Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

A tight squeeze through Stone Donkey

Posted in Utah by canyoneering on May 19, 2009

Stone Donkey Canyon, 3AV
24 miles
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
05/11/09 – 05/12/09


After a grueling day of Voodoo Canyon, David and I drove (or more accurately I should say David drove and I slept) to Page, Arizona, for the second part of our mini adventure vacation. It felt wonderful to get a good night’s sleep Sunday even if it was in a Motel 6. After a quick breakfast (a McMuffin for David and a personal size cereal from the gas station for me) we had a short drive across the border into Utah to the Hackberry Canyon trailhead. Hackberry Canyon is beautiful with a shallow meandering stream cutting through soaring sandstone walls.

Our initial plan was to hike in 10 miles to the head of Stone Donkey Canyon, but even with a decent night’s sleep I was still way too exhausted and sore from Voodoo. Instead of killing ourselves with mileage we decided to set up camp at mile 4.5 from the trailhead. We got into camp around noon and as soon as the tent was set up it was naptime. I passed out for a couple hours, woke up to eat lunch then promptly fell back to sleep. After waking up from my final nap of the day we took a side hike to Sam Pollock arch. The impressive arch is roughly 100 ft across and 100 ft high. Getting back to camp before dark we made Mac and cheese for dinner and were asleep before 9pm.

From camp it is about 4.5 miles to the head of Stone Donkey Canyon. Dropping into the canyon requires a 200 ft rappel the last 80 of which is overhanging. The crazy thing about a 200 ft rappel is that by the time you reach the bottom your rappel devise is on fire; it is too hot to touch.

Once in Stone Donkey the fun begins. This was the first canyon I have been in that requires walking sideways holding my backpack to the side while squeezing through the tight passage. The interesting thing about being in such a narrow confining space is that I had no desire to really stop and admire my surroundings. Every slight opening was a mental relief. I had the conflicting feelings of having a ton of fun with the need to keep moving to get out of there! From the rappel to the end of the canyon it took David and I less than an hour. After an amazing descent of this slot canyon, David and I hiked back the way we came to our car and then drove back to Phoenix.



2 Responses

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  1. Mario Dominis said, on November 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument should have long ago been elevated to the status of the National park. Its ageless, and I hope eternal, beauty must be preserved for all ages. It is absolutely shameful that some powerful mining and financial interess, along with certain bunch of politicians and bureaucrats push for cancelation of National Monument status so that they can demolish the entire area through strip-mining. At the time when President Clinton was in a process of establishing it, I was in the area, and I remember debating the issue with local residents, who believed the miss-information coming from business lobbies and Republican National Committee. They were promissed steady employment and good wages, what they didn’t tell them was that strip-minning is a finite operation, which leaves behind people out of work and permanent devastation. (Arsenic and cyanid based compounds, which poison the ground and water shed). The irony of the situation was that the company which applied for strip-mining was from UK?!?

  2. […] technical canyons without the company of others. We could only remember of one previous descent, Stone Donkey. Canyoneering is such a social sport that we cherish that shared time with our friends, but today […]

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