Monday, October 5, 2009

Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, & Colorado River Adventure Trip Photos

Hiking Havasupai to Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls plus hiked to the Colorado River Video

Hiking Havasupai - Havasu Falls - Mooney Falls - Hike to Colorado River

Just spent the last three days in the Havasupai Indian Reservation exploring one of the most beautiful places in the world. I highly recommend that you add Havasupai to one of the places that you must see in your lifetime. Havasupai, outside the Grand Canyon, is famous for Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls which have been on the cover of every nature magazine known to man.

Anyone can do this adventure at different levels as there are mules to carry you and your gear from the parking lot hilltop all the way to Supai Village. For those that want to get some hiking in it is 8 miles from the parking lot to reach the Supai Village and another 2 down to the campsites.

For an added treat we did the hike into the canyon in the dark. We have an unbelievably bright full moon the hike under. The trip down to the Supai Village and campground is pretty easy so hiking in the dark wasn't a problem. I had my headlamp off for half the 10 mile hike and just used the moon light to guide my way. It was almost like daytime when the moon was directly overhead.

We passed the famous Havasu Falls which is photographed all the time for major publications in the dark so it wouldn't be until later that we would get a good look at it.

Up and ready to go the next morning, we were off to Mooney Falls and then to the Colorado River. Mooney Falls is breathe taking. I have heard it is any where from 200 ft high to 300 ft high, though needless to say it is big. The falls plunge into turquoise colored pools which you can swim and play around in. Limestone bleeding into the water makes give the whole place this crystal clear turquoise water that doesn't even look real.

To get to the bottom of the falls you take a chain linked fence which has a couple exposed areas near the bottom. You do have to be careful though I saw people of all fitness levels making it so with care you can make it down.

The Colorado River is 5 to 8 miles (no one really new the exact distance) of hiking, scrambling, and wading through Havasu Canyon. If you follow the canyon there are more cool waterfalls some bigger than others and many places to jump into the refreshing water.

With every mile the traffic gets thinner and thinner as most people can't make it all the way to the Colorado River and back in a reasonable amount of time. If you can make the trip is worth it. Besides the amazing waterfalls and the fun jumping off rope swings and boulders, the site of where Havasu Canyon's turquoise water mixes with the brown Colorado River is a site. Right before the Colorado River the canyon becomes a cathedral, which you scramble over and you see the two rivers converge and the Havasu Rapids of the Colorado River.

The Colorado River trip is an out and back so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get back in the day light as you don't want to be climbing back up Mooney Falls in the dark, to get back to your campsite.

The other great attraction is Havasu Falls which we spent time checking out on our hike out of the canyon. Havasu Falls is another big waterfall which is definitely worth the time in advance it takes to get reservations to get into Havasupai Indian Reservation.

The only problem with the hike out is that as everything was downhill on the way in, everything is uphill on the way out. You have 10 miles of uphill hiking with the last mile being the toughest as it is switchbacks straight up to the parking lot. For added pleasure for us was a 30 mile per hour or greater wind that picked up as we reached the switched back which at one point almost blew me so hard that I started to tumble down the path. Luckily, I was able to re-balance though I did stumble a good five heart pounding feet before regaining my balance.

One tip I have is take extra precaution to not lock your keys in the trunk of your car, which we found out the hard way. There no cell reception and no radio at the parking lot. You are in the middle of nowhere. I also don't recommend AAA and would cancel my service immediately if you have them as they were called by no more than 5 people including one of our parties husbands and they never came. AAA was ok with just leaving us in the middle of nowhere standed with our keys in the trunk. I want to give a special thanks to the firefighters from Pine/ Strawberry who were amazing and were able to get into our car. Without there help I know I wouldn't be home yet and able to write this post. Thank You Very Much.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Crawdad Canyon - Canyoneering Outside Phoenix Arizona

Crawdad Canyon is my latest canyoneering trip that I found myself scrambling and swimming my way through. Crawdad Canyon is not the official name this canyon goes by though the group I go with switched the name to Crawdad to keep people away from the canyon that my trash it. It is disappointing to see the lack of respect some people have for beautiful places.

