Beautiful canyon and an epic adventure.
We had our first unplanned overnight bivy here, and Katherine got to try the Aron Ralston method of conserving water. Blech! But better than running out of water on a hot day, which is what we almost did.
We took the alternate entry, as recommended by Average Joe Road Trips. This bypasses the first big keeper pot hole if you lack an Ibis hook. The alternate route goes through some squeezy narrows, then down a chute to a second pothole in the main channel. We were glad to have a handline for the chute.
Chute. Hang onto a handline and slide!
And then things go difficult. The chute drops into a pothole that is clean-scrubbed of any rocks. One large rock sat atop a deadman anchor buried in the dried mud. We were grateful to hit the pothole when it was dry, as I have no idea what you’d rappel off of if the mud weren’t there to hold the anchor. But the problem was, the anchor was now buried so well that we couldn’t inspect it. If we dug the anchor up to check the webbing, we’d lose the benefit of the mud gripping the anchor. The visible boulder was clearly not enough to hold the anchor on its own, and there was no lip to crimp a rock under. We spent about an hour searching for extra rocks to reinforce the anchor, or an alternate point to rappel from. Ultimately, Katherine rappelled with a meat back up, bounced around a lot, and the anchor held. So we went with it. This would be a great place to have a bolt kit!
Analyzing the sketchy anchor
Once we completed the rappel and said our divine thank yous, we enjoyed this lovely view.
The canyon then narrowed up into the fun chimneys. Peter enjoyed the stickiness of his new 5.10 canyoneer shoes.
The knee and elbow pads proved very useful.
Katherine’s thrift store Ben Davis jumpsuit felt like the best canyoneering outfit ever. No shirt to tuck back in. No waistband to hitch up. Awesome… until the back ripped off. We patched up with Gorrilla duct tape, and then that ripped. So, Katherine butt scooted the rest of the canyon on bare skivvies and skin.
Spare a butt patch?
The chimneys opened up to a long swimming hole with a slick exit. Katherine spent 30 minutes swimming in circles through the chilly water, searching for an exit. After belly flopping over the edge in relief, we dried ou and warmed up a little. And then night came too quickly. We chose to bivy rather than risking hiking out in the dark. We were grateful to have some basics in the emergency kit — space blankets, 2 Clif bars, rappel gloves doubling as insulation, a little water. We had a PLB to activate in absolute emergency, but chose not to use it as long as we were okay. A cool and restless night finally broke into a rosy sunrise over the lower canyon.
So glad to greet the morning!
We woke early, hoping to get back before our emergency contacts called the sheriff. We were glad to have an emergency plan in place, in case things got worse. The canyon wound through rosy cliffs and then opened onto a cottonwood grove.
Cottonwood grove — marker for the exit
The exit was near! It was ironic to be almost out of water, yet so close to Lake Powell. We talked about sending a water container down on a rope to the lake before hiking out. We decided to try to exit first, as we still wanted to get back before the sheriff was called. The 4th class exit can be difficult to spot. It took us 3 tries to find the right gully. If you have a boat on Lake Powell, you can also rappel out the canyon and into the boat. A long shadeless hike brought us back to the van. It was so good to be home!