Root Family

Root Family

Jun 25, 2014

Fat Man's Misery (aka Misery Canyon) May 2013/June 2014

Click here for a Map of our route

Last year in May Alene, Bill, spent a couple of days down in Zion to get some canyoneering experience under our belts. Bill had done Fat Man's before and offered to take us through. It was a wonderful experience going through a more difficult, yet beginner-friendly canyon.

Being that I used my iphone to take pictures of our trip in 2013, and also being that I broke my iphone after exiting kehole canyon the next day (and never being able to recover the pictures), I'm combining this year's (2014) trip report pictures along with a video from 2013.

We all headed down from Northern Utah on Friday afternoon and met up at Zion Ponderosa for our basecamp. April and Bill got a much early start in the day so they took some time to hike over to the East Mesa viewpoint while we drove down. Alene and I arrived around midnight and we spent some time getting settled and making plans for the next day.

We slept in a bit longer than we should have and did not get started on the trail until around 8:20am. The hike in is beautiful, surrounded by many lush and green vegetation with the backdrop of the beautiful sandstone that makes the east side of zion so captivating. We followed a dry wash for about 30 minutes or so before coming to the steep and strenuous sandy hill to climb.

The ladies at the beginning of the trail

Bill, our fearless leader

Getting to the top of the sandy hill (it's a great feeling)

More ladies

The state flower (sego lilly) in full bloom

From the sandy hill we began our descent into the canyon, which had us go down and over about 3-4 minor "hills" before coming to the large upper portion of Fat Man's. We worked our way down the large slickrock and into the canyon and sat for a little break before venturing up a minute or two to the first rappel in the canyon.

One could bypass most of the technical sections in this canyon until you come to the last rappel, which is avoidable. By why miss the best parts? The technical sections come with all kinds of good beginner-friendly challenges. A nice 30' rappel, several down-climbs, an opportunity for some teamwork by using a meat-anchor, then partner assisting others down a few awkward drops. The upper canyon was mostly dry with a few pools here and there. The frogs were in full force.

Dropping into the upper canyon

Alene on the first rappel

A little down-climb

The first arch room. That piece of webbing is used to swing around and get on that ledge Alene is standing on.

Exiting one of the technical sections

Bill and Alene on the last rappel

I wore knee/elbow pads for the first time and I LOVED the protection they provide. Such a difference. Look who's smiling and look who's frowning.

We stopped for some lunch before heading into the tall/narrow section and the last arch room. This is where more water appeared, much deeper than last year's jaunt through the canyon, which made for some fun.

Alene and April waiting to head into the second arch room

Looking back at the second arch room

The ladies in the second arch room

Doing a bit of high-stemming to set a hand-line on a bolt so we could get down a drop a little easier

Alene and I at the grotto spring. It was so beautiful here and full of tiny frogs

Burst shot of Alene sliding into the last exit pool

We happened to run into some fellow outdoor message board aquaintances right as we came out of the canyon and spent some time talking with them before we went our separate ways. They had backpacked the entire east fork from Mt. Carmel, which was impressive. They were going to rest up before making the steep hike out of the canyon.

When you exit Fat Man's you get to see such a beautiful section of Parunuweap Canyon in the East Fork of the virgin river. It's like The Narrows, but without all of the people. We spent time swimming in deep holes and topping our water bottles off before heading down to the large rock fall and trying our luck at getting to Labrynth Falls, but we ran out of time because we had to get back to the Zion visitor center for our permits for the following day's canyon (Mystery).


Soaking up in the deep pools

Such a beautiful canyon

The Powell Memorial

Another section of Parunuweap

The slog out was hot and somewhat eventful. About halfway out my quads (specifically the muscles above my knees on the inside) started to cramp up badly. Bill and April pushed on so they could get to the visitor center in time while Alene and I made a SLOW exit. Going downhill was fine on the legs, but any sort of uphill motion brought on major cramps. It was extremely frustrating. I made a note in my phone to make sure I am conscious of plenty of salty stuff while hiking in the heat (I should have known better).

Here is a video of the trip we made in 2013. On this trip it was Alene, Bill, and I.

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