Crawdad Canyon starts slow with a dry drainage or entrance canyon until we run into a nicely flowing stream. I was pleasantly surprised with this canyon as I expect most scrambling with a few places where we would wade. Instead we spent the entire time in the water. There were numerous pools that required swimming and we spent the entire trip in a good flow of water. The flow also kept the water clean which was a nice change from the stagnant water you can find in some canyons.

Crawdad Canyon is not a technical canyon though it is well worth the effort. There are plenty of challenges throughout the canyon at a moderate level. There is nothing of exceptional technical ability though you will have your fair share of endurance as the canyon took close to 7 hours to get to our shuttle car.

Our groups given name of Crawdad Canyon is because of the thousands of crawdads and tadpoles that you find in the water. The whole canyon was streaming with wildlife from fish, snakes, butterflies, and even a havalina that we scarred up. I missed the wild pig as it was behind me which sucked.

If you want to find out where this canyon is you will have to email me using the contact form on the right hand nav and if you are lucky I will tell you. What I will say is that this canyon was a lot of fun and a great canyon to do on a hot day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Canyoneering Trip Sundance Canyon & Bear Canyon Same Day

If you want a complete day of canyoneering you can take on Sundance Canyon and Bear Canyon in the same day. Both canyons are outside Camp Verde, AZ. The unique aspect of these two canyons is that they are right next to each other.

When you finally get to your place to park, you have Sundance Canyon on your right and Bear Canyon on your left. Both of the canyons end up in West Clear Creek Canyon, and you follow the same up hill path back to the truck for both.

You do need to start early. You have to give yourself at least 4 hours each to get through the canyons. That is 8 hours total of just canyoning time. If you group moves slower than you need to keep that in mind.

Both canyons are technical canyons that require rappelling and wetsuits. Sundance Canyon finishes a dramatic 180 ft rappel that will get your heart pumping. Bear Canyon starts slow, though it finishes with a great narrows section that is tons of fun. Bear Canyon is a little deeper and colder than Sundance Canyon so your hands will feel great.

If you want a full day of canyoneering I highly recommend Sundance and Bear Canyon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Canyoneering Gear for Getting Out of Keeper Pot Holes

Keeper pot hole, probably the most deadly part of canyoneering. Unprepared canyoneers can find themselves stuck in pot holes with no exit with out specific skills and gear.

Pot Shot by Imlay Canyon Gear is a sturdy and light weight pack that you can fill with sand, water, or rocks to throw over the edge of the keeper pot hole.

Imlay Canyon Gear make gear designed specifically for canyoneers by canyoneers. Imlay Canyon Gear is named after Imlay Canyon in Zion National Park which is one of the msot technical and dangerous canyons in the United States. Imlay Canyon has deadly keeper pot holes without the right gear so you know the people who know what it takes to get out of Imlay Canyon know how to design gear that can get you out of the keeper pot holes you find yourself in.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Canyoning Bear Canyon Photos - Rappel & Swimming Canyon Slot Narrows

Canyoneering Bear Canyon - Keeper Pot Holes & Rappelling into Ice Cold Pools

Bear Canyon is right next to Sundance Canyon. You actually park in the same spot and find your way back to the truck using the same route for each canyon. After getting done with Sundance Canyon by just after noon we decided to take advantage and head down Bear Canyon.

The trick to getting into Bear Canyon is that there is a short gully in the way. Many people think they are in Bear Canyon only for it to end with no where to go. You have make your way through gully and over the next ridge to get into Bear Canyon.

Bear Canyon starts with a canyon hike through fallen trees and boulders. After just rappelling 180 feet out of Sundance Canyon we started to wonder if Bear Canyon had anything to offer. Then you hit Bear Canyon's narrows.

