Root Family

Root Family

Dec 12, 2014

Canyoneering Zion October 2014 Part 3 Kanarra Creek

Okay so Kanarra Creek isn't in Zion National Park, but it is just north of there and we were able to stop and hike back on our way home that Sunday.

Neither Laurie or I had been there before and it seems like everyone in Utah has, or it has somehow just gotten really popular the last few years?  Anyway we wanted to check it out.

This was our most crowded hike, lots of hikers and families but it didn't take away from the experience.  It's popular because it's fairly accessible, no permits needed, not a long hike, just a few hours, it's close off the freeway and number one, very very beautiful!

We hiked into the canyon and were immediately stoking on the tall walls and narrow pathway the water came through.  I really can't wait to take my kids here next year!

After the first ladder were a few pools that came about thigh-high on both of us.  Then there were more waterfalls and pretty rocks and the canyon stayed narrow to the second ladder--if you can call it that.  That second one was a bit sketchy, there was a few steps and then a log to walk on.  Some rope and webbing along the rock wall was there to help you make your way across the slippery rocks right in the waterway but even that looked sketchy, the rope was core-shot and some of the webbing fraying as well.  The canyon opened up pretty soon after that, I think less than 50 yards maybe.

I loved the hike, and definitely will be revisiting it with my family as soon as I can.

Dec 11, 2014

Canyoneering Zion October 2014 Part 2 The Subway

Painful as it was, Laurie and I got up at 5 am to do the Subway.  Since we camped on the east side of Zion we had at least a 1.5 hour drive to get to the trail head up on the Kolob Terrace road in the town of Virgin.  The hike takes a full day and we wanted to not only hit the trail early, but maximize our options for catching a ride from our vehicle at the exit to the upper trailhead.  When we got to the lower parking we still were packing our backpacks when the Zion Adventure Company shuttle came along. We weighed the cost and decided to just pay for the ride since we wanted to get started on our day and we hadn't seen any other groups come by yet.  

This would be my second time through the Subway, having gone in August 2012 Subway Trip.  I snapped a few photos of the route description to refer to on my phone.  Laurie and I kept leapfrogging a couple that was visiting from Florida doing the hike for their first time.  Occasionally they wanted to check if they were on track but it was fairly easy to spot cairns marking the path over the slickrock when the trial wasn't visible.  We actually leapfrogged them the whole day, and ending up recommending they spend their next morning going through Keyhole.  : )

This trip was very different from my first visit and I love how doing a hike you love again is always new and always fun--like Heraclitus' theme--you can never step in the same river two times.  The weather was perfect, it was a sunny day, and I think just 70 or so degrees.  The water was definitely much chillier (and colder than Keyhole had been), so I was grateful for my wetsuit.  There were brightly colored fall leaves throughout, decorating the sides of the canyon and floating in brilliant collections in pools.  But the biggest difference was how clear the water was!  I actually felt guilty that it was so blue and Tyler's trip had been muddy like our last one!

Fall colors and reflections in these photos:

Clear blue water in these:

compare to the same spot in August 2012:

This time no logs got in the way of going under the waterfall!

compare to August 2012:

We had some fun on the exit, well, Laurie had some fun sliding down these rocks and we loved the bugs!

On the long hike through the creek after the Subway section I got pretty drained.  I kept stumbling over my feet and was moving so slow.  I don't think I've ever bonked like that so bad before.  It just seemed like it was taking forever and we kept getting ahead and then falling behind the couple from Florida, and kept seeing hikers coming from the bottom up giving reports of how much farther.  I just got so tired of making my way through those rocks and then after one of our breaks I said to Laurie: "wouldn't it be awesome if the exit was just around this corner?"  Then we turned the corner and it actually was!  I practically sprinted up the hill, I guess I had the energy I just was starting to hate the terrain even though it was still so pretty.  : )

We had dinner in Springdale that night and headed back up to Zion Ponderosa.  I was really happy we did the Subway because it was so perfect and so beautiful!  We both had a great time and I might venture to say it was one of Laurie's favorite hikes ever.  

