Root Family

Root Family

Sep 29, 2014

The Subway - September 2014

It had been a couple of years since my first trip through the Subway and I had been dieing to get back. I finally put in for permits back in June and was able to score 10 total. My intent was to get my brothers together (I have 4 of them), my son, my brother in-law Bill, and whomever else I could get to help fill the permit. A couple of my bothers were not able to make it, so I made room for my brother in-law Brock and his son Johnny. This was Johnny's 10th birthday so it would be a good time to break him in to some light canyoneering and a good day of hiking. 
We met up with Bill in the dark at a campsite about a mile off the Kolob Terrace road and quickly set up our tents for a short night of sleep. We were up by 5am, packing, then setting off to the trail head. Bill had scored permits to do Russell Gulch, so he and his cousin, Quinn, set out from the Wildcat trailhead around 6:45 in the morning while my brothers and I took his truck back to set our shuttle vehicle. By the time we set the vehicle and finished packing we were on the trail about 8am, which gave Bill and Quinn a good head start so they had time to do Russel Gulch. We planned to meet them at the bottom where it empties into the left fork. 

The hike in was as beautiful as I remembered it. Starting off in a high pine forrest and wandering your way down sandstone, you can't get much better views than that. I did not remember the approach being as long as it was and was thrown off a bit after you get down the slick rock bowl, thinking we were supposed to go more left and following a trail which ended up being the route to Das Boot. I quickly made our correction and found our way over to the scramble down into the canyon. 

We arrived at the pool at the bottom of Russell Gulch and only had to wait about 5 or so minutes for Bill and Quinn to join us (perfect timing). They both donned their wetsuits for the trip, which I eventually became a little jealous of, but I did fine without mine (likely because of the "extra" insulation I naturally possess). 

I was surprised at how little water there was in the upper left fork (just random puddles here and there). We made our way to the first official rappel and were all able to down-climb the crack on the right (LDC). We quickly made our way down the canyon and before you know it we were at the famous bowling alley. The last time we hit this part we had to bypass on the left because of the flow of water (it was the day after flash flooding the previous day), so it was fun to climb up on top and get down the other side for a swim. 

We then were at Keyhole falls quickly as well and we down-climbed this section as well. Unfortunately for me (for the second time) most of the great swimming sections were covered in sand, so it was a simple walk over these areas. I'm hoping someday to hit it in better conditions, but that wasn't going to deter from the fun we were still having. 

We spent time at the keyhole slot, then over to the Subway where we prepared for our short rappel. Bill belayed johnny down due to his inexperience, which I think made him more comfortable. Again, due to the previous months flash flooding, most of the pools were buried in sand, with only a little water going over some of the lips slowly washing out the sand over time.

We ate some lunch below the subway section, then packed up and worked our way on out, taking a bit of time for some pictures at the red waterfall sections below and this is where we began to see groups working their way up. I still cannot fathom doing this hike from the bottom up, missing out on all of that beauty above. 

The hike out was eventful at times. We saw a lot of brook trout in the creek in various spots and my son Caiden found a nice sized Tarantula as well. As we started to exit we began to get hit with rain and a bit of thunder. 

The remainder of the trip we had planned (with permits) to do Keyhole Canyon the next day, but that night the area got hit with some major rain storms and flash flooding. So bad that they had to close down the park on the east side, which is where we ended up camping (Zion Ponderosa). After doing the subway we killed some time out at the old downhill section of the Redbull Rampage and watched the amature bikers play around for a bit before heading to camp. We hung out Saturday to see if the rain would let up and it never did. We passed a bit of the time hanging out in the recreation barn before finally calling it a day and heading home. Bummed out about not being able to fully utilize the time we had, but satisfied that we were able to do the Subway. 

Caiden (my son), who rarely expresses if he liked a hike or not, was adamant that we come back and do this one again, which made me happy. I don't like to push things on him, but I truly hope he develops a love for the outdoors that I have. 

At the Wildcat trailhead

Dropping down into the canyon

The first are we got wet

Billy decided to go all in

Such a beautiful canyon

Caiden on rappel

Billy on rappel

Johnny on rappel

Brock on rappel

The Subway

Caiden and I below the red falls

The friendly Tarantula

Johnny, taking cover from the rain while we snack before exiting the canyon

Looking back on the canyon we came out of

Downhill biker jumping across a 15" section of road. 

Waiting out the storm at the recreation barn

It was coming down hard

Video from our hike through the Subway

Sep 8, 2014

The Living Room - September 2014

It had been a while since we had been up to this fun little place above Salt Lake City. We were looking for something to do with the family on a Sunday afternoon and opted to head back up here. It's located up above Red Butte Gardens. It's a bit of a climb, but you're there before you know it. Over the years people have been using the loose rocks in the area to create furniture. As you sit, you over-look the valley with beautiful views.

We hiked out as the sun had set pretty quickly and ended up back at our car with nothing more than a few cell phone lights and the moon light. Just as we got into our car we heard a large pack of coyotes howling not far from where we just came out of the small grove of trees near the trail head.

Hiking up the trail

At the Living Room

View from the Living Room

Sep 6, 2014

San Juan River Trip - September 2014

Growing up I wasn't exactly a river-rat, however I loved spending time down at the South Fork of the American River in Northern California. Our family didn't vacation a lot, but we played hard on the weekends, often bringing our inner tubes and floating various sections of the river. On rare occasions we were also able to take a few commercial trips down this class III river. 

Likewise Alene grew up in Montana, where the three forks met in her hometown of Missoula. She has fond memories of floating down various sections of the rivers there with her family in the commercial raft her father bought locally in Salt Lake City. That raft had sat in her parents garage for a long time with no use so when her sister April started to get the itch to get out and run a river, they decided to put in for permits to run the tame San Juan River.

April and Bill went in for the long-haul and invested in a really nice commercial raft they were able to purchase used, but at a great price. We weren't quite ready to bit the bullet yet due to money, so we opted to use the same raft Alene and her family would use 30 years earlier. We took it on a test run of the Provo River and it seemed to hold up well, so we were in.

Along for the ride was April and Bill's 3 children, Bill's sister Whitney and her beau Ethan, Alene, myself, and two of our three children. We put in at Sand Island just a few miles outside Bluff, UT, and took out at Mexican Hat, UT. Total trip was roughly 26 miles. The original plan was to spend two nights on the river, but due to some likely complications to the 30 year old raft (leaking), Bill applied an entire roll of Gorilla tape to our boat on day 2 and we pushed on to finish out the trip. Surprisingly the raft didn't allow one bit of water in. Gorilla tape for the win!

The river was not running very high or fast, so there was a lot of paddling and occasionally getting out to pull the raft over shallow sections, but it was still a great experience for us and bringing the kids along.

Rafting is an expensive commitment, but I'm looking forward to more trips and more adventures on the water. We had a great time despite the obstacles.

Stopping by Looking Glass arch on our way down (good place to stretch the legs)

Checking out Fort Bluff

Day 2, putting on the water

Petroglyphs along the river

April and Bill's awesome rig

Our campsite

Waylon was really quiet while playing down by the shore, then he finally asked for help. He was stuck deep in the mud

How Waylon uses his sleeping pad

2nd day on the river

Narrow sections on the river

Getting closer to the end of our trip. Mexican Hat rock in the distance

Alene's shoes broke on this trip and Bill's Gorilla tape job held up just long enough.

Video from our trip