Bear Canyon has a cool section of narrows which require multiple rappels and swims through even colder pools than Sundance Canyon. An excellent section of pot holes leads you into the depths withoug obvious places to set anchors. After a keeper pot hole there is a bolt placed in the wall for the largest rappell of 40 feet.

The pools in Bear Canyon are colder than Sundance Canyon just next door. The slot canyon walls are higher and lack even more sunlight. This is also obvious with the presence of snow and ice we found deep in the canyon. I highly recommend wetsuits as you make your way through the narrows.

The narrows of Bear Canyon make it a fun canyon well worth the trip.

180 ft Rappelling Sundance Canyon - On Rappel Video

Sundance Canyon Canyoneering Photos - Narrows, Pot Holes, & Rappelling

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sundance Canyon - Canyoning Arizona Slot Canyon

Sundance Canyon is a neat slot canyon outside Camp Verde, Arizona in the Coconino National Forest. Sundance Canyon is know for its 180 foot rappel at the end, which is the best climax to a canyon that I have done.

Entering Sundance Canyon is a steep hike down into the canyon where we found cow bones. The cows were not able to find a way out though we were hoping to be luckier.

Sundance Canyon has an interesting narrows section that has consistent scrambling, down climbing, swimming through pools, and rappelling. There are 4-5 short rappels into freezing cold pools. Wetsuits are required in all of the conditions.

One the best treats in the canyon was a short jump into a freezing cold pool. If you were awake yet you were now. There is nothing like completely under water that is ice cold to get the senses moving.

The highlight of Sundance Canyon is the 180 ft drop into West Clear Creek Canyon. What makes the drop even more impressive is the keeper pot hole you have to maneuver just to get to the edge. It is amazing to be in a narrow slot canyon and freezing cold pools of water with a 180ft drop just over the other side.

The final 180 ft rappel is awesome. The final 130 ft are a free hang where the ground just looks so far away. I don't recommend this rappel for anyone who has a heart condition as I promise your heart will be beating a little faster as you drop into the gorge.

To get back to the truck is a short hike in West Clear Creek Canyon which is a 25 mile canyon hike that I would like to do as some point.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Start 25 min. Canyon Swim - First Water Canyon

Swimming Freezing Pool - Fish Creek Canyon

Goldmine Mountain - San Tan Mountains

Got out of the house for a little workout today in the San Tan Mountains. Started on the Goldmine trail as I made my way up to the top of Goldmine Mountains. High winds while I hiked which helped with the heat.

Starting with the Goldmine trail is a great place to get a workout as you get steep hills to build hiking strength. On the other side of Goldmine Mountain is a series of trails over many more hills.

As the San Tan Mountains are as far south east as you can get and still be part of the Phoenix metro area. These trails have people on them everyday though they don't get any where close to the amount of traffic you find at Piestewa Peak or South Mountain.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Piestewa/Squaw Peak Circumference Trail

I joined a local hiking group. Well before I could officially be a member I had to do a test hike with one of the group coordinators. The goal of the group was to have fit hikers and canyoneers, and I had to be approved. It was an interesting drive to the hike knowing I had never had to be approved to hike before, though I don't need approval to hike just to hike with the group.

To keep the little or no expense to an end I did make the cut. Basically if you can keep up with the group then you are in. If you couldn't hike with the group then I don't think it would be much fun to go with them anyway. I am excited to find a group of people who are fit and like to go canyoneering.

Our hike was the Piestewa/Squaw Peak Circumference Trail which was a 4.5 mile hike in and around Piestewa Peak which used to be called Squaw Peak. Piestewa Peak is in the heart of Phoenix which makes it a popular hike for tons of people. The trail we took is a longer trail than the summitt hike and we had most of the trail to ourselves. The great part of this hike is that most of it was in a shade, which was a great supprise since it was 90 degrees while we were hiking.

