Sunday, May 5, 2019

Wonderland Canyon


On May 5th, 2019, Steph, Tony, Byron, Brandy, Joel, Alvaro Bot, and I splashed our way through Wonderland Canyon.  Well... most of us did.  Tony used his superhuman stemming ability to stay dry.

Wonderland is badly underrated - I think it is destined to become one of the main attractions in Capitol Reef National Park.  So much water.  So many rappels.  A compact and engaging canyon that reminded me, in terms of fun units per hour, of Pine Creek Canyon in Zion.

We moved at a leisurely pace and the canyon was full of laughter.  It was another great day of canyoneering with friends new and old.

The exposed scree approach.






The stoic Mr. Lemay.











C+ for technique... A+ for ankle flexibility!



It was great to finally get out with Alvaro.



Tony pushing the walls of the canyon apart.






Notes:

We met a man at the top of the approach that told us about an easy way to the top of the mesa.

The route is 3.0 miles, 1100 feet of elevation gain, and requires a car shuttle.  I am not sure about the parking situation (at a gun range?).  The route looks straightforward and is detailed below.


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Strike 2 Canyon

On May 4th, 2019, Steph, Tony, Byron, Brandy Uhrig, Joel Dever, and I chimneyed our way down Strike 2 canyon.

The geometry of the canyon fooled me into thinking that it could not hold much water.  I was surprised to discover 3-4 waist deep sections, plus a pool in a pitch black section.  We did not bring wetsuits, so we all made a significant effort to stay dry.

The downclimbs were tall and challenging.  I was able to downclimb all of the drops in the middle of the canyon, which was a fulfilling step forward in my progression.

The middle section was punishing for folks that did not have good downclimbing technique.  The slot is so narrow that rappelling from meat was an uncomfortable option, so belays were provided from above.  Punishment for poor technique let to some badly bruised backs, knees, and elbows.

This was our first canyon with Brandy and Joel, who are somewhat new to canyoneering.  It was great fun seeing them do their first 200+ foot rappels.









Brandy and Joel working hard over a pool in the dark.


Steph working hard to stay dry.



Tony making everything look easy.



Sweet! We made it!

A very dry Byron wearing a very wet backpack.



Tiny people in a giant slot.

Notes:

Our car-to-car time was about 4.5 hours moving at a slow pace.

This canyon was significantly more physical that it appeared on paper.  The drops are too skinny to downclimb comfortably.  Lack of strength and technique will result in many bruises and missing patches of skin.  Strike 2 is not a good canyon for most beginners.

I think that each person that does this canyon should consider a couple of strategies:

High and Dry:
Don't bring a wetsuit.
High level of fitness and stemming skills required.
Lose a little skin on each of the downclimbs.
Fight your way over the dark pool, and possibly over several other wet sections.
Possibly fall into the dark pool and get very cold.

Low and Wet:
Bring a wetsuit even though you might not need it.
Put on your wetsuit at the first sign of water.
Lose no skin on the downclimbs.
Simply wade through the dark pool.
Possibly wonder what the big deal is.
Be prepared to make fun of friends falling into the water.