Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

Sierra Canyon, as a Mom

Posted in Southern & Central Arizona by canyoneering on March 22, 2011

Sierra Canyon, 3BIII
4.25 miles
Tonto National Forest – Superstition Wilderness, tributary Lower Fish Creek

A descent down Sierra Canyon was my first technical canyon outing since Wyatt was born nearly four months ago. Two factors made this trip possible for me. 1) Wyatt is sleeping better at night so I have more energy during the day and 2) my dad was in town and couldn’t wait for some grandpa alone time.

Accompanied by David, my sister Abby and our friends Cam and Mark we set out for Fish Creek Canyon and on to Sierra Canyon. I was particularly excited to share another adventure with Abby who fell in love with the sport in the Jug last May while visiting from Boston. Sierra was certainly a step up in difficulty from the Jug, but we knew she was up for the task. I have not been in a technical canyon since last July and although I felt somewhat rusty on rappel I was happy to be back. As we hiked up the mesa we spotted a couple people ahead of us and sure enough they were fellow canyoneers also on their way to Sierra. When we caught up to them, David recognized one of them as Tom whom he had taken a wilderness first aid class with several months ago. Our two groups ended up merging together for the afternoon and Tom was extremely gracious in setting up a guided rappel so we could avoid getting wet by rappelling over the pool. Walking out of Fish Creek it felt good to be dwarfed by towering cliffs and to know who was waiting for me at home.


Like NJ driveway days in Apache Trail Canyon

Posted in Southern & Central Arizona by canyoneering on March 14, 2011

Apache Trail Canyon, 3BII
3.5 miles
Tonto National Forest – Superstition Wilderness

The following post is written by guest blogger Tanner Sloan. Tanner is a childhood friend of the c0-author of this blog. This was Tanner’s second technical canyon descent.

History goes a long way and I was reminded of that when three old friends got together again to hang like the basketball driveway days in New Jersey. While we were eager to meet the newest addition to the Wallace family, David was chomping at the bit to take a few old friends on a canyon adventure. Our troop consisted of three first-timers; Seth, Arie and Lindsay; myself and our fearless leader who you all know. The weather was perfect in the Phoenix valley so we headed to the Apache Trail to get our canyon on. Even though this canyon is considered fairly straightforward, it was an exciting and demanding challenge for this group, but one that we were all ready to conquer. As we descended into the canyon we could see early that the recent rains would make this day a wet one. At the top of the technical section, David gave the group a crash course in rappelling and one by one were off into the abyss. Arie was a natural on rope, Seth uttered swear words at David but made it down like a champ and Lindsay smiled the whole way down until she plunged into the bitterly cold water.  David then lead us through a second rappel, a number of pools, countless down climbs, through a cool section where you pass under a series of giant boulders making the canyon feel more like a cave and finally the nasty bushwhack out.

All in all it was an epic day… some of us had scratches, some of us threatened lawsuits and some of us were blue like a Smurf from the icy cold water, but we all slayed the dragon. I am lucky to have been a part of it and share this great experience with my closest friends.