AKA as Double Play Canyon & more recently Canyon de Colores in the local canyoneering community... I've been wanting to descend this one for some time now, scanning topos & google earth while taking guesses where it was, and wouldn't you know it's been right here all along... Let's be honest, I've been so busy playing in other canyons I never did the boot work to scout around for this one but instead benefitted from loose lips in the canyoneering world.
To celebrate the unveiling of this amazing canyon, we assembled a HUGE group of 10 experienced 'new wave' canyoneers who don't believe in this 'secret canyon' crap and just want to have a good time.
The canyoneering community is WAY too small for all this drama.
Ten people is a lot of peps and that was quickly apparent as we climbed up the Barnhardt trail, checking out the flow of the lower canyon, looking down in the equally sweet Big Kahuna canyon, and being blow away by all the ice covering Big Kahuna Falls.
We had talked about splitting the group but figured we'd still move fairly quickly since we're all experienced and thankfully that proved to be correct. Our route took us up the Sandy Saddle trail for a quarter mile before heading down canyon towards the main fork of Barnhardt. This side drainage drops us in right were the canyon begins to dive thru a major colorful cliffband.
To be honest, with that many new people and conversations going it's kinna tough to remember the canyon but thankfully I took over 200 photos.
It started out innocent enough as it dropped thru a slickrock narrows with some tricky down climbs, chilly high waders, and some thick ice sheets floating on some of the pools.
Most of us turned into a pack of little boys while crawling & sliding on the ice, trying to crack it with our weight & then rocks, and picking up the massive chunks and shattering them on the rocks. The water & ice were cold but the canyon was going in & out of the sun and we were moving enough to keep us warm.
Then we hit the first major 80ft icy rappel in the shade and standing around waiting for your turn to rappel did get rather cold, especially when you actually took your turn to rappel in the frigid falls with ice hanging all around you.
That rappel was probably the coldest I've been all year out canyoneering in my new 4/3 wetsuit so after stuffing the ropes I quickly got moving and got rather envious of the two guys totally unaffected in their dry suits.
LoL, I was so cold that I didn't care about water on the lens ruining most of the shots and could feel my coordination level drop a notch or two... Took a nasty spill on some icy slick rock, followed by a short 15ft rappel where I again took a rookie slip on the way down, and that super chilly swimmer below didn't help at all.
Man, who's the genius who organized this trip in the middle of February!
By now the group had spread out quite a bit due to people getting cold and wanting to keep moving, so the rappels went a lot quicker and you got on rope almost as soon as you got to the drops. That rappel was followed by another optional easy rappel or climb over a chockstone and waterslide into a chest-high pool and I of course slide down it which was quickly followed by another 20ft awkward rappel past a large chockstone, probably only the third mandatory one so far... After that rappel, we hit a sunny section below the upper narrows where we stopped for lunch and I quickly dropped my top and put on a dry shirt to warm back up and was glad that we were now low enough in elevation to be past most of the ice.
Afterwards, the canyon mellowed out a bit and was more about enjoying the amazingly beautiful canyon while doing an occasional tricky down climb, bypassing chilly pools, one short rap past another huge chockstone, and of course plenty of rock hopping.
We hit a potential exit at the confluence of Big Kahuna Canyon but we all elected to push on. Thankfully I was warm enough by then to play in all the pools & slides further down canyon while others elected to take the high routes and avoid the chilly pools.
The canyon gave us one more easy 15ft rappel that was bypassable via a high route to avoid the swimmer below so only about half of us enjoyed that cool one with a double falls. This beautiful canyon again dropped into a sweet narrows section where we were again blown away by all the colorful boulders and rock layers.
When the canyon mellowed out again and the sides got low, we dropped our gear and hiked up a use trail back to the main trail with about a half mile to go back to the TH. So glad I hung back and dropped my gear instead of hiking out with it on.
Wow! Such an amazingly beautiful canyon with plenty of rappels, down climbing, waterfalls, thick ice chunks and SO sweet to share it with a large group of solid fun-loving canyoneers.