Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kanarra Creek Hike - Spring 2008

I moved to Cedar City in December of 2007 to start school at SUU in January. From the time I arrived, I spent most of my spare time learning the area so I would be well prepared for some adventures as soon as the weather cooperated. While searching the web, I found out about a relatively short hike that close and supposedly had some great features. Just east of Kanarraville, Utah, a creek flows from out of the mountains. This creek has carved some impressive slots in the soft sandstone. From the looks of the pictures I viewed online, it looked like a worthwhile adventure. Around Memorial Day, I decided that I really wanted to go do this hike, so I call my brother, Rob, and invited him to come down to do it with me. He was all for it.

We headed out to Kanarraville early on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, it was cold and a little rainy, but we had seen a lot worse, so the ugly weather wasn't going to stop us. We arrived at the parking area and began to gear up. I took a good look around and was amazed by the beauty of the area. I admit, I was a bit nervous because of the rain, and how chilly it was outside, because I knew at some point we were going to be hiking in the water. The trail was straight ahead of us, so we started on our way. Not long after we started, we had to cross the creek for the first time. I had some water shoes on newly bought neoprene socks on, so I didn't think much about stepping into the water. As the water soaked through and touched my skin, I turned to Rob and said, "That is the coldest water I have ever felt in my life!” I didn't know that in a few hours a lot more than my feet would be touching the iciness.

The first half mile or so was a relatively larger valley with an easy trail. We were both in high spirits as we headed up the canyon. The trail followed along side the creek closely. It wasn’t too long before we ran into the first narrow little section of the hike. We both had cameras and stopped for a few minutes to snap some pictures. At this point, we had crossed the creek a couple of times, but only had the water up to our shins. After a couple of minutes of picture taking and screwing around, we packed back up and headed up the trail again. The canyon opened back up slightly, so it wasn't just a slot anymore. We would stop on occasion to take some pictures of the spectacular scenery. About a mile and a half or so into the hike, you finally run into what are known as the Kanarra Creek Narrows. As you turn the last corner before the narrows, a broad wall faces you that is about 75 or 100 feet high with only the little slot where the creek comes out. It really is quite narrow and spectacular. This was a great spot to set up the tripod and get a few pictures from each camera. We had no idea of the wetness that lay ahead.

At the end of this section of narrows is the first of two waterfalls that you have to get up and over to keep going up the creek. This is a fairly well traveled hike, so there are objects in place that help to get over these obstacles without much difficulty. At the first waterfall is a log with some boards nailed across it and a hand line to steady your way up. It was a little bit nerve racking walking up the slippery log, but both of us made it up without incident. It was past the top of this waterfall when we started to get a really wet.

Again, the canyon opens up slightly and we found ourselves traversing the creek again multiple times as the trail went from side to side. Not too far past the first waterfall, we approached the second set of narrows with another waterfall at the end. This set of narrows was a little more intense as we found ourselves wading waist deep in the frigid water. A lot of this water was from snow melt in the mountains, so you can imagine how cold it really was. As we made our way to the base of the second waterfall, there was only a rope ladder this time that was uncomfortably close to the water rushing over the falls. We both got pretty wet going up the ladder and were sufficiently wet by the time we were at the top.

From here there are some areas of spectacular scenery with various smaller waterfalls and sheer cliffs up to 400 feet high. At some point we realized we had probably seen all there was to see and started back. At this time the cold and wet was really starting to take a toll on us physically and mentally. We did a 180 and headed back for the Blazer as quick as we could. There were really no incidences on the way back as we knew what to expect with the exception of going back down the rope ladder we had scaled earlier. I was lucky enough to have the ladder swing under the waterfall which subsequently soaked me from head to toe. I was more irritated than anything.

We eventually made it back to my Blazer and cranked the heat. I think we were both suffering from stage 1 hypothermia at this point, but we both had a blast. It’s a trip I’ll always remember and a fond memory that I share with my brother.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Old Adventures

With winter starting to set in, but not enough snow for snowboarding yet, my weekend adventures have been severely limited. I believe this is the best time to bring out some of my old adventures and share the experiences. I'll start off with some rappelling.

Rappelling - Summer 2007

Rappelling is a natural fit for me. I love hiking in the mountains, especially cliffy areas, so tying a rope to something and getting down quickly seems like the next progression. I had been rappelling a couple times in my life previously; once during a youth high adventure trip to Canada, and then in one of my freshman classes at BYU. I enjoyed the first couple of times that I went, but didn't think too much of it afterwards. Fast forward to the summer of 2007, when I was preparing to get married. In deciding on what to do for my "bachelor's party". I decided that the second half of the day would be spent rappelling in Rock Canyon with a couple of my friends and my brother Rob. He was the one with all the gear and basically served as our guide. Despite our adventure being cut short by a somewhat nerve racking equipment malfunction, I was hooked.

