So sweet when a wild dream becomes reality!
So last year after a failed attempt at Blue Tank canyon via packraft, I decided to scramble up to Skeleton cave instead. It was eery to check this place out, but the canyoneer in me was overwhelmed by the sweet canyon below it with the BIG rappel.
After a whole year of telling my friends my crazy desire to go back and descend it, I finally got my buddy Ryan interested in going back armed with his bolt kit and my 400ft rope.
We knew it'd be a long day, so we started early down the SPR road after parking at the gate. It didn't take long to reach the lake and we blew up our packrafts (pool toys) and started the 20 minute float to the base of this side canyon. The wind was pretty intense that morning and thankfully was blowing at our backs or this trip would have been a huge FAIL.
We stashed the boats near the base of the canyon while I ran up to check a break in the cliffs to see if we could up climb it. It was exposed class 3 climbing but nothing too crazy so I ran back, grabbed my pack, and all three of us secured the boats with rocks and proceeded thru the break and continued scrambling up towards Skeleton Cave. I had scouted a route from the cave to the lake before and that helped in knowing the quickest way up. It was also SUPER nice to be able to leave the boats in the same place while doing the canyon since there was a possibility we would have had to deflate them and carry them thru the canyon if that route thru the break didn't pan out...
Once above the first drop into the Rhyolite narrows, we dropped packs and ran up to check out the infamous Skeleton Cave. Very sad to know what occurred here almost 150 years ago.
So there's a dry fall above the alcove that is Skeleton Cave, but we deemed it unnecessary and bad taste to scramble up above and rappel into skeleton cave... On a happier note, the first rappel wasn't mandatory but it was a cool one of about 60ft. Once in the rhyolite narrows, we had some down climbing before hitting a huge chockstone requiring another 30ft to bypass and get below. A couple more down climbs and we were atop the BIG rappel that looked to be 250-300ft. The rock was smooth, only some light bushes & cactus to be found, and a few mediums rocks. If our lives depended on it, we could have made a deadman anchor from those rocks in a pothole but who wants to do a 300ft rappel from a few rocks.
So my buddy broke out the bolt kit and put a couple well placed bolt in the wall. Such a beautiful place to hang out and watch boats going by below down in Salt River Canyon. If only those Indians could see this place now!
I was the first over the edge and while I've done many 300ft rappels, it was kinna different doing one in the Supes for the first time.
Is that punny green thing down there a Saguaro???
Use rope pro to save your rope from the sharp edge where it goes vertical and give your buddies an appreciated bottom belay. The rappel is southern facing and open, so it could be rather hot during the warmer months... Cool plunge pool at the bottom; would be sweet to see this falls flowing! Once everything is safely down, it's rock hopping until the canyon drops into the lower volcanic tuff narrows. The lower narrows can be bypassed but where's the adventure in that.
Surprisingly most of the lower narrows can be down climbed but were stopped by a sloping then vertical drop of about 120ft. It was nice to still see our boats on the shore and not blown away or taken. Who'd steal $20 pool toys anyways?
After the final rappel, we scrambled back down to the boats, de-geared, and put back onto the lake to paddle back to the SPR road. The day was quickly slipping away as we delated the boats and packed them away for the 2 mile walk back up the road to our cars under a bright full moon.