Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Music Canyon and Zero-G Canyon

Hm, so apparently when I said "ease back into it" I was subconsciously thinking a pace of one post every two or three years. Whoops. In my defense, it's been a damned busy couple of years. I'll get to that at some point. But for now, I thought I'd post a few photos from a recent canyoneering trip to Music and Zero-G canyons, which are in the San Rafael Swell area of Utah. (By the way, all of the photos are clickable for larger versions).

We drove out during the day, which is actually a luxury compared to our usual post-work departure. It turned out well, because we got there just in time for one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen. These photos don't even do the clouds justice - they were the most vivid red possible. I think the red sunlight reflected off the red rocks and got a little extra saturated.

A campsite that does not suck. THE CLOUDS ARE ON FIRE!

We were camped at the Hidden Splendor Mine site. Most of the mines in the area were uranium mines, but they're closed now. There's still an airstrip there, though it looks more like a slightly run down gravel road. It's also on a low point, with cliffs on three sides, so you'd need a pretty brave or stupid pilot to fly in there.

The next day we headed out early to do Music Canyon. It's a long one - three miles of approach hike, a couple of miles in-canyon, and then a six mile exit hike down Muddy Creek back to the campsite.


The canyon itself is quite pretty, full of the flowing rock forms and interesting lighting that we all love about the canyons.

Looking down a little "staircase"

This particular one was also full of sticky, clinging, slippery clay-based mud. In places it was a foot or more deep and would try to suck the shoes right off your feet. But the bigger problem is that it makes you lose traction, which is not really ideal. Thankfully we had no mishaps.

Most of the group is actually in this photo, but two are way off in the distance.

Deciding whether to sneak around that little corner of rock with the not-great footing, or go through the pool of muddy water. I believe he opted for the water.

Kendre doing her thing in the canyon

Here's some of that interesting light I was talking about. On the left there Bonnie is setting up a rappel for the rest of us weaklings. She was the only one of the group that free climbed down the entire canyon. She also climbed back up a section that the rest of us rappelled... twice. Bonnie's a badass.

Alcoves make for a good picture frame, right?
Canyons go by pretty fast - you gotta take a rest when you can.

High style is the name of the canyoneering game
High style is the name of the canyoneering game

The wind had blown a dusting of white sand over everything - it looked like snowfall. Which might happen in the winter, but not in October.

At the exit of the canyon proper, standing on the bank of Muddy Creek.
This is at the end of the canyon proper, on the bank of the aptly-named Muddy Creek.

Canyon Crew after the canyon. Lee's friend had given her some fancy soap hoping for marketing photos... instead she got this. Oh well.
A little celebration at the end of the canyon!

Wading down Muddy Creek.
So we started the long hike downriver. It's actually rather pretty. It's a bit like the Narrows in Zion. It's not as impressive, but it's similar.

There's always time for a selfie!

Bill slogging his way down the Muddy.

The following day a few of us headed out to do Zero-G, a well known canyon on the other side of the Swell. The name comes from a well-known "jumper" in the canyon - a permanent, spring-fed pool deep enough to jump into. 

Approach to Zero-G Canyon
Here's a look into Zero-G from the rim during the approach hike. As usual, the canyon itself is deep and dark. 

Zero-G packs a lot of variety. There are some nice open areas, and some very squeezy parts. 

This is a relatively famous "jumper" in Zero-G, a deep spring-fed pool that's always there. But I had the depth checked first anyway. Woohoo!
And here's the famous "jumper." It's definitely a rush. And yes, I did have someone check the depth just in case. 

This is the exit of Zero-G. We actually came from further back into the cliff, and only a little bit higher up.
The exit of the canyon is this tiny crack above a pool. Bill had skipped the canyon that day, so we were lucky enough to get photos of ourselves. This may look a little bit high, but it's not a problem. You actually have to try to get out of the crack because it's so tight, so falling out is not a concern.

Getting ready for a swim Made it out!
And there you have it folks! There are more photos on SmugMug. And I'll try to sneak in some more blog posts soon.