Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

Tales from the Crypto – Cheesebox Canyon

Posted in Utah by canyoneering on April 9, 2010

Cheesebox Canyon, 3BIII
approximately 6 miles
Cedar Mesa


Adjacent to Gravel Canyon, Cheesebox Canyon is another tributary of White Canyon. Like an impenetrable fortress, descending into Cheesebox Canyon proved to be difficult not because the canyon was hard to find but because the bottom was surrounded by multiple layers of vertical Cedar Mesa sandstone. Through trial and error, beta from Tom Jones and a few lonely cairns, we eventually reached the canyon floor. The narrows and abundance of water began almost immediately as if we were starting right where we left off with Gravel. On a number of occasions passage required squirming on our bellies under boulders. Though overall shorter than Gravel Canyon, the narrows and swims were exquisite and relented only for brief intervals. The exit required more route finding through the wedding cake of rock. Using existing paths, slick rock and micro drainages we did our best to avoid stepping directly on the abundance of cryptobiotic soil as a single footprint can destroy years of cryptobiotic growth.

Returning to our camp with still plenty of daylight, we enjoyed some hard earned afternoon beers, broke down the Cedar Mesa campsite and packed the car. We journeyed north through the land of mega mesas, crossed Lake Powell and began part two of this epic spring break journey.



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