I look forward to joining the group on one of their next canyoneering trips.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Buckskin Gulch - Paria River Canyoneering Backpacking

I just spent the last weekend swishing and splashing my way through Buckskin Gulch. Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the United States outside Page, Arizona. Buckskin Gulch is part of the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area which is gives new meeting to middle of no where. I have two thoughts before I describe our trip; Buckskin Gulch is absolutely amazing and a must see, and at the same time is a true test of true endurance.

Our trip is to take Wire Pass trail to Buckskin Gulch, and then exit through the Paria River the following day. The total trip is 21 miles.

Our trip started Friday in a wind storm. The wind had gusts up to 50 miles an hour from Phoenix all the way to where we were heading outside Page. It is something driving for 6 hrs on your way for a weekend trip with horizontal rain and snow blowing and pushing your truck off the road. The wind was blowing so hard it broke our windshield wiper, which was fun to fix in the pleasant weather. We made the guy wearing his shell jacket in the truck go outside. He was the only guy wearing a jacket.

We did make it just in time for the all you could eat the Paria Outpost, which was a good thing since I didn't see a single thing open in Page when we drove by. Paria Outpost is quarter of a mile from the White House campground where we camped and we used them as a shuttle.

Saturday morning we take our shuttle to the Wire Pass trail head which is shorter route to
getting into Buckskin then starting at the Buckskin trail head. I always go into canyons in nice weather as getting wet when you are cold is no fun, so this was some start at 40 degrees and wind blowing as we leave for the trail.

Wire Pass is a short hike to reach the entrace to Buckskin Gulch. Wire Pass in itself has some cool narrow slots of its own which make for a good start to the day. Where Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch meet gives me visions of entering a Indiana Jones movie. A couple hundred foot sheer walls welcome you into their depths.

Bucksin Gulch consists of mile after mile of narrow slots and lots of getting your feet wet in muddy and cold pools. The best piece of gear you can own is a pair of neoprene socks. They help out a ton. Most canyons have short sections of narrows. Buckskin has miles of them.

You do get a break every once and awhile and get pieces of sun with huge openings with walls towering over your head. You will spend most of your day and what can best be described as a dungeon deep in the canyon and with limited light. It may be noon though Buckskin doesn't care how much light you think should be there.

There is no way to describe the experience of being deep in a canyon with mile after mile of narrow slots that get just a couple feet wide. It is something you have to experience for yourself.

What I will say is that fitness does help. It tooks 9.5 hrs to get from the start to our campsite. You may think you can do it fast though a backpacking group did it 1 hour faster and they didn't stop to take the video you did. So if you are a consistent backpacker than plan on 8.5 hrs if you don't stop much. Either way you have to be prepared to spend a long time hiking, scrambling, wading, and more. One thing to keep in mind also it is easier to make good time on a groomed trail then it is in sand, mud, more mud, water, rocks, and boulders. They take a little longer and little more toll on your body. Just ask one of the people in our group who lets say gained new understanding on his personal abilit
y to keep going. One more note on time because this is an overnight your pack is full of extra gear like tent, sleeping bag, food, and so on.

You camp in sand benches that nature has provided. It is 14 miles the first day. There is no way to miss them and they come shortly after a rock jam that you have to climb down and a huge boudler stuck in the slot over your head. Our backdrop for our campsite was a small stream heading for the Paria River and 200ft or more canyon walls that made your neck hurt just to look that straight up.

The next day starts with a short hike to the Paria River which leads to the Colorado River at Lee's Fairy. We headed north instead of South to the Colorado for our exit. The Paria River is very slity and doesn't make good water to filter. Though the Paria River's canyon walls are farther apart the river takes up a lot of it as your wind your way. Be prepared for more in and out of water and just to make you feel better the Paria River water is colder than the water in Buckskin. The Paria River gives a whole new experience of sheer canyon walls hundreds of feet above your head as your follow a river as it has carved its way millions of years ago.

The best part of the Paria River exit is the sun came out and we spent extra time relaxing in the sand watching the river and burning my nose. You forget after a day in the dark that you need suncreen on the way out.

