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.


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