A technical canyoneering trip into Secret Canyon.
This is a technical canyoneering hike, which will require appropriate gear and preparation, which should include a harness, helmet, biners, rappelling device, wetsuit, 50 ft of webbing, several rap rings, adequate food and water, 2x100 ft ropes, and possibly a GPS to aid in navigation. Canyoneering involves rappelling in slot canyons in which flash floods are a great danger, always check the weather before departing and do not go if there is any chance of rain.
Discovered by Joe DeSalme, later publicized in Todd's guidebook: "Arizona, Technical Canyoneering". The trailhead register was damaged, but what is left tells of interesting tales of the early history including aborted attempts at winter descents through ice covered potholes.
From the rim, find the faint trail that proceeds southwest off the ridge and bends south. Follow the ridge down the diminishing path until you reach a saddle area where a few minor drainages meet. Find the vague route up a ridge to the southwest and climb up approximately 600 feet to reach a large flat ridge, which you follow south. Upon nearing the edge of the ridge, attempt to find the faint trail into the canyon to the east. Follow the canyon bottom south until you find the first rappel, which consists of a pair of approximately 10 ft rappels (from a single anchor) through some shallow pots. Immediately afterwards is rigged well back from the edge, which you will downclimb 12 feet into a small pot and rappel over the edge approximately 50 feet.
Next is a set of pots which includes a semi-keeper. Rap and swim through these and over the second lip another 10 feet for a total of approximately 50 ft. A little hiking after this rappel is required through ferns, greenery, and some deadfall. Next on the platter is a rappel down a slope with vertical drop off at the end of about 30 feet.
A 65 ft rappel is found from an extended anchor into a wet slot full of rotting vegetation. Shortly afterwards is another short rap into water that might be downclimbed were the walls not so slippery and mossy. The next rappel anchor can be made of fallen sturdy logs across a narow constriction for a short rappel into a nasty pool. After this is a rap of 15 feet into a chest deep pool as the canyon slightly widens. Continuing downcanyon is a short rappel of 15 ft, a 40 ft rappel down a dihedral, and a bunch of bushwhacking. Downclimb several obstacles and do 2 more short rappels of 20 feet until you reach the junction with the red subway of Secret Canyon.
Take off wetsuits and gear here. Head upcanyon approximately 1 mile though gorgeous sections of slickrock, fallen logs, and one bypass around a pool. At the junction with a drainage, get out of Secret Canyona nd turn right (LUC) and proceed up the brushy drainage. After then minutes you will find a bench on the right (LUC) that you can hike on, out of the logs and rocks in the drainage bed. Proceed along the bench about 40 yards then look right through the vegetation to find a hidden drainage on your right. Do NOT descend forward or left back into the drainage, instead head right into this brushy slot. Climb up the center of this drainage through tons of deadfall and brush until you reach the saddle. Turn slightly left and go around and over an enormous fallen tree in a clearing. Trails proceed downhill to the east until you arrive the trail you came in on. Follow the trail back north to the rim.
Warning: The exit it pretty nasty and it is easy to miss the final turn from the bench into your drainage. A GPS is recommended.
Nothing you'd want to drink, bring plenty with you.
Plenty of dispersed camping on the rim, practice backcountry ethics and clean up the site before you leave. - Jun 15 2010 nonot