods eating Ramen, Tuna, and bagged meals can do to a person!

img_4245
Red leaves are my absolute favorite.

This overnight trip was successful for so many reasons. Being prepared, bringing the right gear, timing, knowing our surroundings, and having great company. So what do you need to have a great backpacking trip? Well, we recommend the following:

  • Plan Ahead – Kerri and I started planning for this trip about 2 months in advance.We had a couple last minute diversions from the original plan but the core of our trip remained a go! We mapped things out, planned our departure times, and did several gear and weather checks throughout the weeks prior to the trip.
  • Pack Light (Or as light as you can!) – We know, lightweight, backpacking gear can be expensive. We definitely did not have the lightest gear but it was all at least rated for backpacking trip use. If you are going near a body of water and can filter water, that will save you a couple of pounds easy because you won’t have to worry about carrying so much water in. You can find a lot of discounted, lightweight gear at Sierra Trading Post along with SO many other amazing products at a fraction of the price.
  • Purchase a Decent Pack – If you can’t get the lightest gear on the market, at least invest in a quality backpacking pack. The internal frame of these packs will save your back a ton of grief. Kerri carried a Gregory Amber pack and I carried a Teton Hiker 3700. Both packs performed well, came with a rain cover and had plenty of room for storage.
  • Food/Cooking/Storage – Lightweight foods do exist! We brought foods like Ramen, protein bars, pita bread, tuna pouches, oatmeal and our single Mountain House meals. We saved our larger meal for dinner and had the smaller “meals” during the day. I would estimate all of my food weighed about a pound. We each had our pocket stoves to heat our water for our meals. Those break down easily and are stored inside our cooking pots for added storage space. Remember to bring a bear bag and do not leave any food sitting out anywhere. We can certainly owe it to our bear bag being hung away from camp for keeping any wildlife from coming around us at night. I brought light weight, hard plastic utensils that were easy to use and wash.
  • Clothing- Dress in layers! If you get warm, you can always dress down. We knew it was going to drop down into the low 40’s at night so we made sure to bring base layers, and long socks and layer them under our clothes at night. We did bring gloves, and a warm fleece jacket as well. Rain wear is a must, even if no rain is in the forecast. Weather is unpredictable! Don’t forget a hat of some kind to protect your head/face from the sun. I wore my mid-high hiking boots and brought some water shoes to wear around camp because nothing feels better than taking off your boots after a long day on the trail.
  • 10 Essentials – Make sure you have these before you go. A Map or Compass, sunscreen, extra clothing, head lamp or flash light, first aid supplies, matches, food, hydration (water and/or water filtration supplies), emergency shelter and a small repair kit (for patching holes in a tent, rain cover, etc).
  • Organize your pack appropriately – I learned quickly (thanks to Kerri!) there is a right and wrong way to load your pack. Heavy in the back, light in the front, and items you won’t use til you set up camp towards the bottom, while items you might need on the trail need to be at the top. Tent posts go on the sides of your pack and the sleeping bag in the very bottom. My sleeping pad I strapped to the front of my pack. If you have a well organized, well fitting pack, it will carry on your back so much easier. The pack should fit pretty snugly and it shouldn’t shift around much when you walk. The “brain” of the pack usually rises above your head and the waist straps should help the pack sit sung on your hips. Make sure to use those compression straps! I cant tell you how much room I made in my pack thanks to those straps. They sell compression sacks at most retailers so you can stuff your food, sleeping bag, clothes, etc in one.
  • Traveling with pets – If your pup is big enough, get him a pack to carry his food and a couple small water bladders in. If your pup is small, then the food/water is your duty to carry! A harness/pack with a handle is recommended and we love Ruffwear gear! Goose wore a pack made by Hurtta, who also has great adventure dog gear. We also think bringing treats along for motivation and mid day snacks is a good idea. Zuke’s makes these amazing treats called Power Bones. They are an all natural treat, with great sources of energy for our active pups!
img_4255
Thirty pounds is still heavy, but thanks to good organization and a reliable pack, my back didn’t hurt as bad as it could have! P.C. Kerri Irwin of Dusty Desert Dogs

We can’t wait until our next backpacking trip! This was a first for not only myself but my pups as well. Chappie was about 3 months old at the time and I was amazed at how well he did keeping up with Hope and Goose. We hope that our experience has inspired you to plan a trip of your own soon and that our tips will help you have a successful, enjoyable time! Remember to pack out what you pack in and be mindful of your surroundings at all times. Bringing a form of protection is always a great idea and we never recommend backpacking alone but that is just our opinion! We know many people that do and are successful. But being a 5’2 woman with two smaller dogs, I like to always have my adventure buddies by my side! Not only for safety, but because we make so many great memories together AND with our pups.

You can check out the gear we used for us and the pups on these sites:

Happy Trails Everyone!

Advertisements

39 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks like such a fun adventure and the pictures are adorable!

    Like

    1. Thank you! It was a blast. We can’t wait to do it again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kim says:

    Do you let the dogs off lead on the trail?
    Looks like so much fun

    Like

    1. After our incident with Hope getting bit by a Rattlesnake, we are much more cautious about letting our pups off leash, if we let them off at all. The entire time we were hiking, dogs were on leash. When we would get to the creek, or were in our camp site we let them off leash. The daytime weather was about 65 degrees on the rim and low 40’s at night so, it was highly unlikely we would see a snake, but we were always on the look out! I even slept with their leashes on and had them wrapped around my wrist lol not taking any chances! It was so much fun!

