Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

The desert all to myself in the West Fork of Leprechaun Canyon

Posted in Utah by canyoneering on April 28, 2014
A selfie in the West Fork of Leprechaun Canyon.

A selfie in the West Fork of Leprechaun Canyon.

West Fork of Leprechaun Canyon, 3AII
North Wash


We pull into the Sandthrax campsite just coming back from our descent of Woodchuck and Woody Canyon. As we come around the bend to our cluster of tents I scan for Mike, Cody and Eric. I am hoping they are back and celebrating from their descent of Sandthrax Canyon, an X-rated high stemmer that many say has one of the hardest crux’s of the Colorado Plateau. They are not there. Though we are hoping they would be back we are not alarmed. Brian and I discuss a plan of when we should start looking for them from the rim, with 2- 200 foot ropes in hand in the event we have to send them down a life line. We are still hours away from enacting such a scenario, giving me just enough time for a solo run of the West Fork of Leprechaun Canyon just above our camp. In 2010 I descended the East and Middle Forks of Leprechaun canyon and am excited to complete the series. Mark, Brian and Chris have no interest in  joining me, which means I’m going solo and is what I was hoping for. Solitude in the desert for a few hours is just what I’m looking for.

Looking down into the upper reaches of the West Fork of Leprechaun Canyon.

Looking down into the upper reaches of the West Fork of Leprechaun Canyon.

I move quickly on the approach, wanting to return to camp as soon as possible in the event that assistance will be needed for the Sandthrax crew. In little time I’m rigging the first rappel and am in the dark underworld. The solitude and silence is intoxicating. I continue to move quickly, carefully and deliberately, down climbing, stemming and rappelling here and there. I join the main fork of Leprechaun and can hear voices ahead. My private world is no more. I pursue the voices. I reach a section of canyon that I remember from my middle Lep descent in 2010 where boulders fill the canyon bottom. A small tunnel below the boulders allows passage on hands and knees. As I pop out of the rabbit hole of this tunnel I catch those voices. I say “hello.” In the dim light one of the canyoneers recognizes me from this blog. We have even corresponded some via email about canyons and such. Canyoneering is a small world made even smaller by its corresponding virtual world. The woman with him is on her first canyoneering descent ever. She has an ear to ear smile. It is nice to see. We talk for awhile and then I move ahead. In a short time I’m rounding the bend and heading into our camp. From a distance I can see the Sandthrax crew. No rescue required today. There will be plenty to celebrate tonight. It’s going to get loud. It was nice to have the quiet and this desert all to myself even if for just an hour or so.




3 Responses

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  1. scoffmedia said, on April 28, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Scoff and commented:
    “The woman with him is on her first canyoneering descent ever. She has an ear to ear smile. It is nice to see….”

    Read on for the full details of the awesome adventure our fellow Scoffer, Brittany, encountered on her first canyoneering excursion. Um, so badass!

  2. HH said, on April 28, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Reblogged this on Heather Hendricks and commented:
    What does awesome entail? Diving deep into a canyon in this case. Our good friend, Brittany, recently experienced cayoneering for the first time and gets a shout-out in this interesting blog. Check ‘er out.

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