What an amazingly beaUTiful & grueling trip this canyon turned out to be!
We were itching to get back to Zion and drop into another of the BIG canyons and slightly redeem ourselves, so to speak.
My buddy Eric had done this canyon a couple summers ago, but it was the first time of us other two. We got dropped off at the West Rim TH and from there it was an easy bushwhack north towards upper Kolob Canyon and it wasn't very long before we were gearing up for the first rappel. We evaluated the flow at 2-3cfs, which would make for a fun yet sane descent thru the rocking narrows.
The first rappel was about 80ft from a tree and dropped down along the falls and once we pulled the rope there was no turning back.
The canyon quickly dropped into the colorful mossy narrows with many short rappels & down climbs. We soon hit the first 150ft rappel which was actually a double drop with a huge plunge pool 100ft down that we swam across while on rope before finishing the rappel. The next drop was a cool slide into another deep pool.
A few more short rappels thru the narrows brought us to a 100ft rappel where the canyon opened up some. Some more down climbs and before you knew it we were at the windy perch for the final 150ft rappel. By far the best rappel of the trip as you rappelled down the misty falls as it showered you with it's chilly water. Even with a full 4/3 & shorty 3mm, I was starting to get the chills at this point.
It was SO cold & wet even my trusty old waterproof camera was acting up... Almost time for a new one.
A couple more pools and we were out of the technical narrows and dropping our gear in the sun while grabbing lunch.
It only took a halfday to complete the technical section but we still have a day and a half of rock hopping to exit this beast.
After lunch, we comenced the journey downstream and stopped to soak in the 300-400ft falls that drops in.
Mucho, mucho rock hopping thru some of the tallest and most beautiful narrows in Zion. There were a few short rappels we encountered further down canyon but we opted to jump them all since they had big clear pools below them. Eventually evening started setting in, so we found a good campsite near the bottom of the MIA trail and starting digging in for a peaceful night along the flowing creek.
The next morning was a lil chilly of course, but we had to suck it up and start plowing thru the creek and wading thru more pools without our wetsuits on. When the canyon got narrow again, we hit some deeper pools that required swimming and even had to plow thru a few sections of thick quicksand.
Eventually we got to the scenic & mellow lower Kolob with just easy rock hopping until we finally reached the Virgin Narrows. All the rock hopping & heavy pack was taking a toll on my sore hip, so this next section while very beaUTiful became rather uncomfortable...
The extra flow in the Virgin Narrows made for more of a challenge but it was definitely worth it as we passed Big Springs and entered The Barracks higher up than I'd gone before. Passing the last rappel of Imlay Canyon brought back some memories but we didn't linger too long before plowing downstream thru the popular section of the narrows. Being a holiday weekend, the paved path was a zoo but it was nice to take the pack off and relax in the shuttle bus while enjoying a much less eventful weekend in Zion than our last visit.