My buddy from Tucson has been joining me up on rim for our last few canyoneering adventures, so I figured I'd switch gears and drive south and do one in his backyard. I've done all the moderate/easy published canyoneering routes down there with him, but I figured with a little more experience under our belts that we were ready for one of the Big Boy canyons in the area.
We woke up pretty early, dropped a car off at Sabino Canyon parking lot, and drove up to the Palisades TH. We had 5 miles of downhill trail until our drop-in point and we made pretty good time down the mountain.
Off trailing it down to the canyon wasn't too crazy though my socks got covered in loads of sticky seeds...
I figured it was about 50/50 on whether the canyon would be flowing or not so I was super stoked to find it flowing knowing we'd be doing some sweet waterfall rappeling today!
We took a light break when we hit the canyon and gear up into our shorty wetsuits and gear and slowly made our way down creek. It didn't take very long before we hit the super sweet narrows section and the first of many wet rappels with an awseome view down canyon of at least a few more waterfalls . We had to rework the anchor on that first 150ft double drop by putting the webbing under a huge rock and stacking other rocks on top of it so that it wouldn't slip off. What a sweet rappel to start the day with and it had a 30ft slide down into a pool and then another 100ft or so over the next falls!
Once at the bottom of that, we pulled the rope and re-rigged it for the next 100ft drop down another slide to a small ledge with the water shooting out and down another chute into a swimmer. Rappel #3 was from the slippery lip on the far side of the swimmer and after pulling the rope, I had to swim over to the 2 pitons to rig the next rappel down a mostly vertical 85ft waterfall into a swimmer.
The next rappel was also right afterwards and we had to rig a new anchor around a huge boulder in the watercourse before making the next 100ft slippery drop into another swimmer. Whew, this has to be one of the best canyons I've done this summer and there's still more to come!!!
After climbing to the side of a small waterfall, Steve rigged the rope for rappel #5 from two piton for yet another super sweet 100ft slippery rappel. The view back up canyon was quite amazing and crazy to realize we just rappled down all those falls!
We had a light break from the falls, so we stuffed the ropes and did some rock hopping downstream a bit before hitting the big 160ft double drop. It's possible to rappel out of the watercourse here, but I highly recommend going right down the slide and over the falls so you can get a refreshing shower in the overhanging section.
The rope pull on this rappel was a little difficult but we slowly got it down and stuffed the ropes again for a bit more rock hopping. The final 85ft rappel #7 was the tricky one of the day and unfortunately the falls go down a tight chute and would have been too difficult to rappel and retrieve the rope, so we had to do a dry rappel on the right side of that huge overhung chockstone down into some bushes before droppinto a pool. Steve rammed a rock in a crack to make the rope pull easier, but it came out while I was rappeling and almost tagged me in the helmet
so Scott had to put another one in and the rope pull was just fine. Once at the bottom, we were able to stuff the ropes for the final time and strip out gear & wetsuits off for the long scenic rock hop downstream to the confluence with the east fork of Sabino Canyon. It got a little toasty so we'd dunk it some pools along the way to cool off and take a break from all the bushwhacking, rock hopping, and down climbing.
We had opted for the slightly longer yet easier downhill 6.5 mile exit down the Sabino Canyon trail & walk the road back to the parking lot. It got a little toasty along that trail, but it was nice to be back on an actual trail and at least it was mostly downhill. I nicely asked the tram driver if we could hop on for free ride since its a warm summer day but he had no simpathy for us.
The scenic road walk went by fairly quickly while enjoying the sunset and it was within 3G range, so my new iPhone kept me from getting too bored while doing the easy stroll back to the car. Though pounding pavement seemed to take an extra toll on our already tired legs.
Still not a bad way to end such an amazing day of canyoneering!