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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Smell that pine-fresh scent!
Overview: A short technical canyon in the heart of Zion National Park.
Warning: Canyoneering involve hiking through slot canyons. Always check the weather before your trip and do not go if there is any chance of rain.
For this technical trip, ensure you take appropriate gear, which will include a helmet, harness, rappelling device, wetsuit, 200 ft rope, safety leashes, and adequate footwear for hiking and swimming.
Be warned that during the middle of the day the canyon will be crowded and long waits will be encountered. Unfortunately for you if you're cold and wet you will get colder, possibly too cold with insufficient wetsuit thickness...so plan ahead!
This canyon is usually full of floating vegetation mats and debris: leaves, bits of bark, etc. Immature members of your party will be likely making poop jokes before long...be warned it will be annoying the whole trip and you may get this juvenile discussion from multiple groups.
The vegetation and debris is usually particularly bad right at the great cathedral. Be prepared to have to push your way through lots of floating logs, do not send a weak swimmer or someone with little upper body strength first if you observe a good deal of logs from the top of the rappel.
History: The Zion Mt-Carmel tunnel goes along this canyon. The final rappel is right near one of the old viewing windows. Built in the time of model-T's, this tunnel is now too narrow to accommodate today's large RVs in different directions at the same time.
Hike: From the small parking area just east of the tunnel, head towards the bridge and follow the trail of use along the south edge of the bridge to reach the bottom of the drainage. Suit up here if you have not already. Shortly down canyon you will do a short downclimb and wade/swim into a pool and climb up a small fin to an anchor on canyon right LDC. Rig this rappel for approximately 60 ft. It is a double drop - 1st 15 ft into the shallow pot, then a walk to the edge and continuing another 20 ft or so to a (usually) swimming disconnect. Be careful the rope does not get stuck in the crack when pulling the rope after your rappel.
Shortly afterwards is a short 10 ft rappel from a log. Immediately afterwards is an amazing feature of this canyon. The Great Catherdral rappel starts in a sculted curve in the canyon and rappels approximately 60 ft into a grotto with 2 major arches and spectacular curves in all directions. Be cautious setting up this rappel and use your safety leash on the slippery, smooth, sloping rock lest you fall. Usually this is also a swimming disconnect.
After this is a section of walking through flat entrenched hallways. Looking up you can see the deep sinuous slot continuing hundreds of feet above you. A downclimb and more walking will bring you to a short rap and a possible swim. The canyon will begin to open up and then suddenly turns left.
Now in the sun, stay towards canyon right LDC until you approach a large drop off. Find the anchor on right LDC and rappel approximately 50 ft + another 6 feet until you reach the slickrock at the bottom. Go through a narrow constriction and find the terminal cliff of Pine Creek. Climb up on left onto the platform and find the small crack that leads to the airy anchor. The last rappel is currently 85 feet. It used to be 100 ft but the lower grotto of Pine collapsed a few years back creating a large debris pile. At the bottom of this rappel is a clear spring.
Now done with the last rappel, remove your gear and hike downstream. Do NOT take the use trail that appears nearly immediately downcanyon on the left side, this is an erosion path that the park does not want canyoneers to use (it is also an awful trail FYI). Instead stay in the streambed and hike and boulder down canyon. Find the fun and safe ways to get around the car sized boulders and stay in the watercourse. After about 30-40 minutes of walking you will see the brick wall that designates the switchback that you parked at above you and to your left LDC. From the nice swimming pool (though when I went it didn't look that nice) find the short steep trail that leads up to the road and your car. Should you miss this exit, the hiking is still pretty nice and you will hit another waterfall near the Spry terminus and another swimming area before nearing the bridge over the creek.
Water Sources: Nothing you'd want to drink, bring it with you.
Camping: In Zion Nat'l Park at South Campgrounds or Watchman.
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