Return to the Fold: ‘Chillaxing’ in Laughing Baboon & the Halls Creek Narrows
The title of this blog post is somewhat of a misnomer. To me “chillaxing” is not doing a moderately challenging and strenuous half-day technical canyon, followed by backpacking with heavy loads until just before nightfall. All of this in a sunburned landscape with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. It is not Pacific Beach, sipping beer, tossing a frisbee and body surfing, but the sentiment on this day is chill, relaxed and celebratory. Why? The day before we had descended Poe Canyon. Never before had so much anticipation gone into a descent. Never before had I wanted a canyon for so long, but had to wait until my partners and I had enough skills, experience and tools to descend such a canyon. Never before had I been so challenged. Though far from the most physically demanding day I have experienced, Poe dished up obstacles that left me mentally exhausted. The following morning I awake and that descent is behind me; such a difficult and interesting feeling to describe in words.
Laughing Baboon Canyon, aka ‘O’ Canyon, 3BVR
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
We came to the remote Waterpocket Fold for Poe Canyon, but we would not have left without spending sometime with Poe’s closest sister, Laughing Baboon Canyon. Up the steep and smooth slick rock we march to a shallow gully baking in the sun, where a multi-stage rappel gives us access into the canyon bottom. Brian aptly coins it “cliffaneering”. In the canyon proper we quickly face some fun and spicy downclimbs. With my elbows, forearms and knees having left skin behind in Poe, I approach the obstacles as gingerly as my body and skills will allow. Further down canyon more downclimbs, a few rappels, several moderately challenging keepers, some refreshing swims, beautifully sculpted narrows and then it is all over rather quickly. The canyon strikes the perfect balance of just enough challenge to keep things interesting while still keeping the mood light to enjoy the scenery, company and decompress from the previous day’s descent.
With the hog back on our backs we hike up along Halls Creek as the deer flies do their best to take our flesh. Though we are moving slower than during the backpack in, I feel light and am enjoying the walk. About an hour before sunset the walls close in marking the start of the Halls Creek Narrows. Instead of bypassing the Narrows as we had during the approach, we venture in. At the first nice campsite we bed down for a relaxing night of camping surrounded by soaring sandstone walls. The following morning we finish the accordion passage through the Narrows and then further on to our vehicle parked atop Halls Mesa. Several hours later I’m sipping cold root beer on a ferry across Lake Powell and I couldn’t feel more content.