After our first trip to Hell's Hole, Ron had been looking at his map and had found that from the first time we crossed Workmann Creek to the second time we meet Workmann Creek down in Hell's Hole, there was only 1 mile, if we were walking in the creek. He therefore suggested that we went to Hell's Hole again, this time via Workmann Creek rather than over the mountains. Of course there was no way to tell from a map if there would be any waterfalls, bug rocks, or other that would prevent us from making it to Hell's Hole, but as long as we didn't have to walk over the mountains, and especially up the mountain side from Hell's Hole, we found it worth giving a try.
We left Phoenix Friday afternoon, and like on our first trip, the team consisted of Ron, his son Brad, his dog Spike, James, and me. Like on the first trip we were delayed near Superior, this time not because of a traffic accident, but because of a desert fire which was crossing the road. We watched the fire for 2 1/2 hours before we could finally continue our trip.
It had now already gotten dark, and it was difficult to see where were were driving, however, Ron knew a good place where we could camp, and we managed to find it after lot's of difficulties. We put up our tents and went straight to bed.
On Saturday morning we got up very early and arrived soon at the parking lot where the trail down to Hell's Hole started. We made it over the first little mountain and down into Workmann Creek without to much difficulties, and we immediately changed from walking-over-mountains clothes to walking-in-the-creek clothes. It was only 8 in the morning, and since there should only be 1 mile to Hell's Hole, we thought we would be there by noon.
It was so nice to hike in the creek. It wasn't like hiking over the mountains where the sweat was running off us, and where we had to stop every 100 meters to get a drink. Here in the creek it was so nice and cool. Even though we were walking in the creek on small slippery rocks, we still felt like we kept a good speed.
We soon came to what looked like a little pool surrounded by big boulders. We crawled around the pool on the big boulders, but we felt like we just had to take a closer look at the pool. From the top of one of the boulders, Ron could see several fish swimming around in the pool. I was wondering how cold the water was, and how deep the poll was, and decided to find out. I started walking out into the pool. The water was quite cool, but it was so nice and refreshing. After a few foot steps, the water was up to my nose, and if I wanted to get further out into the pool, I had to swim. And so I did for the first time on that trip.
We continued down through Workmann Creek, and at times it almost felt like a little danish creek, but most of the time we either had to crawl over big boulders, or carefully walk in the edge of another pool. Ron's dog fell behind many times, and it didn't seem like it enjoyed the trip as much as we did.
The hike down the creek was a lot more interesting than hiking over the mountains. The landscape was more varied, and rather than walking among trees, we were now walking in a deep canyon with beautiful rocks and boulders shaped by the water. It was also very exciting not knowing what was ahead. We could run into a waterfall we wouldn't be able to get down through, or some other obstacle which could stop us. What ever would happen, I surely wouldn't be as bad as the mountain side leading back out of Hell's Hole. I was very happy I didn't have to walk up that again.
We had gotten quite far down Workmann Creek. Ron had brought an inner tube which we had used several times. We had had to cross some small pools, and we had all taken off our backpacks, tied them to the inner tube, and swam them to the other side of the pool, one by one. It had been so nice walking for a while, and then swimming a little while. We then came to a little waterfall where we had to make a decision. If we continued down the waterfall, it would not be possible to crawl back up and out of Hell's Hole via Workmann Creek. We would then have to walk over the mountains, and up that steep mountain side. We didn't feel like giving up just because of a waterfall, so despite the steep mountain side leading back out of Hell's Hole, we decided to continue.
The waterfall was about 10 meters high. It was very narrow faling down between two rocks. We figured we could slide down one rock, and then half way down, jump to the other rock, whereby we easily could crawl down. James went first we me following after. We got all our backpacks down safe, and Brad followed after. Now there was only Ron's dog and Ron left. The dog did not seem to fond of having to slide down a rock and then in the middle of everything jump to another one. It headed back up the creek where we had come from. Ron went after it, and he had to drag it by it strap. We tied a rope to the strap, and James was pulling the rope from one side, while Ron was pushing the dog from the other side. The poor dog still wouldn't go, so James and Ron counted to 3 and then almost threw the dog over to the right rock.
As we were walking down the creek we could very often hear a noise sounding like the rattle of a rattle snake. To avoid any problems with rattle snakes, we made sure to make a lot of noise when we went through tall grass or over cracks in the rocks. Were often james called out "Snakes. Go away" to make the snakes escape. About a month later I read in a book, that snakes are def, and when I told James, he got very embarrassed.
After having walked 3-4 hours in the creek, we came to the place where Reynold's Creek runs into Workmann Creek. According to Ron's map, we had now already hiked 2/3 of the way to Hell's Hole. We decided to take a brake, and Ron and James pulled out their fishing tackles and started pulling one fish after the other up out of the water. Where the two creeks were joining, a little pool had been created, and we could clearly see the small fish swimming around having fun; until the were pulled out by Ron or James.