      Like

    2. I guess I should add in too that sometimes we pose them for a photo on the trail and take their leashes off for the photo but put them back on. I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Snake Disorder) and am like an overprotective mother now lol

      Like

  3. Wow! My brother-in-law tried backpacking with one dog and he had a rough time. I admire you were able to do it with three.

    Like

    1. It was great. But was not without its challenges! Chappie being a puppy meant he was still learning leash walking etiquette. He also did not like being behind Goose so would bark at him off and on while we were hiking to and from our camp site haha. I have always had 3+ dogs growing up so I have had plenty of practice πŸ˜‰

      Like

  4. What beautiful scenery – I love hearing about pups who are living the good life and having adventures with their family.

    Like

    1. The scenery was so great! I am so glad Kerri knew about this place and we decided to travel further back into the denser part of the woods. It reminded me of photos I have seen of parts of Oregon. Our pups are definitely spoiled and live an adventurous life. They love it and we love seeing them enjoying it!

      Like

  5. What a beautiful hike! I am looking forward to doing some fall hikes with my two as well!

    Like

    1. It was beautiful! Fall hikes are the best. So many different colors, cooler weather, and best of all…all the snakes are long gone haha.

      Like

  6. dustydesertdogs says:

    Such a fun trip! I cant wait till we can go back.

    Like

    1. Me too! I’m so glad you knew about this place and insisted we go further. It was totally worth going over those mammoth sized logs! haha

      Like

  7. hbethp says:

    I enjoyed reading about your adventure, and what beautiful scenery. Sounds like the perfect spot for me to decompress. How fun to hike with the cuties!! My days out are a nightmare to organise, but backpacking!! Well done to you.

    Like

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! It definitely was one of those places that is perfect to go to and unwind. So peaceful. We were so organized because we started planning like 2 months out..didn’t want to forget anything!

      Like

  8. Ruth Epstein says:

    What an amazing adventure, wow would I love to do one too with Layla

    Like

    1. It was pretty amazing and I can’t wait to go again, Ruth! I’m sure Layla would love to go, I know my dogs had a fabulous time and slept like babies afterwards πŸ˜‰

      Like

  9. A decent pack is so important. I did some trips 20 years ago with a not so great pack (and also overpacked) and it really did some long term damage to my back. Great pictures.

    Like

    1. Definitely! Not that my back wasn’t sore afterwards (because it totally was! lol) but I know it could have been worse. I’m 5’2 and carrying a 30lb pack was a challenge. The fact that I did it successfully was enough to tell me I had a great pack helping me carry the weight. Take care of your back =)

      Like

  10. Jana Rade says:

    Beautiful place. I bet our guys would love hiking there too.

    Like

    1. I bet they would! My dogs loved it. Always something new around the corner to check out. =)

      Like

  11. Joely Smith says:

    Absolutely stunning photos! There is nothing better than a natural stream of water is there?! Loved your tips and hope I can use them someday in a hiking and camping trip of my own.

    Like

    1. Aw thank you Joely! Yes, the natural spring was gorgeous and the water we filtered out of it was delicious! Glad you liked my tips and I hope you can use them and get out on the trail soon! Adventure is out there!

      Like

  12. Robin says:

    Such a fun adventure! You couldn’t have picked a more beautiful place to stay the night. It sounds like all of the preparation was worth it. πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. It was totally worth it Robin. I am so glad I have friends who push me forward. If Kerri hadn’t, we might not have gone that far, nor found our little spot!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, what an adventure. Brave taking a puppy with you and carrying 30lbs. Looks beautiful. Good tips for a successful trip.

    Like

    1. I have had a few people tell me I am brave for taking a pup and carrying a big pack, so thank you! I have 2 daughters so I get plenty of practice on handling a circus haha. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  14. Cathy Armato says:

    What a great post, thanks for sharing your amazing backpack experience & all this helpful detail! I’ve never done a backpacking trip like this but it soundssounds so fun!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Like

    1. You are so welcome, Cathy! In the words of my friend, Kerri, “Backpacking is not glamorous by any means” but it is so worth it. The sights you see, the experiences you get to go through, and the feeling of accomplishment at the end. So great!

      Like

  15. raisingyourpetsnaturally says:

    Wow! Now that’s an adventure. I’m glad ou guys had a good time and great photos.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! It was quite the adventure for sure!

      Like

  16. Golden Daily Scoop says:

    That looks like quite the adventure. There is nothing better than spending time with nature and your dogs! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    1. Agreed 100%! You’re welcome =)

      Like

  17. FiveSibesMom says:

    I just love the “imming hole” picture! Love the expressions! Great post – with lots of terrific info & pics! We’re not campers, but have lots of friends who do! Pinning on my “Bark About” board!

    Like

    1. Aw thanks so much! Glad you found the post to be full of good information and enjoyed our photos! One day, I will have a go-pro and I can share video of our adventures as well =)

      Like

  18. We haven’t done any backpacking with Mr. N, just day trips. I think he’d like it though.

    Like

    1. Our pups hike a lot but this was Hope and Chappie’s first backpacking trip. They had a blast, and I think Mr. N would too! But Mr N would probably sleep the whole ride home and then some…just like our pups did πŸ˜‰

      Like

  19. Absolutely gorgeous photos! I love the layout of your blog as well! Very different from the norm!

    Like

    1. I am glad you like the photos and layout! I really like it too when I was setting up my blog. It looked so clean and organized to me. Thanks for the feedback!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s