Bittersweet trip experience. This is one of my most favorite places to visit in Arizona. Whether I'm hiking, climbing, swimming, or all of the above, I love it here. The place is full of magic and is not to be missed. I'd been planning this trip for over a month and got a group of friends to come with. Unfortunately I managed to re-injure myself a week and a half ago, and was not sure I'd be able to climb. This causes problems because the approach includes some sketchy downclimbing into the canyon before a final rappel. As it turned out, the rappel turned out to be nothing, but convincing my lats to cooperate on the downclimbs was another story.
We all got down into the creek and took a deep breath and a look around. Pictures can never do this area justice. Amid smiles and shouts, we dropped our packs and loaded up on the gear we'd need, taking breaks to look around again and again at the tall sandstone walls and perfect flowing water. The trickle and flow of the water was music to our ears.
My plan was to help belay anyone who needed it. I wasn't planning on much climbing, but tried out a 5.9 anyway, stopping halfway up to take a break and stretch. Against my better judgment, I finished the route. No more climbing for me this weekend. And no more belaying. I took it easy for a while, until it was decided we needed to take a swim upstream. The heat in the canyon was almost perfect, but the water was still cold! We jumped in anyway and swam quite a ways up until we reached a warm pebbly beach. It was nice for a while, but then the wind really kicked in. Swam back to the rest of the group until the sun disappeared behind the canyon walls.
Hiking back to camp, we found that our tent had partially blown over.. knocking over the cooler we'd left inside to keep it stationary. Everything was soaked inside, from clothing to bags. And covered in sand. We gathered everything up as quickly as we could and changed plans. Headed out to Flagstaff to meet some others for brews and food. No more magical canyon for us, but we did have a warm place to stay there in Flag, and a few options open to us the next day..