Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Break Canyoneering

I've always loved Spring Break; when I was in school in Oregon it always happened right around my birthday and usually meant a good ski trip, and I love the transition of winter into spring and think it's great that public schools "celebrate" that; I wish more businesses did the same!  Even in my careers I've tried to do a fun spring trip, and over the last few years the timing of my trips have corresponded to a the timing of a school district in Lyme, NH, where young Sawyer Hanlon typically confounds his teachers.  Greg dragged Sawyer out to Utah to go canyoneering when he was nine; I wasn't on that trip but didn't need to be; Greg had Sawyer drive for him while he navigated! (lots of seat cushions so he could see AND reach the pedals!).  Since then myself, Sue, and more recently Mike and Jane have been joining the mid-April canyoneering fest, and this year proved to be yet another good one. 

We started out in Robber's Roost, a veritable canyoneering hotbed.  Mike, brother Paul and I missed the first day in Larry Canyon, which sounds like a nice long technical grovel - and a bit wet and cold, which was NOT the beta - and the next day the boyz headed into a canyon called Not-Mindbender, while the girls and Sawyer decided to forego another possibly-frigid day and explore Aron Ralston's Blue John canyons.  Paul and I had done a shorter adjacent canyon some years ago and weren't that keen on it; our recollection of the 150 foot free rappel from an "anchor" of a small pile of rocks was still somewhat fresh in our minds.  But Not Mindbender was awesome:  full value slot groveling/down climbing:

some nice swirly canyons:

And a final rappel from a far-better anchor:

Here's the best canyoneer in New Hampshire:
And here's some homeless guy we picked up along the way:
I love having someone else to beat on about looking like almost as much of a ragamuffin as I do!

We next hit up the infamous Chambers Canyon, a tight one.  Sawyer is now 13, but he's still a waif, and it wasn't a walk-through for him:

and Mike, with The Ass that has propelled him to much hockey success, wriggling along behind:

Team Hanlon just before things got a little tense in a particularly-tight spot:

and the cool exit that begs for a team photo:

In the words of the ever-glib Greg Hanlon:

"Blown Trow on day 2 is sub-optimal"
One somewhat overlooked aspect of canyoneering is that the exit hikes are about as sublime as hiking gets:

but even mellow terrain can be dangerous, so it's best to hike flat slickrock in full protective gear!

Over in the San Raf swell we did some more slot-grovelin:

with some interesting moves:

and some natural rock art that was quite inspiring:

And as our friends were skiing in the Wasatch, we got the dregs of the storm:

As a result, a night of sitting around the campfire turned into a cozier night of hunkering inside the Suburbian Falcon:

Undaunted, we dropped into the bowels again the next day:

Hoping that we didn't rap onto this rock:

and upon our re-entrance to the surface, we saw something that got Mike playin' the blues:

but at least the rental Jeep SUV's spare tire was one of those limited-use go-kart tires.....
I was trying to get back to Green River in time to catch a train back to Salt Lake to attend Craig's memorial service, and despite this setback things were still going well, until.....

At least it was snowing too!  Sue is really happy about this new development:

this isn't very fair, because Sue is pretty much all about positive energy, and this is a much more-typical view:

Upon our return to Green River I find out from Virg at Ray's that the train doesn't stop in GR unless the conductor knows there's a passenger waiting.  In classic TD form, despite the fact that I have known for days that I wanted to be on this train I haven't bought a ticket, but hey, no problem, I'll just use my handy-dandy smart phone to buy one and they'll be able to....I don't know, send a Morse Code message or somesuch to the conductor of our archaic train to tell him I await his arrival and hopeful stoppage. 

But lo and behold.....the train is sold out!  Huh?  But people don't ride trains in America!  How can it be sold out?  Did they fill it with livestock, or coal?  In any case, it's clear that train was not going to be pulling into the station for me to hop on, so I had to go to....plan B.  If I had one, that is. 

After an hour of fruitless asking of gas station visitors - most of whom cringed when they saw me coming, knowing whatever came out of my mouth was not what they wanted to hear - for a ride I went back over to Ray's and immediately saw a few folks in a booth who were halfway through their burgers and sho nuff, not only was one of them heading back to SLC but he was driving right through Sugarhouse.  So I made it back in time for the memorial, despite myself. Craig - if you are out there, and shaking your head at me in wry dismay....thanks!

And another in a long string of great spring breaks....thanks again to Teams Hanlon and Elovitz for making it out here.  More canyon adventures await. 

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