Soon my friend Geoff had bought some equipment and we were off to our second rappelling adventure. This time we set off to Spring Canyon just to the west of Helper, Utah. The spot we decided would be best was named Death Cliff by us because a local man died rappelling at this spot a few years ago. In fact, you can see the blue boulder at the top of the cliff that has "R.I.P J.T." spray painted on it. That didn't help our nerves any. The first half dozen times your rappel, it's pretty scary. You have to put a lot of trust in your equipment and keep your wits about you or things can go downhill (or downcliff) very fast. Anyway, there's a flagpole on top of this cliff raised in 1911 that is used to tie to. Despite being old, it's very very sturdy. We tied the rope off and after a quick refresher from Rob on the fundamentals, we sent him down first. Unofficial rule of rappelling is that the person who ties off the rope goes down first. Rob always made it look easy. He just glides down the rope with no cares in the world. After he was down, we waited for him to get back to the top to check my gear before I headed down next. After checking out ok, I slowly backed over the cliff. This was the most nervous I had been in a long, long time. The smile on my face in the picture to the left was forced, and hides my extreme terror. At this point, I almost said, "Ok, I'm coming back up", but I decided to press forward. Inching down the face of the cliff, I slowly became more comfortable with it. By the time I hit bottom, I was relieved, excited, still nervous, and ready to do it again. I only went one more time as there was a lot of time spent on switching gear as there was five of us and only two harnesses. At this point it still made me nervous, but I couldn't wait to go again. Wendy came and watched us from the bottom and was excited to do it herself. Next thing I know, we make a road trip to Salt Lake and are the proud owners of our own gear. We bought harnesses, gloves, and a rope. We were now self sufficient.

The next weekend, we got the crew together again to go rappelling and headed back up to Spring Canyon. Instead of Death Cliff this time, we went directly across the narrow canyon to a lower and easier to access rappel. We found a perfect spot that was only about forty feet this time and had a cool free fall that you had to jump off. This was the area where my confidence was improved and I could actually talk as I was going down the rope. On the right you can see Geoff taking a leap from what came to be known as the NGL. We all went down the NGL and another spot close to it known as Next Up countless times getting more and more confident each time. At this point we were ready to do something bigger. Something legendary. We were ready for the Government Caves.

I had been to the Government Caves a couple of times before. They are out in the middle of nowhere in the San Rafel swell in Emery County. These massive holes in the ground were created in the late 1940's when the Department of Defense was looking for a location for what would become NORAD. The government carved out these tunnels then packed them full of TNT to test the strength of the rock. Three large holes blasted straight through the roof. Seeing that the rock was too soft to withstand an attack, they moved on. The caves have remained untouched other than graffiti ever since. The western most hole is by far the largest and has a significant drop. It is probably somewhere a little over a hundred feet. Rob came down on Labor Day 2007 and brought some friends and we headed out into the desert. Some anchor bolts already exist at the top so it was just a matter of tying in and sliding down. The picture to the left is Anthony sliding into the freefall portion of the rappel. Rob, of course, went first and I followed. I have to admit that I was quite nervous backing into that massive hole. It would have been a lot harder if we hadn't been rappelling a lot on smaller drops. I started down the rappel without incident, but as I reached the freefall portion, I started to decend a little fast. Instead of using proper technique like I should have, I gave the rope a death grip to slow down. I reached the bottom without incident, but my tight grip on the rope caused friction burns bad enough to blister even through my leather rappelling gloves. My day was over. I took a lot of pictures and we had a lot of fun. We brought a grill and cooked some burgers and dogs and everything was great until it was time to leave and the battery was dead in my Blazer. I had been playing music for a couple of hours, but I had never had a problem with killing the battery before. It must have been the unrelenting heat that day. Rob ran back to the closest town in his ride and picked up some jumper cables from Anthony's wife and all was ok again. The only damage done was to my ego I think. I was pretty embarassed. The picture to the right shows Wendy on rappel at the Government Caves.

That fall was my last in Price and I have since moved to Cedar City. I haven't found the same group of friends to go rappelling with yet, and I miss it, but I have been a couple of times since being down here. Rappelling is one of those things that is terrifying at first, but very addictive. Hopefully in the future, I will be able to participate in some canyoneering which combines hiking and multiple rappels through narrow canyons. Zion National Park is considered one of the best places in the world for canyoneering and its only an hour or so away for me.

This spring, a climbing store here in Cedar City was liquidating its inventory and Rob and I scored some good gear for cheap. This included a new harness for me and a set of ascenders for Rob. Hopefully I will be able to use this new gear in the coming year on some new unforgettable adventures.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


So here it is. I finally decided to start a blog so I could share my experiences with anyone willing to pay attention. Being a poor college student, my most common form of recreation (or stress relief) comes in the form of outdoor activities. I love camping, hiking, fishing, and most recently I've taken up fly fishing. I also love taking pictures during my activities. I live in one of the most geologically diverse areas in the U.S. (and one of the most beautiful in my humble opinion) which makes for endless amounts of recreation opportunities. I do most of my activities solo, but I find a certain comfort in being out in nature with no one else around. Anyway, I hope that you will enjoy my pictures and story telling as much as I do experiencing them. Keep checking back for posts on my latest adventure...