When was the last time you embarked on an epic slot canyon hiking adventure?
How can this be?
Today I am going to talk about the quirks, exhilaration, sheer majesty, and terror that the slot canyon hike envokes in your life as well as how it ties in with what I like to call
The Howard Stern Effect
So I'm going to admit right now that I haven't listened to Howard Stern in over ten years BUT that doesn't matter. The effect is the same. You see back in the day (were talking on before sirius) every so often they would have a commercial promoting The Howard Stern Show... which was ridiculous because I was obviously already listening to it! But anyway the commercial went something like this...
( no quoting me, this is OLD memory were tapping into here)
Why do so many people that love Howard Stern listen to the show? They want to hear what he's going to say next. Why do so many people that hate Howard Stern listen to the show? They want to hear what he's going to say next.
basically what I think were trying to say is that love it or hate it you get sucked in by wanting to know what he's going to say next!!!
I have found ways to apply this same theory to many things. haha. Yep. And you're about to find out how it applies to slot canyon hikes!
ok so for those that don't know exactly what a slot canyon is (thank you wikipedia) A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. Some slot canyons can measure less than one metre (3 ft) across at the top but drop more than 30 m (100 ft) to the floor of the canyon.
a narrow canyon carved into sandstone or slick rock by centuries of rain and flash flooding. Slot canyons are often filled or partially filled with water and can be extremely dangerous to navigate through.
words or phrases to hone in on *flash flooding *extremely dangerous ;)
Ok so as per our great love of slot canyon hiking goes, we took off in the ski boat toward the end of Mountain Sheep Canyon. Generally speaking jet skis are the preferred method to get to the end of the canyon but we didn't have those this time so we made do. We took the shark with us.
Shark: long skinny towable device with a menacing grin that can be the cause of many laughs as well as many tears. Seats 6 uncomfortably, seats 3-4 much more comfortably, but you could still die.
I chose this especially non-spectacular image to showcase the menacing grin on the shark face.
Ok now don't be mad. I didn't take my camera. I pined and whined over this but having been on many slot canyon adventures in the past I knew the likely fate of the camera if it were to accompany us so no photos. so sorry.
We had gone as far as we could in the boat. the canyon was just too narrow and it was time to jump on the shark. With skis as paddles (hey, we make do remember!) we shoved our way down the windy canyon. Heres the trouble we ran into right off the bat. tight turns. You see when a 10 foot long floaty tries to maneuver the tight turns it gets stuck. this is because it is not bendy. We heave ho'd our way through 2 of them but eventually we had to jump in and and get the dreaded wet (wont be the last time)
ok so this is where the Howard Stern Effect starts coming into play.
We're looking at this cold water and its full of all kinds of debris. like who bloody even knows what. dead rats? maybe. mostly sticks and bugs but as you trudge forward unseen things wrap around your legs and your shorts fill up with the debris which can be quite uncomfortable. Striders (far to similar to spiders) flit across the top of the water. Plus am I the only one that thinks murky cold water filled with debris is a bit eerie? No worries we were only chest deep. (sarcasm)
And so why do we do it? We want to see whats around the corner of course!! and there's ALWAYS another corner to want to see around.
This canyon was gorgeous though. So worth it.
The fun part about these hikes are the many challenges you come to, at each one you ask yourself if you're gonna man up and get through it.
These usually include (but not limited to) super slimy mud holes followed by a tall smooth wall you may have to wedge your body up to get over, sinking mud, lots of bugs, frogs, sometimes mice, lakes of chocolate milk thats been in the cold part of the fridge, and the ominous choke stones- gigantic rocks that are wedged between the canyon walls making either a huge drop off or an almost impassible wall before you... depending on if your going up or down ;)
One of our biggest challenges was that we had little Lucy with us. She can be a bit slow but she trudged though with the rest of us not complaining just enjoying.
So in the beginning of the hike I made the humongous mistake of striking up a conversation about flash floods. As I glanced up the endlessly tall canyon walls to blue skies speckled with a puffy white cloud here and there, I said to my dad...
so no way is there a chance of flash flooding today right? the sky is so blue and mostly clear.
Well actually, he says... (oh no, please no) it is possible to get caught in a flash flood with blue skies... this is because the storm that feeds the flood can be miles away.
Now heres the thing, several years back a couple from Germany were killed hiking through Antelope canyon when a flash flood unexpectedly hit. They were with an experienced guide. Could this be why it was on my mind? possibly.
We unfortunately continued to discuss the particulars of why you WILL DIE if caught in a canyon during a flash flood. Basically it is a huge wall of water mixed with all kinds of things it has picked up on its way to meet you like, trees, sticks, animals, cars... well maybe not cars, who knows though. all kinds of debris rushing a high speeds towards your head and where do you have to go? There is no escape. That is all. You die.
I heard my dad say from behind me... we have reached our suggested turn around time.
Thats great, but we NEED to see whats around the bend.
So on we went, and then again I hear him say, we're 11 minutes past out suggested turn around time.
At that point what stood before us was a section of deep cold murky water with a gigantic choke stone at the end. I wondered if we could even get the little ones over that one. We sent Chad and Ben to scout it out and see how difficult it would be. Chad had a really hard time getting over that one and Ben, well sadly he didn't couldn't quite get up. I took this as a sign that we were at the end of this particular adventure.
But I was wrong.
oh yes. so so wrong.
I voted to turn back. People listen to me... or maybe it was their gut. but we started heading back.
I kid you not, the moment we turned our bodies around we heard a faint thunder off in the distance, (and then some swear to a rush of water) not me though I only heard the thunder, and it was enough. I went into a kind of panicky state. To tell you the truth I was shaking quite a bit. I had my two babies in the canyon and I was picturing my mom (whom we left on the houseboat with Kassidy) finding out a huge chunk of her family died at once and then going kind of crazy and turning into a hoarder... I know, the hoarding thing. haha. It scares me though. The hoarding does.
The thunder continued to roll.
We were moving fast. What was before careful calculated steps, so as not to twist ankles or rip off toe nails, were now quick and un-calculated steps. Jumping into the freezing section of what looked like the river of chocolate in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', was no longer a hesitation. After a few minutes I asked everyone if we could stop for just a minute and say a prayer. My dad offered it. It was this sort of serene moment of peace and trust in the lord.
I don't think I talk about Chad nearly enough on my blog. The dude is like my personal hero. Just an amazing gentle man of greatness willing to do any and all for those he loves. He doesn't complain he just works it out. He picked Lucy up and carried her the whole way back. In our half running state, this was not an easy task I am sure. Oh how I love that man.
The sight of the shark was like Christmas morning when I was 9!
It was still wedged in the crack right were we abandoned it. We swam out to it but this time instead of getting on it, the boys shoved it out sans humans. And even though we treaded water for what seemed like forever, this was the faster way to go about it. Well actually we did originally put Lucy on it but in all the hustle and bustle she got flung off... didn't cry or anything. She's such a good doobie.
I took a picture of the Sky when we got back to the boat.
not so clear blue anymore eh?!
I wish I could show you this one extremely beautiful spot. Oh how I wish I could have brought my camera. Around one bend we came to a natural spring seeping form the slick sandstone rock about 20 feet above our heads. Right where the water started there was this gorgeous greenery clinging to wall. it was so beautiful, I took a picture with my eyes, not that that does you any good. Not like I have the right lens to capture that kind of grander anyway.
You should go check it out for yourself. Mountain sheep Canyon at Lake Powell. Take a picture for me!
p.s.- due to the fact that it is 1:55 am, I would rather die in a flash flood than proof read this right now. soRry fur teh typos.