Canyoneering in the dark!
What a great way to spend a Saturday night
Hiked with a few new friends from SSAR. The ultimate in hiking partners!! Seriously they had gear, food, clothes, topos and stories to share out the wazoo! These guys were some of the most polite, well mannered people I have ever hiked with. (I hope none of my other hiking friends take that the wrong way)
We set out on an early morning hike in search of a canyon with a 70ft rap. We ended up on a slightly different adventure that gave us a bonus 5 miles for 10 total miles as logged by the GPS. This terrain is really the ultimate bushwhacking experience with catclaw, house-sized boulders, thick brushy yuck, little shade, lots of elevation, bees and rattlesnakes...what more could a gal ask for??? LOL We returned to the car at 11:05pm...just a smidge later than we anticipated. It was a total of about 14 hours in the lovely outdoors and it was by far the stinkiest I have been after a hike...totally embarrassing. The dog just barked at me when I got home.
The guys had been on a grueling rescue 2 days before so I think they were slightly entertained by my stink-ish self probably because they were too tired to know better.
Our route started in Fish Creek. We walked for about 10 minutes in the creek bed and headed up an un-named canyon on the right. From there we looped up and around a few cliff faces and over a saddle or two...mmmm maybe even three. Although we were prepared with topos, a GPS and other important beta we missed our intended route and then headed down the "never ending canyon" filled with mylar balloons and Green Mojave Rattlesnakes. Once we realized we were in the wrong canyon it was really too late to turn around so we just pressed on with anticipation of what this "new" canyon would bring. I remember saying "OMH........it's turning again......ahhhh!" I was hydrated, well fed and feeling good....and felt even better once the sun actually set.
After dark set in we hit a nice little set of narrows that was tight enough to touch both sides with my arm stretched out. This was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Woohoo! I had never canyoneered in the dark. I've backpacked and climbed well into the night hours but to build an anchor, swim and negotiate the canyon in the dark was pure fun. We had the opportunity to swim through deep, cold, green slime-filled pools. (always a treat when I get to swim & play on the rope...then add the pitch dark blackness of the night and it was an extra fun new experience--sometimes I wonder if there is hope for me??) First, I called back an "UH Oh....we've got waaaaater!" The guys asked me if it was passable without getting wet.......I replied with a "NOPE"! I don't remember exactly what their response was because I was busy getting ready to swim. I dipped my toes in to check the temperature and decided that it felt doable. I called back to the guys..."it's not bad! I think we can do this". Then I tossed a rock to see how deep it was. It was one of those deep plunging sounds....ooops, that's not good.
I called back, " It's a swimmer!" We fussed a bit with a few tree branches that were in the pool to see if we could use them as a bridge but had no luck...too deep and too slippery! (too fun!) After a few minutes of fussing I wrapped my head around the idea that this WOULD be "fun" and just jumped in the water and swam across,(it was cold and I made a few noises) pushing the leaches(icky-ucky) to the side. I think I was across a few pools before the guys even started to approach the first pool. They were busy working to rearrange things in their packs and maneuver the slick walls to avoid getting wet....some with success other weren't so successful in their attempts to stay dry. (people with longer bodies can stem across a greater distance than us short people) There were probably a half dozen pools or so before we reached a decent down climb followed by a short rap. We were really excited to come to this technical section since we had carried ALL the gear so far. We were also a little anxious, not knowing exactly what we were in for. The challenging part was assessing each next twist and turn in the canyon die to the darkness with only the light from our headlamps...black walls, black night, black water. Eventually we made our way through the pools, down the rap and out of the slot, down the rest of the canyon and out to Fish Creek for about 3 miles back to the car. The technical section made me ponder a few things....what would we have done if we needed to rap and there were no reachable anchor points?? (I might need to learn about bolt kits!) Since this is the ultimate in adventure for me (today) I probably need to put a bolt kit on my Christmas list)
Soooooooooo I'm thinking I REALLY like canyoneering under the light of the moon.
Plus it's always fun to hike with new friends!!
Thankfully--I took my cheesy little waterproof/shock proof camera on this hike...some pics to follow....but mostly I was way too busy to take pictures....now that's what a good adventure is all about in my book!
Another unexpected hiking twist resulting in a great new learning experience.
Great people, good times!
PS--I don't think I would recommend this hike to anyone....and I highly doubt I would EVER do it again....LOL!