Sunday, September 28, 2014

In Which I Hike In and Out of a Really Big Hole

So, we went to the Grand Canyon on Saturday. It was my first time there. Nancy had been before, but not for several years. It's a place that I knew I had to visit when we moved to Arizona, and I'm glad that we got it in so quickly! We met up with some of our friends from Utah up there, and four of them and I hiked down to the Colorado River from the South Kaibab trail and back out via the Bright Angel trail. It's no rim to rim, but it was almost 17 miles! That's the longest hike I've ever done, and I'll tell you what: It was kind of rough. I went into it figuring I'd have little trouble and that it would be pretty easy. Unfortunately, I underestimated the size of the giant hole in the ground that is the Grand Canyon. You really can't understand the huge scale of the thing without going there. It's almost a mile down from rim to river, people! That's a lot! I knew that going in, but I didn't realize how much "a lot" was. It's seriously a lot. But, overall I had a great time. I was saying as I was climbing on the final switchbacks out of the canyon (those switchbacks took me more than two hours, by the way) that this was probably only something that I needed to do once. Now that I'm a little removed from the experience, I wouldn't mind doing it again. It was certainly worth it, I'll say that. The Grand Canyon is fantastic. At any rate, here are some pictures. The order might be a little wonky because they uploaded funny.

That's a pretty sweet-looking slot canyon down there.

Our friend Grant. We were still at the beginning so we were all still in a good mood.

As you can see, I was definitely still in a good mood.

Going through the tunnel onto the bridge.

I took this picture on the way back up, because that rim was the level to which we were headed.

Cool waterfall.

Most of my face with the cool waterfall.

Made it! That trekking pole was only helping me stand a little. Okay, fine, I was barely able to stand without it.

Like I said, it was needed.
View from the Bright Angel Trailhead.
Here's our Google track from the hike!

While I did that, Nancy went on a few short hikes with our friend Jessica who just had a baby. Nancy wasn't feeling very good so she decided not to come on the big hike with us. Here are a couple pictures of that:

The next morning we got up and headed back to Phoenix. Nancy and I had a Sunday school lesson to teach. We took a few pictures before we left, though.

Here's this picture of me holding a baby.

And here's this picture of me and Nancy with a baby.

Then we went to get one last look at the canyon, because we decided we needed a couple picture with the Grand Canyon.
Otherwise, what was the point of going all the way up there, right?

Nancy and our friend Sarah.
 So, that was our first trip to the Grand Canyon. It was awesome! I would gladly go again. At any rate, that's about all I've got for now. This is Captain Danger out.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In Which We Witness Something Awesome

So we went canyoneering again yesterday. I'm pleased with the amount of canyoneering we've been able to do since we've been back from Korea. This time we went back to Bear Canyon and Sundance canyon with a different group of people. It was a great time, and they were just as awesome as I remembered them being, and this time I got to lead the way because I knew exactly where to go, because I have a fantastic sense of direction like that. Anyway, we got to the bottom of Sundance Canyon and I went first on the big 180 foot rappel and got to the bottom just fine. Then it took forever for everyone else to get down. Apparently the new pull cord was having some trouble. New pull cords can be like that. So, while all of that was going on, I started to hear thunder, and before long there was lightning flashing right overhead. As canyoneers, we are taught to fear thunderstorms. They cause the canyoneer's worst nightmare: flash floods. So, there I was, sitting at the bottom of the last rappel, saying, "WHAT is taking them so long?" because at 180 feet down in an echo-y chamber, you really can't communicate, and getting more and more antsy, and probably being more and more of a jerk to the people who had managed to get down by that point. Finally, everyone was down, and we tried to pull the rope so we could get out of there on the quick. And it didn't pull. I put all of my weight into it. I ran like 100 feet back (It's a really dynamic pull cord. I definitely won't be buying one of those, I'll tell you that.) and put all of my weight on it, and like three other people got on the rope, and it did not BUDGE. It didn't move a single inch. Finally we decided we needed to get to higher ground, because the rain was getting harder and harder and I knew that any second a giant wall of death-water was going to come flying out of the top of that rappel and kill all of us. Luckily for us, there was a nice raised (and also covered, which was nice) alcove off to the side of the canyon where a couple climbers were working on a first ascent. From there, we could safely watch the waterworks (that's the water version of fireworks.)

I have to say, always hearing about flash floods and how dangerous they are, I've definitely not wanted to get caught in one, and I've always been careful. However, I have also always wanted to see one. Now my wish has finally come true. I probably should have been a bit more careful this time, but in my defense, we didn't really get caught in the flood. If we had been up in the technical section of the canyon, we would have been in pretty major trouble. However, down where we were, the flood was just awesome. The waterfall on the last rappel of the canyon was just a trickle when we went down it. However, it turned to a 20 foot out waterspout in minutes. In fact, right after we got to high ground. Water started coursing down the canyon walls through every crack visible. It was AWESOME! In both senses of the word. Here are some pictures from the whole day.

Getting started.

The narrows of Bear Canyon

Nancy apparently rappelling from a portal to heaven.

Getting started on Sundance canyon. Still perfectly clear skies. That storm blew in crazy fast.

Sam rappelling. She'll have a helmet next time.

Sarah rappelling. She had her helmet, she just wasn't wearing it for some reason.

Nancy in the narrows.

Showing off my amazing downclimbing skills as I went down to check the depth of this pothole. Everyone else jumped.

Flood! The spout on the left is coming off the last rappel.

Looking downcanyon.

Better view of the canyon's flood. We were totally safe where we were, but it would have
definitely been deadly up in the technical section.

So much water!
So, we were going to wait it out, because I wasn't sure if the creek we had to hike down to get back to the car was going to flood, too, but then we realized that we were in a Scion and the roads could become impassible for us, so we gave the rope a couple more yanks (nothing) and then just trucked it out of there like crazy people. The creek was fine, and we climbed up out of there much faster than we did last time. Now we've posted on every canyoneering and climbing forum we know of to see if anyone has taken our rope down or if they could return it if they find it. It actually wasn't our rope, it was Sarah's but we definitely want to get it back to her. At any rate, that's the latest adventure. Aside from the whole stuck rope thing, it was pretty awesome. I'll leave it at that. This is Captain Danger out.