An hour and 9 fish later we continued down Workmann Creek to Hell's Hole. It was now as if it got more difficult to move forward. The boulders seemed to be bigger, the pools seemed to be more frequent, and we thought we could here a lot more rattle snakes. We continued, but the speed went down significantly. At times we had to swim through pools with vertical rock walls, and at times we had to slide down on our behinds, and jump from the boulders down into the pools, without knowing how deep the pool was. At one point we were doing this, and James got in first. The pools were not too deep, the water only reached him to his knees. When I got in, I couldn't stop because of the weight of my backpack, so I continued down into the pool, down on both my knees, as if I was praying. I was very lucky I didn't hurt myself. I got away with only a little bruise on my knee. I then realized that I was not wearing my watch any more. I had lost it somewhere in Workmann Creek. We spend a few minutes looking for it, but we couldn't find it, so we continued down the creek.
It was now past noon, and we still haven't arrived at Hell's Hole. The surounding landscape didn't look too familiar neither, so we started wondering where we were. We thought Hell's Hole would be just around the corner, but every time we turned a corner, it didn't look like Hell's Hole.
It was now in the afternoon, and we were getting tired. In the beginning it had been so nice with a little swim in the pools now and then, but know it seemed as if there were more and more pools, and the water was also unpleasantly cold. The pools were also getting more difficult to cross. Either they were very long, or it was very difficult to get down into them, or back out of them. We got to a pool like this, it was long and narrow with a little rock island in the middle. We had managed to get down from some boulders using ropes and dead trees, and Ron and I was now walking around trying to find a good place to get into the pool, when he suddenly slipped and hit his toe on a rock. The blood was pouring out, but Ron didn't say a word, but taped his toe up so he could continue. I tied my backpack to the inner tube, and slid down with it into the pool. The water felt very cold now. I swam across the pool, untied my backpack, and swam back with the inner tube. It took about 4 trips until all our backpacks was safely on the other side of the pool.
It was now getting late, and the sun was about to set. Since we were walking down in a canyon, it was already getting dark, and we were now seriously wondering if we would make it to Hell's Hole that day at all. When it got dark, we wouldn't be able to continue any further. The last couple of ours, the surrounding landscape had looked quite familiar, and we thought we would arrive in Hell's Hole any time, but we still weren't there. We now started wondering if we maybe had passed Hell's Hole without noticing it, but that seemed very unlikely. It wasn't 2 weeks since we had been there last, so for sure we would be able to recognize it. If we indeed had passed Hell's Hole we would be in big trouble, as there would be 32 miles to the next place where we would be able to get out of the canyon. Realizing we wouldn't be able to make it to Hell's Hole that night, we now started looking for a place to camp. We weren't too happy about that, but Ron's son who was only 9 years old, and his poor dog were too exhausted to continue.
We found a flat spot where some boulders almost had formed a cave. We decided to camp there and disappointedly started to unpack our backpacks. James was standing on a boulder looking searchingly around on the surrounding landscape. "I've found Hell's Hole" he suddenly shouted. "It's just around the corner". We didn't really believe him. We had been thinking that for the last couple of ours, and we had been wrong all the time. But James insisted. Ron definitely didn't want to move now. His son and dog were too tired, and he didn't want to continue down the creek just to find that James was wrong. However, if James was right, it would be a great relief, so James and I decided to check it out before unpacking any further.
It was now completely dark, and there was one pool between where we were and what we thought was Hell's Hole. We had had enough of swimming for that day, so instead of taking the short route through the pool we crawled on all 4 through several bushes in the side of the pool.
Indeed if James wasn't right. Hell's Hole was just around the corner. This was too good to believe. After having hiked in the creek for 12-13 hours we were finally there. What a relief. Now we didn't have to hike and swim down the creek again on Sunday, but we could just take it easy and walk back out. We hurried back to Ron and told him about the good news. First he wouldn't go the last piece, but we finally convinced hime, and a little later we all arrived in Hell's Hole totally exhausted, but very happy that we made it.
We put up our tents and Brad and the dog went directly to bed. James just managed to cook the 9 fish and the beans, and I opened the bottle of wine I had brought. We enjoyed the food, and wine, and Ron went to bed after finishing. It was now 22:00 and completely dark. James and I were lying on the ground looking at the stars enjoying being tired, and enjoying having made it all the way anyway. James suddenly turns to me and says "Jens, I am so tired I can't get up".
When we got out of bed the following morning we were all still very tired. We had breakfast and were ready to leave Hell's Hole at around 9. In front of us was now the steep mountain side which I had said to myself "Never again", and now here I was again. However. After the 13 hours in the creek the day before, this steep mountain side which had been hell two weeks earlier was now only an easy obstacle to over come. I suddenly felt full of energy, and I went up the mountain without any difficulties. James followed a little behind, while Ron and Brad was a little slower. The 5 miles over the two mountains felt like a piece of cake, and I was back out by the van again in no time. What a difference 13 hours in a little creek can make. James and I got something to drink by the van, and heard then something sounding like a pistol shot. Ron had of course brought one of his pistols just in case we should encounter a puma which would like his dog for lunch. We were a little afraid they had gotten into trouble, maybe run out of water and shot in the air as a signal, so I grabbed some water and went back down the trail to look for them. I didn't have to walk far before I saw them. They were happy to get the water I had brought, and we walked the last piece back to the van together.
And that is how our second trip to Hell's Hole ended.