The struggle to get to Tonto Creek and Christopher Creek from Hwy 260. There are various ways to get onto these streams, we decided to take a different route after looking at a bunch of Topography maps and Google earth. Big mistake!!
We were looking for a quicker way to get to the confluence, rather than walking down Tonto creek as it does get very over grown in the summer, with a lot of scrambling up and down and around cliff faces.
We ended up in going in over a ridge that is between the Quarry entrance and Tontozona camp entrance. There is a jeep trail that follows the power lines on top of the ridge, unfortunately it is fenced off with a locked gate. So you walk in under the lines on top of the ridge that runs between these two creeks. At the end of the dirt road you have to chose between going down a very steep rock slope face that is all crumbling rocks and shale, very slippery into Christopher creek then walking down the creek which merges into Tonto creek.
Or dropping off to the side heading down into Tonto creek, looking for any animal trails you can find that takes you through small trees,bushes, cactus and shrubs, all that cut ,prick or rip your skin. Doing this all on a very steep incline with again slippery shale and crumbling rocks. Bloody brutal!!!!
Hard to say what the vertical drop was exactly, but it must have been close to 1000 feet for sure, all at an altitude of around 6000 feet. Going down was sliding and cutting your skin, going up was trying not to slide back down and stopping every minute or so, to catch your breath and just hope to make it out. This after a hard day fly fishing!
After making is down we explored the stream finding some nice pools and small ripples. We all fished different techniques, catching a bunch of rainbows and brown trout but nothing big. We did catch a few beautiful wild rainbows that are so different than the stocked rainbows.
The surprising fact for us was that after that climb down we felt that we would be the only ones fishing that stretch of stream. It was a Saturday which is not good, usually I fish in the week it is much quieter on the streams as most fishermen are working! Within minutes of us starting to fish we were passed by two Fly Fishermen who had walked in from Tontozona, they were heading further down to fish. Then half an hour later three spin fishermen past us by. Crazy!!!
We fished on and a few hours later bumped into the two fly fishermen who were moving quickly back up stream. They stopped briefly to tell us they came very close to a mountain lion that was walking in the tall grass along the stream line.
They were off, two of us carry bear spray so out came the cans, locked and loaded!!! We stayed together fishing on down talking loudly banging rocks with our walking poles and generally sounding like Times square on a busy day. Making sure he knew where we were.
It is hard work, the stream is very rocky with large and small boulders, so you have to be looking down, watching where you place your feet so you do not hurt yourself. Looking down and then looking up at all the cliff ledges, trees hiding spots etc: No sign of the mountain lion so that was the good news. All in all a very hard day fly fishing with no trophy browns caught.
At the end of the day when we finally made it back to the truck we all concluded that it was worth doing once, we got rid of that nagging feeling of what if! However never again in future we will just take the stream down and deal with the bush at that time, just easier!