Catching up a slightly crazy solo canyoneering trip from a couple months ago.
After failing to drop into this technical canyon on the first attempt and unable to interest any of my friends in joining me, I loaded two 200ft canyoneering ropes on my back and zoomed up the Black Canyon trail to the drop-in point in about two hours.
Up at 6000ft, there's a fair amount of fallen leaves and the creek starts out gentle and innocent enough. A little further down canyon that quickly changes as the canyon starts cutting thru the dark Basalt. This upper gorge can be bypassed easy enough on the left but after some down climbing you eventually reach the first huge 140ft drop. I've had a few people tell me they just bypassed this drop, but it looks like such a sweet rappel and the bypass looked nasty so I of course rappeled it.
Geared up, put the wetsuit on, and set the ropes. About 3/4 of the way down, I went to step on the rock and was confused with how slippery it way until I realized it already had 2-3 inches of ice covering it... Got some cool photos of the ice, pulled & packed up the ropes, and headed down this slickrock gorge. Tons of small falls & down climbs & bypasses & fall colors on the trees in this middle section. I managed to stay mostly dry above the ankles thru most of this and I made the mistake of putting my shorty wetsuit on at the first drop and now I was getting kinna chilly from the cold sweat between the suit and my body.
I started to underestimate the canyon, since I thought I was bypassing a few falls/rappels and would shorty be done with the canyon... Then I rappel #3 thinking that was rappel #4 in the book (my #2) and not finding a good anchor at the top, I scrambled down the first section and saw some anchors across a pool around a tree. Not ready to get wet yet and the next class 4 drop was just a tad to sketchy to down climb, so I build another anchor and did a 40ft past the lower falls of this drop. Kept pushing my way downstream past more down climbs & bypasses and hit the real rappel #4, a big 125ft drop down a sweet chute and realized I still had a fair amount of way to go with only about 3 hours of daylight left.
I used the interesting knot-in-a-crack anchor above the falls and rappelled down that super sweet falls, packed up the ropes, and headed full steam for the lower narrows. I had managed to stay dry up to this point though chilly in my now sweaty wetsuit, so when I had to jump into the chilly swimmers of the narrows I got super cold.
Too bad I had to save weight and space in my pack by only bringing a shorty wetsuit.
Once I got past how cold I was, the narrows were actually very sweet with loads of pool & down climbs to get past. When I got to the 15ft drop, I down climbed to the metal rod and used the handline tied to it to lower myself to the pool. But when I got to the next 10ft drop I just slide down it into the frigid pool. Once out of the narrows and into the cool evening air, it was liberating to remove my wetsuit and put on a dry shirt & fleece stuff in my dry keg. With the sun quickly setting, I still had a 1-2 miles of dry rock hopping to get back to Ogden Ranch Rd and my car.
Wow! That is quite an adveturous full-day canyon that is not to be taken lightly...
You'll have excuse me on the water smudges on the photos while in the lower narrows. I was cold & short on time & the low light didn't help either...