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North Wash Canyoneering

 
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cougarmagic
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Location: Now I have a quote under my name, Taco.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:26 pm    Post subject: North Wash Canyoneering  Reply with quote

I have a lot of experience in California canyons, spent a few years scrambling around off trail in Arizona, and some experience in Zion.  I have never (never EVER) been in a North Wash slot before.  How hard could it be?  I've been in Buckskin Gulch!  4 days of that sounds like fun!  I even packed some kneepads.

The forecast for Southeastern Utah was not inspiring.  A few preceeding weeks of unusually cold, wet weather meant struggling to leave warm sleeping bags in the morning, in order to go play in near-freezing muddy pools, instead of jumping out of bed on sunny mornings to go play in comfortably cool overgrown sandboxes.

Sometimes the epic chooses you though, and since Kirk and I already scheduled time off from work and couldn't come up with a better plan, we decided to give it a go.

I was in the uncomfortable place of being the least experienced in our group of seven.  Two of the seven being Tom and Ram.  Kind of like taking the ol' 10 speed out for a spin with Lance Armstrong....

They picked an 'easy' canyon for the first afternoon.  Shimrock.  Sounds cute.  A beautiful hike up the slickrock gave stunning views of the snow blanketed Henry mountains in the distance.  Pure white peaks rising sharply from red desert, and clear blue skies the likes of which Los Angeles has never seen.  



At the drop in, we had some food for energy, and suited up in cushioned layers and harnesses.  The group drops into the canyon one by one, and I, perhaps feeling the effects of a lunch consisiting of half a tube of Pringles and some trail mix heavy on the M&Ms, suddenly feel a sickening urge to hurl.  The anxiety from the idea of my first impression being one of turning this pristine canyon into a hazmat scene didn't help.  A few minutes of solitude and some deep breaths bring me back into control, and I rush down the canyon to catch up.

It gets narrow.  Really.  Really narrow.  I'm 5'8" and 125lbs.  I have to suck in my gut, turn my feet out ballerina style, and use whatever boney elbow, knee, or knuckle is available to smash against the sandpaper canyon walls to provide a blistering several feet per hour pace through long stretches of narrows.  My elbow pads are too big, and simply slide up over my biceps.  They keep my arms warm while I grind my elbows into the rock.



Rinse and repeat for another hour or so, and we're spit out the end as the sun goes down, taking the temperature with it.  I want to like it.  I want to be excited.  But I don't think excitement is the word (though the cavers in the group are beside themselves with glee at what we've just been through).



Our group wants to do a 'difficult' canyon the next day.  The forecast is for great weather, and everyone is still fresh.  I think about Shimrock being 'easy', and decide to go for a nice hike instead.  Get those guys all worn out, and I can join them for another easy canyon on Saturday.  Tom sends me off with directions to the Hog canyon 'scramble route'  - a hike up a broad canyon with great views at the top.  I enjoyed the desert silence, perfect weather, and followed a few nice animal trails here and there in the nice damp soil.  I loved having time to stop and get some nice photos, and even took a short nap in the sun on some warm slickrock.





Not long after I returned to camp, the crew showed up, looking a bit worse for wear and kind of quiet.  They had a good time, but were pretty worn out.  Good!  We made a great dinner and traded stories around the fire.

Saturday's plan was Hog 1 (aka Boss Hog) one of three slot canyons near where I hiked the day before.  



This started out much better for me, with a more open canyon, some rappels, and challenging (but not scary) downclimbs.  I find it very cool to experience how grippy the sandstone can be, giving me lots of options of ways to move through it.  There is time to take some photos (my favorite!) and I'm really having fun.





Then we hit a long, high stemming section.  I'm feeling good until the floor drops away to about 20 feet below and two things happen - the people behind me are stacking up wanting to go faster, and I'm getting tired and slower.  The walls are sandy here and I don't have that sticky rock confidence anymore.  They politely talk me through it, giving me tips I don't really understand and don't want to experiment with in mid-air.  I decide to stare straight ahead at the wall in front of me, rather than think about the long hallway I have to cross to the side.  I desperately want to go down to the floor of the canyon, back to the skinny, scraping contortions.  There is no sudden ankle breaking stop at the end of those.

The waaaaambulance heads off to some other newbie in need, and I get through it.  The canyon opens up again to the fun conditions I really like.  At the end of this slot, Ram and Jenny decide to hike up and over a small ridge and run through Hog 2, on the other side.  The rest of us have a wonderful, scenic hike two miles down the main canyon back to the cars.  Tom shows us a beautiful petroglyph on the canyon wall nearby.



We start dinner and have things coming along nicely in camp as the sky darkens and the wind picks up.  Our two wayward adventurers come barreling into camp just as the skies open with lightning, thunder, hail, graupel, snow, rain, and wind mixed with sand.  We tie the "party tent" to my car so it wouldn't blow over, and huddle inside dry and mostly warm  More great stories from fun people.  The storm eases a bit, but in the morning it is snowing and cold.  With no canyon plans, Kirk and I decided to start the 12 hour drive back to LA a little early.  We enviously watch our friends head off to hike in the snow among stone arches and look forward to seeing their photos.



It was a great trip, and there's no end to the thanks for nice people, good food, and beautiful desert.    Once the bruises fade, I might even think about going back someday!  Smile



Moar pix:
http://s484.photobucket.com/album...North%20Wash/?albumview=slideshow
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cougarmagic
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Location: Now I have a quote under my name, Taco.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vidgeos:



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EnFuego
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Location: Seal Beach, Ca

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice stillettos.   Laughing

Canyon aint so bad either.
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There is no place for me in this world, Chanchito, I don't belong out there and I don't belong here. So I'm going into the wilderness, probably to die. I hope to see you again Chancho, maybe in the next life.
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norma r



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Location: Ventura County, CA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CM:  Quite an amazing 4-day adventure!  Excellent TR and thoroughly enjoyed your beautiful photos.  SE Utah is breathtaking.

I'm jealous... gotta' get me a pair of those red crampons!  Are they Patagucci?   Wink
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Taco
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Location: Stuntin in the trap son

PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Red single point crampons. Keeps things interesting.
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bluerail



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Location: la quinta

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love to see the stuff people take out there, those were obviously for nights around the campfire? looks like a great trip. beautiful.
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AW
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Location: North Hollywood, CA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

norma r wrote:
I'm jealous... gotta' get me a pair of those red crampons!  Are they Patagucci?   Wink


Hehe, I didnt get this during the first reading pass...yes, blowing a kiss no less..now thats canyoneering style!

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