Indian Creek

nature, Outdoors, outside

So its been awhile since our canyoneering adventure. Since then we spent a few days in Moab, recharging at little cafes while it rained. We drove around in Arches National Park since it’s right outside Moab, but honestly I wasn’t blown away by the park. It was flooded with people, and all the hikes they offer have so many people walking on them it must look like lines of ants going to some huge drop of jelly from above. Moreover, due to roadwork, you can’t even drive to Devil’s Garden where the majority of the Arches are located. Nonetheless, it’s certainly beautiful and we did see the famous “Delicate Arch” that is on the Utah State plate. In retrospect, I think I wasn’t impressed because I’ve been in Utah for a few weeks now, and it’s covered with beautiful views that are only made better by the lack of people.

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Anyway, after Moab we went to Indian Creek which is located partially in Canyonlands National Park and Bears Ears National Monument (the main monument in contention). Although I have much to write about the current debate over Bears Ears, I have reached out to the San Juan County Commissioners (San Juan is geographically bordering Bears Ears making the commissioners are in direct contact with Sec. of the Interior Zinke), and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition ( the group who proposed the monument to Obama), and would like to wait for a response before really hashing it out in a post. So until then….

We traveled an hour south, and entered the 9 mile stretch of road that is surrounded by world renown crack climbing due to its expansive selection of aesthetic splitter cracks. Indian Creek is truly beautiful, and even with all they hype surrounding it in the climbing community, it’s big enough such that you don’t have crowds at the crags.

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Me on a splitter.

It was close to dark by the time we arrived so we decided to set up camp, and make dinner which consisted of five bags of ramen, two chicken for Eli and Madi, and three vegan oriental for Zach and I. Anyway, the ramen was fantastic, especially after Madi shared the beta of adding a few scoops of peanut butter to the whole mix. However, there is no running water in Indian Creek, everything is pack in pack out (you’re even suppose to poop in a bag). Thus the ramen, which we made the next day as well, took a big hit on our water supplies that were suppose to last for the next three days.

The next day we woke up, and drove up to South Six Shooter, a prominent, stand-alone structure of rock, jutting out of a mountain of talus, which sits upon a high mesa.

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South Six Shooter (Photo from summitpost.org)

We drove around confusing cattle roads and river beds before we found the main trail and drove around the east side of the mesa until we saw cairns resting on the side of the steep slope. Our parking spot had two cows in it, and as we pulled up they simply stared us down, until they randomly turned and went off bucking for twenty feet until they stopped to stare again. It wasn’t until we got out of the car that they really ran off.

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The cows leaving. North Six Shooter in the back. 

While Eli racked up, Zach and I worked on finding the best way to bring the drone to the top of the tower. We put it in sleeping bags, emptied 60 liter backpacks, turned it every which way, but it wouldn’t work. Finally, after extensive prototyping, we settled on putting it in Zach’s rope bag wrapped in a sweatshirt and puffy. And in my bag, I carried three liters of water, the rope, the drone propellers, and the drone remote control. After brushing our teeth, we started to hike up the mesa. The path was narrow with no switchbacks making me breath hard… If you don’t know me, you might think I’m in great shape and a fast hiker, but the truth is I’m awful at hiking. I mean just atrocious. Zach was behind me, but even with his sprained ankle he stayed right with me.  Anyway, we made it to the top of the mesa which gave us flat land for a good bit, so I took off my coat and refused to rest. Eventually we ascend the pyramid of talus as well, and by the time we got to the base of South Six Shooter we were startled by how small it was.

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At the base.

The collection of connected towers could be done in a single pitch if you went up one of the cracks. However, we choose the longer and easier way which gained altitude as you traversed from the shortest tower to the tallest.

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Route up (Photo from gearlooptopo.com)

The route was done quickly as Eli hardly placed pro, and Zach and I simu-climbed. Even though the climb itself was uneventful, the view was definitely five stars. Canyons of brilliant colors roll on as far as the eye can see.

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At the top!

And of course, we didn’t bring the drone up for fun. Zach, whom I trained to fly the drone so he could get shots of me climbing, got the drone from the rope back, while I set up the phone connection. He placed it a few feet away from us and up it went. Zach circled it around us, and panned out over the whole landscape.  When is was time to land, Zach hovered it above Eli, who grabbed it and gently brought it to the tower top, while I pushed the land button. #teamwork (The footage is phenomenal, so just wait for my cumulative video coming out next week).

Overall, the day was a success and we rapped down a little, summited both towers, and then rappelled to the ground. Eli climbed a beautiful 5.10 splitter on the face of the tower, and we descend towards another beautiful night of ramen.

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Fry Canyon

nature, Outdoors, outside

Yesterday we woke up outside Hite, Utah beside a gorgeous canyon where the Colorado flows. After packing up we decided to fit in a day of canyoneering before we went to Moab.

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We were close to the bridge that you can see arcing over the last view-able part of the river.

Eli found us a quick hour-long excursion in Fry Canyon called Fry-Lette. It all started quite well as we jumped down into the stunning curves and radiant colors of the slot canyon. Although we were expecting a swim, as the website called for summer wetsuits (I had a tee-shirt on…same thing?), we mostly hiked on mud, and I slipped a few times in my Crocs, resulting in me carrying a couple extra pounds of mud in my shoes. But luckily, the most Fry-Lette asked of us was a quick twenty feet wade through hip-deep, fifty degree water.

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The beginning of Fry-Lette

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Zach walking in the canyon.

Due to the lack of swimming we finished well short of an hour, and decided to do the whole Fry Canyon experience– rap and all. Eli and Madi ran back to the car for a rope and harnesses while Zach ordered me to lift rocks. Right when they got back he spotted a scorpion, and we decided it was time to go. We hiked through the canyon for around forty minutes, seeing petrified wood, fossils, and rich colored rocks from emerald to garnet red. As we walked, Eli continually admonished us about the risk we were taking. Without being able check the weather (no service or civilization),  we didn’t know how high of chance we were taking with flash floods. However, we all decided to venture on, but kept an ever present eye for escape routes. Soon enough though the canyon narrowed severely and dropped down into darkness.

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View for the rap bolts

We found the rappel rings and Eli pulled the rope through. A few seconds after he chucked it down we heard an echoing splash. Oh man, Fry-Lette was nothing compared to this. Eli rappelled down first, going around 60 feet before confirming our swimming fate. Zach went next, then Madi, and finally me.

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Down I go.

I lowered down to find everyone on a sloping slide-like feature with very little space. Eli’s hiking boots were already in a few inches of brown water and it continually lapped at our slide. I took myself off rappel and slid into Madi who was essentially slide tackling Zach’s sprained ankle which was keeping us all from the pool. Even the function of pulling rope created a scary amount of movement to our precarious position.

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The surface world.

Finally though, like little ducklings in single file, Eli leaped and let out an immediate groan over the temperature, than Zach plunged in, Madi tried a butt slide attempt, and finally I dove.

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After twenty feet we were standing in mud, and it continued back and forth like​ that for another ten minutes. Suddenly though, we waded through our last ice cold puddle, and emerged in an open canyon with Anasazi ruins up in the overhangs of the cliffs.

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The ruins are in the top left.

We walked on for another thirty minutes before deciding the established and “obvious” trail out was lost on us, and Eli scouted our own way out with a bit of chimney and slab climbing. After another forty minute walk we were back at the car, mostly dry, and eating PB&Js with bananas. Moral of the story canyoneering is hype.