Saturday, August 31, 2013

Duckett Slot

On August 31st, 2013, Steph, Micah, Tom and I headed through Duckett Slot.

It was a great canyon for a hot and muggy afternoon.

If you go, be sure to tell your friends to bring elbow and knee pads. Be sure your GPS doesn't drown. AND be sure to read ALL of the beta so you will know how to get back up to your car.

You might not be as lucky as me to hike with 3 people that don't mind getting caught in a monsoon downpour.

I was relieved to discover that everyone had as much fun as I did. It was a fine adventure.

Rainbow over Hog Springs.

Fry Canyon

On August 31st, 2013, Steph, Tom, Micah and I took a refreshing lap through Fry Canyon. A storm from night before filled the canyon and we happened to catch it while it was still flowing.

Short and cool, it was a great way to spend a few hours after a hot day of hiking the previous day. The only rappel in the canyon is stunning and worth the effort.

Tom's game face

Steph's game face.

Micah's game face.

Friday, August 30, 2013

East Blarney

On the stormy afternoon of August 30th, Micah, Tom, and I did a quick lap down this scenic, much traveled canyon. It's fun and easy, and I was stoked that Micah and Tom were willing to do this canyon that I had never seen, but they had both done before. Thanks fellas!

Tom converting potential energy into thermal energy.

Micah and Tom.

Messin' Around

On August 30th, 2013, Steph, Tom, Micah and I headed for Foolin' Around Canyon in the North Wash...

... and missed.

A navigational snafu on my part led us into a slot between Foolin' Around and Horse Play. It's a pretty good one; good enough quality that we didn't question that we were in the correct canyon until the end.

The finale was a very nice 90 foot free-hanging drop... into some trees. With no signs of passage, it could be a first descent. Given its location, we realize how unlikely that is.

Either way, it was a very fun and memorable morning with some great new friends. I'm thankful that everyone completed the canyon without incident, that we found our way back to the car quickly (thanks to an outstanding climb by Tom), and that everyone had a great time. We realize how fortunate we were to do this 'exploration' without a major problem.

Does Micah have the skills to do this outward flaring chimney?...

He sure does.

Tom and Micah.


The final rap. An optional shorter rap on the RDC side (booooor-ing).

Steph making it look easy.

The following photos were taken by Micah Campbell.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kolob Canyon

On August 10th, 2013, Steph, my brother-in-law Tyler and I ventured through Kolob Canyon. This was Tyler's first canyon since his accident in Sandthrax, ten weeks ago.

Kolob is a spectacular canyoneering adventure, with stunning views around every corner. There was almost no flow going through the canyon, perhaps one gallon per second (or about 0.1 CFS). For our first time through, the sparse amount of water was fine with us.

Please turn your sound ON and maximize your viewing area before playing this video. You'll have a little more fun that way.

The real challenge came after the last big rappel. We came across 2 rattlesnakes and another unexpected obstacle...

Tyler and I were hiking downstream from the majestic 400 ft spring-fed waterfall when Tyler began swatting at something. I was on the shore of the creek and Tyler was in the main watercourse. Suddenly he started screaming and flailing, sprinting upstream trying to remove his pack and his helmet. As his pack came off his back, 10 bees flew out from underneath. As his helmet came off, 4 more came flying out. Perhaps a dozen more bees were literally chasing him as he retreated up the creek. Quite scary. Unfortunately, Tyler had his wetsuit peeled down to his waist, so he was stung at least a dozen times. Luckily, the bees were not that interested in me or Steph.

Once we retreated upcanyon a bit, we looked around, trying to find the home of the bees. It was difficult to spot, inside of a log that had fallen across the creek. Tyler had stepped on this log, much to the bees annoyance.

Then we realized: While sprinting away Tyler had dropped one of the ropebags directly underneath the doorway of the nest, no more than a foot away. There were about 30 very angry bees attacking it.

It was then I remembered that bees are not too fond of mud. So we proceeded to cover ourselves, like Schwarzenegger in Predator.

Ever since seeing the move back in 1987, I always hoped that the need to copy that method would arrive. Covering yourself with mud for protection is fun. It was even more fun when we realized how well it works. With our wetsuits zipped back up, we covered our faces, necks and hands with mud and proceeded downstream.

The rest of Kolob Creek was continuously beautiful, but also taxing because we underestimated the distance between Kolob and the MIA exit. It was like having 5 helpings of dessert. Even fat kids get annoyed at some point.

And the MIA... oh man. It lives up to the hype. The MIA exit has two halves: The easy half, then the hard half.

The hard half seems as if it were designed by Satan himself. A 5.3 upclimb, 600 feet tall, with dead trees for handholds, covered with a foot of unstable sand. It's pure hell. I've never vomited on a hike before, or from any form of exercise. However, I vomited several times at the top of the MIA.

Amazingly, Tyler carried 400 feet of rope, plus his harness and wetsuit up the MIA, all the way back to the car. :ahnuld: Thank God he did, because we wouldn't have made it up before dark without his Herculean effort. Is Tyler recovered from Sandthrax? You betcha.

Tyler doin' his thing:

Free advice:

We recommend wearing a 2-piece wetsuit for this adventure. Remove your neoprene top and harness after the second big rappel, then put on a quick-dry shirt. A 7mm top with a 5mm bottom would have been perfect for me. The hike from the last big rap to the final 15 foot rap was quite long, but still in the chilly watercourse. It would have been much more fun if I wasn't fighting my wetsuit the entire way.

Fill up with water at the huge waterfall spring on the LDC wall, just after the last big rappel.

If the longest rappel is 170 feet, then bring two ropes of that length. The rap pulls are very straightforward, as long as you don't twist your ropes. Carefully separate your ropes before your last person commits to each rappel, even if it means floating in the water while you hold them apart.

Be sure to have a good meal and drink plenty of water before the MIA exit. Cramping and vomiting could have been easily avoidable if we had taken a little extra time in this department.