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The Thrill of Canyoneering

My Favorite Canyon
A Day in the Life of a Canyoneer

Written By Shane Burrows

          My favorite canyon begins by dropping into some very deep, dark, narrows. Down you go, deeper, deeper, and deeper until you are hundreds of feet below the canyon rim. You look up but you can no longer see the sky. You can spread your arms and touch both sides of the canyon. Still deeper you drop until entering the water which fills the canyon bottom. The water is frosty cold because the sun never reaches this place. You can feel the waters icy fingers through your drysuit and layers of fleece. It is so dark that you are tempted to reach for your headlamp. The vibrant green moss contrasts with the bright red sandstone and the crystal clear water. You swim, climb, rappel and scramble for hours. Your mind wonders, is this a holy place or does evil lurk here.

          You continue down canyon into the bowels of the earth. You encounter lots of swimming, potholes, logjams, downclimbing, swimming, potholes, floating disconnects, logjams and swimming. You have several opportunities to practice your "Shamu the Beached Whale" pothole exiting technique, but when that fails you dig deep into your bag of tricks for a method of extracting yourself from the water filled pothole. Perhaps this is an evil place and you are going to be part of a delicious bowl of skeleton soup.

So Narrow - So Deep Swimming the stew

          The canyon is extremely beautiful but almost impossible to photograph since you are in darkness. You look straight up and see the slot twisting nearly a thousand feet over your head in sculptured splendor. You round a bend and encounter a fantastic double arch in the watercourse. You use the arch as an anchor to set up a simultaneous rappel into the plunge pool at the bottom. There is no need to speak with your partners since you are moving in harmony as one.

          After many hours, you exit the deep narrows at a small open section. The sun hurts your eyes after the hours of dim light. You rest, enjoy the warming sun and eat lunch. Don't get to comfortable since we are only half way through. Worries of an afternoon thunderstorm and the resulting flashflood always haunt the dark places of your mind while exploring a canyon with no escape.

          Back into the entrails of the earth we plunge. The water has turned stagnant and debris filled swimming, potholes, logjams, downclimbing, swimming, potholes, floating disconnects, potholes and more swimming obstruct our path. You must swim a pothole with a dead deer floating in the center, the canyon is so narrow that you must brush along side the floating, rotting, carcass. The smell is overpowering, but soon behind you. A devil's pit and a keeper pothole are soon encounter and dealt with, this is no place for bumblies.

          The plunge pools begin to clear and soon become pure as you drop through an aquifer. Fresh water squirts from the walls to form a roaring stream. Lush, green vegetation and hanging gardens surround you. Millions of flowers sprout from the canyon walls strutting their vibrant colors and releasing their sweet fragrance.

          You finally egress from the deep, water filled slot after spending most of a day in its lethal grasp. As you walk away from the chasm, you offer a nod to the gods for having allowed you to visit such a hallowed place.

Swimming the soup Beauty surrounds you

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