"On each side rose the canyon walls, roughly perpendicular. There was no way to continue except by dropping into the pool. I hesitated. Beyond this point there could hardly be any returning, yet the main canyon was still not visible below. Obviously the only sensible thing to do was to turn back. I edged over the lip of stone and dropped feet first into the water."
Escaladores del canons:
El Lobo Grande
Canyoneering can be dangerous. It presents a unique set of challenges with associated risks. Our group elected to forego a Nankoweep backpack, dropping 6000' because of a storm front and Chacal's health. (More on this in Men Behaving Badly Section)
Our alternative plan was to do Marble Canyon day trips down Rider and Jackass Canyons to the Colorado River/Grand Canyon. We also planned on climbing the Vermilion Cliffs via the Spencer Trail at Lee's Ferry. The slot canyons in these areas are beautiful, but can be extremely dangerous when it rains. Hikers have been killed in flash floods generated by thunderstorms as far as 25 miles away.
We took these risks seriously, but elected to take them one canyon at a time, study our maps for escape routes, watch for changes in the weather, stay extremely alert and make good decisions before entering any narrows.
In Jackass Canyon, we made an excellent decision and reacted quickly. A high sense of awareness and playing it smart enabled us to get out of the path of the grim reaper and to canyoneer another day.
"Like a rock, I was strong as I could beLike a rock, nothin’ ever got to meLike a rock, I was something to seeLike a rock"
We were able to easily find scenic, remote, Rider Canyon after 14 miles of driving backroads in House Rock Valley. We encountered a beautiful herd of pronghorn antelopes along the way.
It was a steep descent to the bottom through the Kaibab Sandstone. Once in the canyon bottom, several falls and pools presented route problems that were easily resolved. A 20' rappel and a 5.1 downclimb was required over slippery rock.
"Twenty years nowWhere’d they go? Twenty yearsI don’t knowSit and I wonder sometimesWhere they’ve gone"
At the mouth of the stunning canyon we had lunch in the sun at the mighty Colorado.
"And sometimes late at nightWhen I’m bathed in the firelightThe moon comes callin’ a ghostly whiteAnd I recallRecall"
The six mile round trip took us close to 6 hours, including lunch. At the top, we pulled out our camp chairs and enjoyed our cervezas.
It rained all night long.
The next morning we hiked 1500' to the top of the cliffs just north of Lee's Ferry. On top of the Paria Plateau--an intriguing desert of sand dunes and slickrock, we explored and took in the views. To the North we found Lake Powell, the Kaiparowitts Plateau and Navajo Mountain. Directly below the Colorado twisted through the depths Glen Canyon. To the South, Lee's Ferry and the heavy flowing Paria River were in view. The clouded Vermilion Cliffs framed this scene and Marble Canyon could be seen in the distance, snaking it's way towards the Kaibab Plateau. Awesome!!!!!
El Chacal taking in magnificent Glen Canyon
"Like a rock, the sun upon my skinLike a rock, hard against the windLike a rock, I see myself againLike a rock"
The afternoon weather looked good and after much discussion we decided to cautiously go down Jackass that afternoon. After heading down a sandy wash it started to sprinkle. Cliff walls then formed, and after two miles we reached a 30' drop off into some beautiful narrows. There was much water in the creek bed and a gushing waterfall had formed. The wet rock looked much too dangerous. At best, we would get soaked going down and then be in the precarious narrows for a mile. It was time to fold them and head back. There would be another day. Maybe.
A slippery thirty foot rap into the narrows of Jackass canyon
A small distance up canyon. Chacal asked "What's that noise" Dingo thought it sounded like a waterfall. El Lobo responded with "UP!"
We quickly climbed 20' up a wall. There was only seconds to spare as a raging river of mud and debris tore down canyon below us.
A half hour later the flow subsided and we were able to hurriedly skirt the canyon and make it back to our vehicle. A huge waterfall of mud continued to drop off the plateau.
At the car we broke out the Guinness and toasted living another day.
We kew the risk and accepted it anyway. It's what we live for.
Not entering the narrows and reacting quickly were the good decisions and we relished them.
We also realized that this event may have been a wake up call.
"Like a rock. standin’ arrow straightLike a rock, chargin’ from the gateLike a rock, carryin’ the weightLike a rock"
Men Behaving Badly
Chacal, for not feeling "comfortable" about dropping 6000' into Nankoweep because of his little case of the sniffles and 14 stitches in his leg.
Chacal, Dingo & El Lobo for electing not to take on the challenge of backpacking into Nankoweep during inclement weather and opting for staying in three different Vermilion Cliffs/Marble Canyon Lodges and drinking muchas cervezas.
Lorenzo for again not making a great adventure due to being afraid of his boss, Ricccccccchhhhhhhhhhard.
Chacal for refusing to drive, even though it was his turn. Note: El Lobo drove to South Rim for South Bass/Boucher.
Chacal for trying to be "just one of the guys" when he is, in fact, a filthy rich Republican, and lives in a 1.7 million dollar home in Paradise Valley.
Dingo for making really "weird noises" while he was sleeping.
El Lobo who could not see in the dark and had difficulty finding his way to the bathroom six times one night, bumping into the beds of Dingo and Chacal.
Chacal and Dingo, rico, uncaring Republicans that attacked a very nice, intelligent, caring, liberal young man in the Cliff Dweller's Lodge.
Chacal and Dingo, rico, uncaring Republicans that conspired against the moderate El Lobo during the paper, fist, rock contests, relegating poor El Lobo to the shitty roll away bed with no blankets.
El Lobo for flaunting all his new canyoneering gear. Chacal for being a jealous rico Republican and wanting it all.
Dingo for wearing a bright red ultralight rain jacket over his "Blue Boobies" T-shirt. This event ended his streak of wearing the same Hawaiian Brown Dirt Shirt for 678 straight times.
Chacal for not hiring El Lobo as his crack salesman after El Lobo aced the brutal interview administered by the inebriated Chacal on the backroad from Rider Canyon.
The waitress (Thing) at the Vermilion Cliff's Lodge with the huge gut, and pants down to her asshole, that attacked the rico Republican Chacal, and left him speechless.
El Lobo for greeting all outdoorsmen at the lodge restaurants with "You guys been fishin?" (Lee's Ferry is one of the primo places in the world to trout fish)
Chacal's famous quote "Because I don't want to die" in response to "Why don't you want to go down Jackass Canyon today." Chacal later revised his thinking to "Let's seize the opportunity." Did he learn to shift his position from that dirty liberal Democrat, Kerry?
Chacal the rico Republican, for wearing his Grateful Dead T-shirt for the 25th straight time.
Chacal, possibly the most prolific farter that ever hiked the Grand Canyon for a very weak and disappointing performance.
Chacal, and Dingo for "mmmmmmmmmmmmmming" the cowgirl with the bodacious TA Tas at the gas station in Camp Verde.
Thanks to Dingo Dan for driving.