Adventures in the Swell – Lower Squeeze Canyon
Lower Squeeze Canyon, aka North Fork Seger’s Hole Canyon, 4BIVR
approximately 9 miles
San Rafael Swell
I knew little of what to expect of the canyons and the wilderness we would face in the San Rafael Swell. It was new territory for all the members of our party. I am not sure if it was by design or because I was so darn busy, but I had read virtually no beta or trip reports of the canyons we would face.
We made our way north of Hanksville, past the swell of rock to the west that rises like an impending tsunami about to crash over the plain. It was exciting to see new country. Off of the interstate and into the heart of the San Rafael Swell, I began to get a sense of how big, rugged and remote this place is. Despite the desolate character of this wilderness there was no shortage of people as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) was having their annual round-up in the same area of where we were setting up our base of operations. Finding a suitable campsite was challenging but after some searching and backtracking we found a place to call home.
The following morning began with a pleasant walk down Muddy Creek as we hiked in and and out of the shadows, crossing back and forth across the shallow waters until a well defined use trail lead us out of the canyon and up the Moroni Slope under a scorching sun. After gaining the saddle, some creative route finding was required down through cliff bands and across sandstone fins to reach the canyon bottom somewhere between the middle and lower sections of Squeeze Canyon, also known as the North Fork of Seger’s Hole.
The canyon got going quickly and as we moved at an aggressive pace we could hear voices ahead bouncing off the walls. Looking down a small drop into a pothole we could see two fellow canyoneers, one of whom was writhing around nearly waist deep in quicksand the likes of which I have never seen. It was an interesting way to see a person for the first time that you have never met before. Before long, Eric, from our own group was in the same position as this gentleman, who we would soon learn to be Ken, also known by his online handle, SpineSnaper. Learning from their predicaments, I sprinted across the quicksand so to not give it a chance to take hold of me. Once everybody was on solid ground we made our introductions and some small chit chat before passing Ken and his partner, Jasper.
Evidence throughout the Squueze suggested that the canyon had flashed very recently. The potholes were not tip-top but near full. We moved quickly through the canyon avoiding many rappels by either down climbing, sliding or jumping into the pools below. On most of these drops we would send someone down first on rappel via a meat anchor to check that the pool below was safe for jumping. We ended up completing the entire canyon with just five actual rappels despite reports of up two dozen. Of course we had the conditions of the canyon to thank for this statistic. The potholes may not have been in full “keeper” status but they did require some buddy boosting, beached whale maneuvers and lots of physical exertion to get through. With all of the mud and quicksand we were exhausted by the time we got back to Muddy Creek for the pleasant stroll back to camp.