|2,500 ft AEG|
|Intermediate Canyoneering - Difficult or dangerous; Tech Climb; rope reqd; descent anchor; exit technical;|
|B - Up to light current; wading/swimming; possible wet/dry suit|
|I - Short 1-2 hours|
|With an "Old Geezer" and a Hollywood Director....
Shane: A Retired "Old Geezer" from Salt Lake City, who was all of 54 years old... I think that means I'm nearing "Old Bag" status.... Very Experienced, Well Trained and has been doing Canyons for over 8 years. Many times, his Wife goes with him as well...
Brian: A Movie Director from LA...Turns out he was the Producer/Director/Filmmaker of the new Documentary "Gorging" that was Premiering the next night at the Zion/Springdale IMAX Theatre...We were all planning on going to see it... It was pretty cool to hear about his experiences filming it...
Even though the Rendezvous didn't officially start until Thursday, Shane posted this in Meetup for Wednesday. It's an easy "Beginner" Canyon with 4 short Rappels, so when I inquired, he was very happy to have me join up...So I went up a day early so I could join him for this one.
Brian joined up last minute and was going to meet us at the East Rim/East Mesa Trail Junction since he was staying in Springdale...He was going to come up from the Weeping Rock TH...Shane didn't want to drive all the way into the Park and have to take the Shuttle, so he planned for the two of us to go in the back way off of North Fork Road, just up from the Ponderosa Ranch Resort, where we were staying. He said the Trail from Weeping Rock up, was full of steep Switchbacks and was an ugly uphill...He stated that the back way was easier...Just a little uphill he said....Since I really had no clue about the area, I'm like "Ok, cool" ...As it turns out, I was getting all of the Information, in pieces, a little at a time... From the Weeping Rock TH, it was 2 1/4 miles in to the Junction with 1300 feet of gain...On the way out, it was all downhill...From our start, Shane was right, it's just a little uphill for the first 2 or so Miles...Just a little over 300 feet....After that, it's all downhill to the Junction. More on that later.... I met up with Shane Tuesday night when I got in and ended up Camping next to him, so in the Morning we just got up and got going....
The Hike In
Shane had a 4x4 so the drive in went well...A couple of areas I really wondered if I would have tried it with the Escape, it was a little gnarly...Hit the Trail, which, again, was a gradual "up" for the first 2 or so miles through Pinons and Pines...Very nice Trail. We get to where the "uphill" ends and Shane takes me up to a point and shows me where you would leave this Trail and start going down to the Entrance to Mystery, another Technical Canyon...All I could think was "wow".... Pretty much straight down an incredibly steep, narrow Trail... You really have to see it to appreciate it....
Shane then informs me that it will another 2 or so miles to the Junction from there, but it's all downhill...Ya.... We start the descent, passing the turnoff to go to Observation Point and the downhill gets steeper...Great Trail though! We are now about halfway thru the "downhill" part...We turn a corner and Shane points to our Destination.... Ok, this is not a little down, this is a lot of Down....All I can think is "Holy Crap! We gotta come back up this".... Needless to say, I was not mentally prepared for the length and uphill that ended up coming with this Trip... After a minute or two of mental readjustment, we continued on down, with both of us laughing hysterically at Shane's informational surprises...
We get to the Junction a little late and Brian's not there...We sit and wait and before too long he shows up. He was on time, didn't see us, so he had continued on down to Echo. When he didn't see us there, he came back up and found us...We hit the East Rim Trail and were soon at the Entrance to Echo....
All I can say is...I'm really glad Shane talked me into a Full Wetsuit...It was worth it's weight in Gold...This Canyon is one of the last Canyons in the area to "thaw out" in the Spring and can be very treacherous even into late May/early June with Ice and Snow Drifts...Parts of this Canyon never sees the Sun and the Water is frigid. How Frigid? Well, Brian elected to wear a Shortie and I think he regretted it...He resorted to Calisthenics in the Narrows to try to warm up...Although the Water was chilly with a Full Suit, the only thing that got really cold on me were my hands, and they didn't stay that way long, although they hampered my Photo shots a few times... The other advantage I found to a full Wetsuit? It "sticks" really well to the Sandstone, making Downclimbing much better... I have found, at this point, that Downclimbing is my biggest weakness. But with Teamwork, and Shane's willingness to share his knowledge and experience, I was learning fast and becoming more comfortable...And the Wetsuit definitely helped!
Reading up on this Canyon, it reads of smelly, stagnant Pools...Thanks to the torrential Rains this area received the week before, the Canyon had flushed out. Although the Water was brown and silty, it was very fresh with no stagnation at all... It even had a small bit of flow in a few places still...There are only 4 Rappels in this Canyon, and none over 30 feet, so I was very comfortable, even with Water Disconnects...The Narrows were very cool and in one area, the Acoustics made it obvious how this Canyon got it's name...It was a great Trip down and before I knew it, after the Rappels, some Swims, and some Downclimbs, we were out and laying out in the Sun-baked Sandstone next to the East Rim Trail. Brian used it to finish thawing out... After a little snack, Brian decides to take off, while Shane and I just chilled for a bit more, mentally preparing for the Hike out....In fact, we dallied for so long, our Wetsuits dried, saving us about 3 lbs on our Pack Weight... And then it was time to go...
The Hike Out
Ya... Up, Up, Up....Shane is in great shape for an "Old Geezer" and I knew he would kick my ass on the way up...I surprised myself though and did pretty well, making fairly good time to the Observation Point Junction...Shane only beat me there by about 5 minutes...And of course, we didn't skip a Trip to Observation Point, so we dropped the Packs and Hiked on out to it...The Views are incredible! You are actually above Angel's Landing, looking down on it... We spent some time here, just soaking it up...Shane has probably been out there a hundred times, but never tires of it...He loves this area and is trying to move here. Standing out on that Point, looking out at the Park, I was really wishing that I had my better Camera with, but made do with what I had...It was awesome! And then it was time to go... Picked up the Packs and did some more uphill... Finally reach the Crux of the Uphill and then, the "Horse back to the Barn" mentality sets in. And the Energy Drink I had downed was still holding up... The last two or so miles was a very fast, smooth cruise...And then, we were done...
Wrapping it up
Even with not totally being mentally prepared for the length and AEG of this Trip, I would do it again in a heartbeat...Not only did I get to see a pretty Canyon, but got a great Workout as well, with Killer Views and excellent Company! What else can I say? It was a great Day!!!
I am forever thankful for people like Ken, Scott, Mike, Shane, and Brian for having the patience to take Beginners down into these Canyons. Without them, it just wouldn't be possible to learn and gain experience...Shane and Brian were awesome on this Trip!
Just had my Waterproof Camera on this one...I actually took more pictures of the Hike, than of the Canyon itself...I was a little busy in there... Plus it gave me something to do when I was Sucking Wind on the way out.... Just in case anyone's curious, I plotted out our Route using Existing Routes and Topo...It can be seen here... http://hikearizona.com/map.php?QX=3005
Great Side Note
After the Screening in Springdale, Brian followed his Film "Gorging" to the Big Bear Lake Film Festival where it won the Award for Best Documentary...Very Cool!!! Here's the Trailer... http://vimeo.com/50654250 We have a forum topic on it and it's coming to Phoenix...I will post the Date as soon as I find out....
||Wildflowers Observation Isolated
|Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"|