Just getting back from Utah and had myself an adventure! Last year, around the same time, I found myself in Southern Utah for 5 days. Exploring the truly incredible landscape that is that part of the world. One in particular slot canyon in Escalante National Park eluded me. Hiking by myself the waist deep and cold water thwarted my attempt at this place last year. This year…while the water remained and was a longer slog, I was able to successfully enter this magical place. Getting to the entrance of this slot greets you with brown water….and judging by my experience last year, and the fact that the low the night before was around 20F…very cold. I brought my waterproof pants again and seal skinz (socks) to be able to make the adventure more comfortable (oh, and long underwear under the pants). This time around there was a group of 3 women that had hiked down just in front of me. They weren’t expecting the water like I was but one of them was adventurous enough to want to give it a shot. As we ventured deeper in to the slot it narrows further and further until the choke (where I was stymied last year), except this time the water level was slightly lower, I wasn’t 5 weeks off a knee injury, and there was the fact that I wasnt alone. My excitement once stepping up in to the main chamber was palpable. Not only did we make it in but there were NO footprints. We were the first ones in since either the last flood or the crazy dust storm the day before could have filled them in. Either way…wow! My accomplice spent about 15 minutes with me and then I was alone…for the next 2.75 hours. Over the course of the whole experience inside the canyon I heard voices two different times…both inquiring as to if there was anyone in there (I left extra supplies outside the entrance to lower my load). Both times they failed to make the journey. Sollitude! This allowed me to study and shoot at my own pace without having to worry about any sort of pleasantries :p As the time passed and the sun a bit too vertical the amazing glow in the canyon eventually washed out…and then it was time to go. Getting back in the COLD water was a necessity but the warm sun once exited was very welcome. So was the victory beer back at the car 🙂
Some behind the scenes shots with my phone are added…and yes…a few more photographs to come (plus the rest of the trip; Goblin Valley, San Rafael Swell & Bryce Canyon).
One of my main goals for this trip was to finally get to explore some slot canyons first hand. Having seen pictures over the years of various shapes and colors this part of the expedition was what got me most excited. After a dissapointing first day in which I was thwarted by mother nature and water that was deeper than my dry pants (read; <40F degrees and NARROW), my second attempt at different slots was much more of a success.
But of course success doesn’t come with some errors. After hiking up the first slot of the day I encountered some rangers who just better marked a trail over the top between the 2 canyons so that the second could be down-climbed instead of the more traditional way. Well, what I didnt expect was to spend an additional 1.5hrs wandering around a random wash in Escalante trying to find it. Finally I back tracked and came to rest from the sun under a tree and well would you believe it there was the trail heading up to the left. Doh!
Finally getting to the top enterance there was a rockfall that had blocked an easy entry soooooo….down climbing. First squeezing my way on to one of the rocks before the 7′ drop to the canyon floor. Too far to slide with my 25lb pack on so on to my belly, sliding to the edge, lower the bag as far as I could and ‘poof’, on to the floor. Now for me.
Gaining entry to this slot was interesting however I do not think I was mentally prepared for how narrow this actually was. For a majority of the time I was not able to carry my backpack but had to hold it by the strap and turn my body sideways and drag this ‘not so light’ pack behind me. Every now and then stopping of course as the texture, lines and light were just amazing. Besides the extremely narrow rock walls, because I was descending instead I would encounter people coming up! Uh oh. Then it was finding a spot were we could all slide by each other. Entertaining for sure. Admittedly, about half way down there was a point where the never-ending narrow walls started to etch its way in to my consciousness and had to talk myself down to calm. Never a dull moment!
This particular section of rock wall had these amazing knobs on the sides, as most of this one did, and the reflected light was glowing perfectly. Setting up a very awkward tripod position I was able to catch this ephemeral light and unique landscape. There is one thing I know is that I could come back here for days and experience different light every day and capture something new here. Truly a magnificent experience!