Chuck Mack: Hiking down Muddy Creek on a fall day
Today, we had a wonderful time. We took a combination, sightseeing, fishing, hiking and video-taking, walk, crawl, stumble and fall kind of trip. We walked down Muddy Creek about five miles. It is beautiful all the way.
When you first leave the Buffalo Park Road, the creek runs along on top of a solid rock ledge, and it has worn deep holes here and there. A little further downstream, it gets steeper and a lot of large rocks are in the creek bed. The creek runs around and over them and these rocks are worn as smooth as glass.
About a mile down the creek you come to a flume where water is taken out of the creek. At this point the creek really starts to fall in a mad rush to the valley floor below, which is about a mile away.
The canyon walls sometimes are straight up and down and solid rock and not as wide as they are deep. Other places, the canyon is wider and the walls are eroded away until it is a combination of shale and beautiful rock formations, and the willows and aspen, which grow along the creek bank in the bottom of the canyon, were all decked out in their bright autumn colors.
When we reached the flume, we followed it along the canyon wall, since it was much easier to walk.
The flume is a large, metal pipe, about three feet in diameter. It is about 1/3 mile in length. A lot of blasting of solid rock was done to make a place to lay the pipe, and I never saw so many bends and curves in all my life. The flume empties into an irrigation ditch.
From this point to the valley floor, the walking is much easier, since you are quite a ways from the canyon rim.
When you reach the valley floor, you come to another tiny creek with lots of beaver dams.
This little creek isn’t very long – it heads at the upper end of the valley, which is less than 1/4 mile from where Muddy Creek canyon reaches the valley floor.
We started fishing when we reached this point. We saw lots of real nice, pan-sized brook trout, but the water is so clear and shallow that the fish can see you a long time before you get to the creek. You have to find a spot where you can sneak up behind some willows without being seen.
We fished about two miles down Muddy Creek and caught 16 nice fish.
The valley is mostly wide and sloping with pine and aspen on the west side, which is the steepest, the east side being much more sloping with mostly sage brush and scattered pockets of timber. Several springs run from the east slope and find their way to the creek. These are real willow thickets.
After we caught our fish, we started walking along the hillside above the creek and followed the creek back to the canyon. This way, we had a little elevation where we could look down on the creek. After making its maddening rush down off the mountain, the creek settles down and runs leisurely through the valley, sometimes making large quiet pools and other times rippling along over a rocky bottom. We took a video of all the pretty sights.
When we walked up the canyon, we stayed out close to the rim so we could see what we had missed on the way down. Hopefully we have it all on video.
I’m glad I was able to make this trip while I’m still able to walk, stumble, crawl and fall, because there is no other way to go.
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