This week was Spring Break – and as you all know, I cannot enjoy a spring break without nearly killing myself on some totally awesome adventure…well this week was no exception. Coincidentally, Spence invited us on a slot canyon hike down in Southern Utah during the week – along with his friend Jeanine and his daughter Jen.
The first and last main activity was motorcycling/bicycling. This was my first chance to really break in my mission bike on something other than a stupid road. We ended up near a ghost town just outside of Springdale after a failed attempt to find the top of Gooseberry Mesa.
Buckskin Gulch was the ultimate man killer. About four miles in Bree and I decided to turn back (due to time constraints). It was probably a good move, seeing how the rest of them came hobbling in the door at 9:30 pm, which means something in the neighborhood of 13 hours on the trail. There wasn’t a single one of them that wasn’t covered in blood or missing toenails or bleeding from blisters the size of a silver dollar. They couldn’t move for the next day. Bree and I, however, had a lovely Sunday afternoon checking out the petroglyphs and enjoying how absolutely incredible the slot canyon was.
The crowning event, however, was Spry Canyon. This is where we learned how truly Mountain-Goatish Spence truly is. Holy crap…that man is 60 years old yet we cannot even keep up with him. As we climbed the slickrock face, he just hopped on up…a lot of time was spent by him trying to coax us to go his way. Bree pretty much thought we were going to die.
We finally got to the actual canyon after a couple of hours, and our first obstacle was a rappel down a 160’ rock face – though not vertical – with water streaming down it. By this point Spence had mentioned that the park ranger had tried to talk him out of going on this thing – too much snow and ice and slush. I was the first to go so that I could untangle the ropes and Spence could help acquaint the people up top with the gear and the method of rappelling. We would have originally landed in a pool of water with slush floating in it, but luckily there was a big snowdrift from which the pool originated that I could land on. Everybody got down all right, but in order to avoid the pool we had to traverse a ledge that was about 3 inches wide. I tried to help Bree across, but in so doing we both fell into the icy water. I didn’t breathe for probably a whole minute as I helped her swim to the other side. Now we were in the canyon and were totally freezing. We didn’t warm up for the next 7 or so rappels…
We kept along – coming across a rappel on average probably every 1/8th of a mile. It was a totally awesome hike – and would have been the time of my life was I not on the verge of hypothermia. The rappelling was awesome – especially in trying to figure ways to avoid pools of water. This sometimes included carrying Bree through the water after catching her at the bottom of a rappel, and sometimes holding the rope around my waist and holding it tight while she basically ziplined down across a pool from the cliff above.
The sun was a beautiful thing – once we finished something like the 8th rappel we finally reached around to the sun – and finally began to warm up. By now I had put something like 10 holes in my gloves, likely due to how dirty the ropes were (they just sanded through everything). This is when the hike really got fun. Now we could enjoy the rappels and the awesome scenery.
Spence ran ahead once we emerged out of the canyon to the boulder-field. We were then hopping and climbing and dropping from boulders the size of our living room until we found ourselves on a 75 foot cliff. Kinda freaky. Having no ropes and no clue where to go, I skirted across the face of the cliff until I found a part where I could downclimb a little bit onto a rockslide. I grabbed Bree and we trucked down the face of the canyon for the next hour. I have never been so relieved to see Spence’s truck as I was that day…
Oh, by the way, we have NO decent pictures from Spry canyon. Reason? Well first off survival was our priority, and secondly, our disposable camera got destroyed after about the third rappel. It was so sandy, so wet, and so dirty, that even a waterproof disposable had issues.