Entering Forty Mile Gulch

John Fowler

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Jan 17, 2012
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I just got back from a few days along HITR. Mostly the purpose of the trip was just to get outside. I wanted to scope out the Forty Mile - Willow circuit for a later hike after the water gets warmer. My plan was to go down Sooner Wash as far as I could easily go to see what it would be like. At the fork before the dryfall I went to the right and after a little bit I could look back and see the dryfall in the canyon behind me. I followed some cairns until they led down a very steep slope into the gulch. At this point I turned around because I wasn't sure I could get down and back up in one piece. I read two reports here by Nick. In the first one he went left at the fork and then found a way down farther after passing the dryfall. On the second one he went right at the fork and descended where (I think) I turned around, calling it a class 4. Am I right about this? What's the best way for a senior-citizen hiker like me to do this?

On another note, if I went down willow to the confluence with 40-mile, which I have done before, how far back up 40-mile could I go before having to turn around?
 

Nick

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Hey John.

You got that right. The first time I went left and actually entered Fortymile from above where Sooner Wash comes in on an unmarked route. The second time, we went down the right and had to hunt around a bit before finally finding a decent way down. It's just barely 4th class though. Maybe upper 3rd? It's a little scrambling down onto two little shelves and then a big slab walk down into the canyon. It looks kinda bad but I think you should be good with it. Good, sticky soles are important. It would also be easily reversible. We tried a little closer to the dryfall and decided we might not be able to make it back out that way. I think this is about where we went in: 37.336904,-111.047219

If you go down Willow and then up Fortymile, you can go as far as you want. Nothing prevents travel up canyon. When you get to the grotto, bypass the waterfall on the left (LUC). Lovely canyon...
 

Nick

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Oh, I should put a little asterisk on that 'nothing prevents travel up canyon' comment. The pools have varied in depth on my two trips through there. The biggest one was like chest deep the first time but I want to say only waist or belly deep second time. It might take a little scrambling to get up over the chokestone above that pool, but I wouldn't think it should be a problem unless it really gets scoured super deep.
 

John Fowler

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Yep, those coordinates you gave are the exact place where I descended about halfway and it looked too steep to go further. I'm not saying I couldn't do it, but when I'm by myself I try to be ultracareful. Next time I'm out there I'll go back and check it more carefully. Thanks.
 

slc_dan

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John Fowler

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Thanks for the photos. It looks quite do-able from the bottom. The photo from the top is exactly what I saw.
 

KC

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May 27, 2015
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Thanks for the photos. It looks quite do-able from the bottom. The photo from the top is exactly what I saw.

I just got back from dropping into Sooner with my 7- and 9-year old. I was a little concerned about getting to the bottom of the wash, as I was not going to take them down a Class 3 or 4 scramble. I found two cairned routes down, and they seemed doable, but slightly dangerous for my kids, so I kept walking along the rim, going east, without yet dropping to the wash.

I eventually found a much easier point to get to the bottom. It's a .8 mile walk beyond the dryfall (turning right/east at the dryfall) (as the crow flies). Here are the coordinates:

N37° 20.303' W111° 02.145'

It was an easy drop.

Distances (as the crow flies) to the drop site we used (going right/east from the dryfall):

.8 mile east from Sooner dryfall
.4 miles east from Sooner/Fortymile Confluence

Hopefully the info is useful to somebody who goes over there. Thanks.
 

John Fowler

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Jan 17, 2012
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217
I just got back from dropping into Sooner with my 7- and 9-year old. I was a little concerned about getting to the bottom of the wash, as I was not going to take them down a Class 3 or 4 scramble. I found two cairned routes down, and they seemed doable, but slightly dangerous for my kids, so I kept walking along the rim, going east, without yet dropping to the wash.

I eventually found a much easier point to get to the bottom. It's a .8 mile walk beyond the dryfall (turning right/east at the dryfall) (as the crow flies). Here are the coordinates:

N37° 20.303' W111° 02.145'

It was an easy drop.

Distances (as the crow flies) to the drop site we used (going right/east from the dryfall):

.8 mile east from Sooner dryfall
.4 miles east from Sooner/Fortymile Confluence

Hopefully the info is useful to somebody who goes over there. Thanks.
Thanks much! I plan to try it when it gets a bit cooler.
 
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