I decided to make a tally of my Zion hits and misses so far (this isn't all of the canyons / hikes in the park, just those I've been interested in thus far and are within my skill set).  I can't wait to get back there!

My Zion backcountry hits so far:
West Rim w/ Angel's Landing
East Rim w/ Cable Mountain and Deer Trap Mountain overlooks
Kolob Arch

Keyhole Canyon (4 times)
Subway (2 times) 
Jolley Gulch (1 time)
Englestead Hollow (1 time) 
Fat Man's Misery / Misery (2 times) 
Mystery Canyon (1 time) 

My Zion backcountry wishlist is:
Hop Valley (the only piece I'm missing of the full Zion traverse)

Pine Creek
Spry Canyon
Birch Hollow & exit down through Orderville (didn't get to when we did Englestead)
Dead Eye Dick

Canyoneering Zion October 2014 Part 1 Keyhole Canyon

For those who don't know, I've had a rough year.  A really rough one.  Sure I had a few fun trips already, but I also bailed on some fun ones because I spent all of August and September crying and too paralyzed to want to leave my kids. And despite the fun times I had, I would gladly trade them to have back the people I lost.  But since trades like that aren't possible, I decided to keep living the way I always have, to try to get the most out of it, making memories all the way.    

Finally I felt up to doing something again, and it was hard to find a window as always.  April couldn't join me which really bummed me out, but my friend Laurie was up for something new and it turned out perfect!

Laurie and I have been friends for a couple of years now.  Her family made their first visit to Zion National park in April this year and did some of the standard family hikes.  Zion never disappoints and they loved it, but she was eager to see more backcountry action.  I wanted to see some more technical canyons in the park and submitted a request for a number of last minute permits in the drawing.  I also thought Keyhole would be perfect for Laurie because it's so beginner-friendly and a fun scenic slot.  

Day 1:

So we set off for Keyhole.  On our way into Zion we stopped off at the Zion Adventure Company to rent a wetsuit for Laurie and for me to pick up some warmer neoprene socks.  (I ended up buying the 5ml because my feet are always the first thing to freeze.)

Keyhole was warmer than any of my previous trips (two times in May and one time in September) so I was pleasantly surprised.  The water seemed just barely lower than my most recent trip, May 2014--you still had to tread water just for a sec off of that first rappel to disconnect from the rope.  

As I guessed she would, Laurie loved it.  Keyhole is so fun that it seems impossible not to love!  The slot gets pretty deep in a few points and the walls climb above you and there's only a slit of sky and that's what makes it so awesome while you're swimming through.  

We didn't see anyone else while in the canyon and just a few people as we exited.  I think the entire trip from leaving our car and back to it took almost 2 hours.  We spent a lot of time taking pictures and just enjoying it and a good 20 minutes for me to wriggle into my wetsuit.  

We loved seeing the fall colors in the canyon just before going in and again when we came out, such a wonderful time of year to come!  We headed up to Zion Ponderosa to camp and were set up by 6-ish despite switching our site.

Laurie made our fire while I made dinner and we had a great time talking and chatting about the canyon we had just done, the plans for the next day, and of course, everything else about our lives.  

When we were at the backcountry desk earlier that day they didn't have any of the canyons open I wanted to try for the next day.  They did however, have some cancellations for the Left Fork of North Creek, aka, the Subway top-down.  I felt kind of silly doing it because Tyler had just been with his brothers a few weeks earlier and it felt weird that we would each take separate trips to do the same canyon.  

(Plus I'd been just a little bit jealous of his trip, but just mostly because he's been gone a zillion times this year for work already in addition to a few other guys trips and also because hiking is my heaven, my Disneyland, my whatever you call it--it is and always has been the thing I love most.  But I didn't want to feel like I was out for revenge doing the same thing because I don't do that, just worried it might seem that way to some.)  

Silliness aside, after discussing other out-of-the-park options, the Subway seemed the best choice--I'd done it before, it was beginner friendly canyoneering, and of course, would have spectacular scenery.  I ended the night feeling really fulfilled and excited for the next day's adventures.