The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek

Yes that’s the genuine official name of today’s destination. A valiant joint effort from the dude who named the river, and the other dude who named a section of deepwater plunge pools somewhere up it. I won’t lie to you, its vaguely suggestive naming did play a crucial role in motivating us to visit The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek (i’m going to keep saying it), and it’s certainly what drew me to it on good old Google Maps when I was looking for things to do during our last day in Sedona. Once I’d clicked on it and seen what The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek (ok, i’ll stop) actually had to offer, we were absolutely definitely going there.

From the Airbnb we were staying in, which was our own wee private dude ranch in the absolute middle of desert nowhere (complete with porch swing and nesting black widow spiders), it was about 30 minutes drive through the middle of desert nowhere to get to the trailhead which also happens to be in the middle of desert nowhere.

Not having a trail of its own, The Crack is situated part way along the Bell Trail, an old cattle driving route promising spectacular canyon views and access to the creek. Great. We plastered ourselves with sunscreen and were about to start the 3.5 mile walk, when we passed a sign warning of the dangers of hiking with inadequate hydration and came to the unpleasant realisation that, while we were lucky enough to be in possession of three quarters of a bag of cheese flavoured Ruffles and six cans of Modelo… we had no water. And no bottles to even put water in should we happen to stumble across a source.

Since neither of us were super stoked about the prospect of an hour-long trip to the nearest civilisation and back, it was a welcome relief to discover a guy living in a trailer just up the road. Quite the hero of the moment, this chap poured out about a gallon of glucose solution from the container that he feeds hummingbirds with, and gave it to Alex to refill with water from his outdoor faucet. I’m sure this will be fine…

We hadn’t been on the trail for very long before we took a detour down to the river. Mostly because we were a bit concerned that, this seeming like the driest goddam place on earth, it wouldn’t actually exist. But the sound of rushing water soon dispelled our fears, spurring us on through undergrowth to a spot where we found the river very much alive and well, and perfect for a fully-clothed dip. And a cheeky beer.

Nicely refreshed, and drying off rapidly in the baking Arizona heat, we were delighted when some Forest Service signage confirmed that we were officially entering the Wet Beaver Wilderness. Not many people get to say that without a slap.

This is where the path diverges from the river and starts climbing up the side of the canyon. We plodded on, and after covering what seemed like much more vertical and horizontal distance than we were supposed to for this hike, I was beginning to think that we were on the wrong trail. We were hundreds of feet up from the river, and there were no signs that we’d be heading down any time soon. I mean, the scenery’s beautiful and all but how are we supposed to dive in to The Crack if we’re not getting closer to the river!?!?

The moral of this is just to keep going, because we did eventually begin to descend and were again greeted by the reassuring sound of rushing water, and then we scrambled up some rocks to this. This is The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek:

Truly the swimming hole to meet all your swimming hole needs. There’s cliffs to jump off, boulders to scramble over, smooth slabs to sunbathe on, shallows to wade through, deep pools to plunge into. The water is cold, but the sun is hot, it’s basically deserted, we have beers and a whole day to just hang out. Yussss.

So we swam, drank some beers, jumped off some low rocks, ate some ruffles, caught some lizards, splashed around, then took on the bigger jump. The only thing that could have made the day any more perfect would have been if the water was just a wee bit less chilly.

After we’d leaped off the “diving board” and were feeling very good about ourselves, a group of guys pitched up with a shedload of filming equipment, a slip’n’slide and a unicyle, and began to do throw out some rad moves. They could do some cool flips and shit, and it was great fun to watch, although they did themselves seem slightly more focused on getting good footage for their Youtube channels than actually having max fun. But whatever, they were enjoying themselves flying their drone around, and we got to see a guy jump off a cliff on a unicycle. Which was the icing on the day’s cake, really.

If anybody ever asks you if you want to take the plunge at the Crack at Wet Beaver Creek. Say yes.

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