So playing in Crucifix Canyon took a little longer than I'd planned & hoped yet I still wanted to finish the day off with a quick run down Apache Trail canyon, but I'm a lil tired & need some R&R and even if I rushed into the canyon now I'd still be hiking out in the dark since the days are SO short. Hmmmm, dark....night....it's been a few months since I'd done a night canyoneering trip.
Why not?!? I've done this canyon 3-4 times already in the daytime, it's a warm evening, it also just so happens to be a full moon weekend, the nights are long & I'm camping the night so it's not like I have anything else important to do, and the best reason yet is because there's no else around to talk me out of this crazy idea.
So after finished with Crucifix Canyon, I drove to a scenic ridge, relaxed in a chair while soaking in the amAZingness of this area, repacked my pack for the next canyon, heated myself up some hearty dinner, and I eventually started suiting up into my shorty wetsuit and neo socks while soaking in another beautiful sunset.
I drove down to the unofficial TH along the highway, and dropped into the canyon a little before 6pm and had just enough light to make it the beginning of the technical section before needing my headlamp. I didn't want to cheat this experience by bypassing the rappels and the swimmers even though that'd be quick, easier, and drier.
Geared up, turned on my bright headlamp, and built another chockstone anchor since the one from last year didn't survive and made that first 30ft rappel into a slightly chilly shoulder-high pool and waded myself out. Wow, night canyoneering is SO flipping amazing, eery, and exhilarating.
It's kinna like night Scuba diving but with less gear & water.
After that first pool, I really didn't mind the water too much as I waded thru a few more deep pools. I hit the second rappel of like 8-10ft and made my way across that final pool before dropping the gear & wetsuit & put on some warm layers I had stuffed in my dry keg. With the short & sweet technical section behind me, I now have the boulder cave section to maneuver thru... Wow, so if you think this place is wild during the day you really should try doing it at night!!!
There at least a half dozen boulder caves and while going thru the biggest one of the bunch, I was doing a short yet exposed down climb and my handhold just blew off of the way and I fell face first a good 4-6ft but thankfully my guardian angel & quick reflexes quickly caught me and I took most of the force of the fall on my shin guards and gloves and hopped up without any scrapes or bruises though my heart was racing at least 150 bpm.
A little ways more and I was past the boulder caves, the talls wall slowly faded to vegetated slopes, and the canyon was reduced to rock hopping... Boy is that moon bright! Too bad I left my moonglasses in the car and I might get a moonburn if I don't put some moonscreen on.
A little further down canyon, I acquired the exit ridge and scrambled out of the canyon to the amazing sight of this rugged terrain light up by the moon with the glow of Phoenix off to the west. I saw some glowing eyes staring at me just above the bushes so I yelled to scare it off hoping it wasn't a mountain lion.
Yelling did nothing, so I threw a rock at it and was thankful when it ran away and I heard the hoofs of a deer prancing away... Pulled out my iPhone & fired up the topo app and navigated back to the old Apache trail that eventually hits the paved highway and my bight & inviting car.
This is my third night canyoneering trip and I've thoroughly enjoyed everyone and recommend other experienced canyoneers to give a try at least once.
After two rugged canyons and 11 hours of hiking, I slept like a baby all night.