Monday, August 1, 2005

The Subway 2005 & 2006

My friend Dean Smith is about as honest, kind, and hard-working as they come.  We worked together at Cottonwood Hospital from 2003-2007.  Occasionally Dean would organize hikes and invite everyone in the hospital to tag along.

In 2005, Dean obtained a backcountry permit for 12 people to go down The Subway.  It sounded scary.  9 miles!!  I had never hiked that far.  Even the word backcountry sounded foreboding.

I asked Dean, "Are there any rappels in The Subway?", to which he replied, "Nope."  The lack of big drops made me feel better, so I signed up for the trip.

We loaded a couple of vans full of people and drove to Zion.  Fit people, fat people, there was no screening criteria.  Just a group of friendly hospital folks going on a big hike.  Nobody had helmets and nobody had harnesses.  Our only piece of serious equipment was a 50 foot piece of utility rope from the discount bin at Home Depot.  I believe that rope cost $10 and had a weight rating of about 300 pounds.

So down The Subway we went...slowly... slowly...slowly.  We got pretty cold in the wet section, despite the extreme summer heat.

We hand-lined down the drop at the end, which freaked most of us out.  Dean showed us a boy scout trick where you wrap the rope around your body, as a makeshift harness.  Nobody did that.

When I got to the bottom of the drop, I looked at Dean and said, "You said there were no rappels on this hike!"  He looked me directly in the eye and replied, "I lied so that you would come along."

Because we were moving so slowly, the hike ended up taking 11 hours.  It was not a fun day for me.  Every muscle in my body was spent.  I swore that I would never go back!

As the next twelve months went by, I kept reflecting on how poorly I performed on that hike.  I was in such terrible shape.  There was talk of doing The Subway again, in 2006.  At that point I became determined to get in shape and perform better on the upcoming hike.

In August of 2006 we returned with almost the same crew.  We did much better and had a fantastic time.  Again, no helmets, no harnesses, and I think we used the same trusty piece of rope.  We completed the route in 6 hours and had a lot more fun than the first trip.

Return to The Subway - August 2006

Note the bowling ball at Keyhole Falls.  
There was no log jammed beneath it back then, 
people simply swam underneath it.

I am very thankful that Dean tricked me into coming along on that first canyoneering adventure back in 2005.  I had no idea that I was an adventurer at heart and that canyoneering was going to become a big part of my life.  I hope that some day I will get a chance to trick him into coming along on an adventure with us.