Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 6, 2010

In an unnamed slot canyon near Hanksville

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 11:22 pm
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Having exited the slot... walking downcanyon to climb out

Day off. Ed and I went south of Hanksville to a slot canyon which shall remain unnamed in order to protect it — oh, yes, that’s right, its name is, uhhh, MYSTERY CANYON. Yes. Olive conquered the miles of dirt-road access without a whimper.

Consternation. "HOW am I supposed to get over that edge and descend 100 ft?"

Finding the head of the canyon was difficult enough, but then we had to rappel down into it to start the day. The first rappel was 100 feet — that’s long — and then from the next edge… 175 feet. Folks, that is WAY more than I have ever rappelled, and let’s just call it 17 stories of trepidation.

I was always the first one down the rope, and after we threw it over the edge we could never see the bottom of the climbing rope to know if indeed it reached all the way down. Sometimes the wall is slanty, sometimes the canyon is sinuous, but we rely on information (“beta”) from those who have done it before in order to know our rope lengths. The first one down is admonished never to rappel off the end of the rope accidentally. That would be me. I heeded the admonition.

Ed climbed over; I crawled under. Two huge boulders chocked.

Having no way to bring you into a constricted slot canyon, and finding myself mute in the serpentine beauty of it all, I have nothing to offer but a few photos that clearly do NOT do it justice. It is impossible to express the depth and lack of sunlight penetration and organic scoured walls. I was in awe for the entire several hours we were inside. It was a profoundly satisfying day of exploration and discovery.

Bottom of slot, 3 pm. Ed coils the rope.

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