Saturday, August 30, 2014

In Which We Get Scratched and Stabbed a Lot

So, it's been another week at school, and by the time the weekend rolls around, we're definitely ready to hit a canyon. This week our friend Sarah suggested one called Headdress Canyon, which is up in the Superstition Mountains. Sarah's a little obsessed with the Superstitions. But, turns out they're pretty cool. Anyway, this canyon was nice. It was really short, had a couple nice rappels, a couple fun downclimbs, and one unavoidable pool of water that was nice on a warm day. Turns out the Superstitions aren't far enough away from the Valley to get away from the heat of said Valley. There were two things that really stood out about this canyon. One, IT WAS LESS THAN AN HOUR AWAY! Seriously, that is fantastic. Back in Provo, the closest canyons are at least three hours out, and most of them are more than four by the time you've done the dirt road driving. This one was seriously less than an hour from our house. Fantastic. Second, we learned today that everything that grows in the Superstition Mountains is pointy. Seriously. Whether it be your saguaros or barrel cacti or prickly pears or just a bush or something, it's all pointy. Also, I marked a milestone with this canyon. It was my 60th canyon. I actually marked a milestone with Sundance Canyon last week that I didn't realize. That one was my 70th canyon descent (counting repeats). So, I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself at this point. At any rate, that's about all I've got to say about this canyon. Let the following pictures tell the story better than my words.

Hello, the Superstition Mountains!

Four Peaks in the background. I intend to climb that mountain at some point.

Rocks! This canyon was actually in limestone. My first limestone canyon!


Looking down canyon.


Sarah going down the rabbit hole to the last rappel.

Nancy getting ready for her turn.

Sarah rappelling.

Nancy rappelling.

Our new friend Erin rappelling.

Me on a downclimb. Notice my moobs and gut. I've got the moobs like Jagger.

Looking back at the very pokey bushwack out of the bottom of the canyon.

It looks like this picture was taken crooked, but actually the saguaro is just leaning. Yay
for Arizona canyons!
So, that's that. We're having a great time down here. Tomorrow we're heading to Vegas to trade back Nancy's parents' truck for our trusty old (and I mean old) Honda, which should be nice, because after that we'll be spending a lot less money on gas. But, here's hoping that the two adventures we've had in the past couple weeks are just a precursor to tons that we have down here in the future! So far, despite its frequent pokiness, we're loving Arizona! This is Captain Danger out.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

In Which We Visit the Arizona Outdoors

So we've been here for a few weeks now. So far we like the area. Turns out that Phoenix is really pretty! Also, our jobs are going well. I'm really, really enjoying being an actual History teacher. Turns out I've been right to want to do it all these years. At least, so far I feel that way. But, I'm not blogging about that. No, I'm blogging about the awesome Arizona outdoors. We've gotten out the past three weekends, and it's been awesome. I'll start at the beginning, three weeks ago.

Two weeks ago it was only like 95 degrees, so we decided to go hiking on one of the trails near our house. It was a trail where only members of the HOA that our apartment complex is part of are allowed, so we felt pretty exclusive. I think this trail was called Sidewinder, though I also think that we did the short version. Whatever it was, it was pleasant. We climbed a hill, had a nice view of the valley, saw a lot of cacti, and got a look at the desert landscape around here. I've always enjoyed the desert, and this isn't the same as southern Utah by any means, but so far I've liked it. Here are some pictures from that.

Getting started. Notice Nancy's fantastic Korean hiking hat.

Saguaro skeleton! I think these cacti are so cool.

Starting up the hill. Notice how I look awesome.

Looking out over the Valley.

Once again, the reader should note that I look awesome.

Nancy looks really attractive.

South Mountain in the background.

So, that was that. All told we were probably out less than an hour. Last weekend we went on a triple-date with some friends to go rappelling. We went to a place called Papago Park, and I was fairly impressed. There were some pretty big rocks, and I think the rappel we did was like 150 feet, which is nothing to sneeze at. I didn't take any rappelling pictures because we have tons of those, but I did take a few of the scenery. With my phone, so the quality will probably not be fantastic. Here they are.

Then, yesterday, we went canyoneering! We went with our friend Dustin and another friend named Julia and a bunch of random strangers. I was actually a little apprehensive, because it was the first trip I've been on where I or one of the people who either taught me or I've taught canyoneering wasn't in charge of the trip. I think I'm kind of a control freak. But, in the end it worked out awesome. We did two canyons up on the Mogollon (try pronouncing that word right if you're not from Arizona. I'm still not sure how I'm supposed to say it.) Rim called Bear and Sundance, and I have to say, they were AWESOME! Seriously, some of the most bang for your buck canyons I've ever been in. They were easy to get to, easy to get out of, and the narrows were CRAZY beautiful. Like, in terms of sheer beauty, they seriously rivaled any Utah canyon I've been in, and that's saying something, because I've been in some sick Utah canyons. Don't get me wrong, Choprock remains my favorite canyon, but these ones were great. They had rappels, some downclimbs (I'm pleased to say that I was one of the best downclimbers in the group), and Sundance even had a couple potholes that were full enough to jump, which was fantastic. Sundance ended with a 180 foot rappel through a waterfall, a large part of which was free-hanging. They were seriously great canyons and I look forward to going back again. Plus, I solved the worry of me not being in charge by kind of just taking charge. I guess I am a control freak. No one seemed to mind, though. I got the idea that I may have been the most knowledgeable one there when it came to rigging and techniques and things like that. Now I sound like a controlling, high-minded jerk-face. Maybe I am. But I still felt like everyone had a good time regardless. I certainly did. I would also definitely go canyoneering with all of these people again. They were cool and very competent. We took our waterproof camera, which sucks, but here are some pictures anyway. I apologize for the quality in advance. I think I need to goof around with the settings a bit. It is, however, waterproof, so that's something. Anyway, here are the pictures.

Leaving to drop into Bear Canyon.

Moving downcanyon before the technical section.
What the beautiful! It's so green!

SO GREEN! This is the spot where I executed a flawless downclimb.

But first I got my picture taken.

Looking back into the narrows.

Climbing up out of Bear Canyon.

The beginning of Sundance Canyon.

Nancy in Sundance Canyon.

Bryce giving Nancy head-arms (that's a thing I just made up).

Next to the start of the narrows.


Log soup!

Did I mention that both of these canyons had FLOWING WATER? So awesome!

Nancy rappelling.

Turns out we never managed to get a moderately non-blurry photo of Dustin. Couldn't say why.


Stephen about to jump!

Julia about to jump.

Dustin about to jump.

I tried to get Dustin mid-jump, but it turns out our camera has a delay, so I got his splash

Last rappel! So cool! By this time most of our pictures were turning out even more blurry
because I was shivering. Turns out a wetsuit would have been useful. I was fine without
it, but I would have been more comfortable with it.

Nancy at the bottom of the last rappel.

After this I'm not sure who's who coming down the rope. Suffice it to say that we all made it.

So, those canyons were sweet. I kind of expected to go into them with the attitude of, "Meh, I've seen better," and don't get me wrong, I have seen better, but definitely not much better. I'm pretty sure these ones went up into my top five. Granted, these are two of the four five-star rated canyons in the book, but if this is the best that Arizona has to offer, I'm cool with it. There's a lot of awesome stuff that can be almost as cool as this. At any rate, that's about all I've got for this post. Just want everyone to know that we're doing awesome. This is Captain Danger out.