We exited the Paria River at White House campground where we left our truck with totaly exhausted and elated minds and bodies.

Buckskin Gulch is one of the coolest canyoneering experiences that gave dramtic sceanry, experiences, and complete effort to complete.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Agua Fria River Canyon - Canyoneering North of Phoenix

So we went down the Agua Fria River Canyon today. Overall a fun canyon for a February where the goal was to do no swimming. A little wading would be find and just wanted to get outside and enjoy a nice Arizona canyon.

One thing to keep in mind is that I thought this canyon would take 4.5-5.5 hrs to complete. Nine hours later we got back to the truck. A slight miss understanding to the time it takes to get through the canyon. This is the most off by time to complete I have been in a canyon. I will tell you later what took so long.

The canyoning trip starts with an easy hike down the Badger Spring Wash which leads to the Agua Fria River. The river had good water flow though the canyon was wide and made for scrambling and bouldering to stay out of the water. Though the temperature eventually hit 75 degrees outside the water was still freezing and swimming or constant wading through the water would have been hypothermia.

The Agua Fria River Canyon is full of boulder mazes which you can find your way through. There are plenty of small water falls which keeps the scenery going. The canyon changes quite a few times from different types of rock. I enjoyed scrambling over some cool blue boulders for a good stretch of the canyon.

There were a few instances where we did get wet up to our waist though most of the canyon was scrambling and just some ankle deep wading. Though with any good canyon trip we did find a way to make one short freezing swim. This could have been avoided though the path we took through a water fall left us no other choice. The hot sun made it easy to warm back up.

So what took so long? The Agua Fria River Canyon itself took a little longer than I anticipated though nothing much. Most of the extra was spent find routes to stay out of the freezing water which would be faster in the summer when we would have gone right down the middle of the canyon. The extra time was spent in a side canyon we were taking out. The canyon takes you close to interstate 17 at mile marker 252 which we were going to take a cow trail back to the truck. The side canyon was a mile and I didn't think it would take very long. Over 3 hours later I was mistaken.

The side canyon was overgrown with vegetation which made travel almost impossible at times. The scrambling around these areas was full of cacti which wasn't much of a better idea. After two hours of going no where I decided we could climb out and just find the trail we wanted. As we got higher we saw there was a primitive trail on the other side of the canyon. After finding the climb more of a problem then we thought we had to find our way back down and to the trail.

Standing in our way of the trail was 10ft high stalk plants of some kind that we as thick as naturally possible. We had to fight our way which was one of the most ere experiences stuck in the middle of these plants and using all my might just to move an inch.

We did make it through and found the trail which made for a tired though fairly easy walk out of the canyon where we found our trail and back to the truck. It never sises to amaze me how exiting a canyon can be more of any adventure than the canyon itself.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Peters Canyon Canyoneering Photo Gallery

Canyoneering Peters Canyon Near Tortilla Flat, Arizona

With the winter I hadn't been scrambling around any canyons lately. Last night around 9 o'clock I just decided I am going down a canyon the following morning. I wanted to find a fun bouldering and scrambling canyon where I wasn't going to have to swim since the water is still freezing.

I picked Peters Canyon which is off highway 88 or Apache Trail Rd in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. Peters Canyon is easy to get to as you park at Tortilla Flat a little restaurant and ice cream parlor next to Canyon Lake.

Right at Tortilla Flat is Tortilla Flat Creek which was flooding the road when I got there. Always an interesting way to start a canyon trip when the creek you are entering is flooded. The lack of narrows makes the canyon a low risk for flash floods. You scramble along the back for about a quarter mile and you reach the conflux with Peters Canyon.

Peters Canyon consists of a boulder maze of scrambling, bouldering, wading through no more than shin deep water, and hiking through some sand. The canyon was full of water and had a good stream going which created a fun challenge of figuring out how to get past. Many spots had the stream split into three or four separate streams with their own small waterfall. The neat thing about this canyon as is does provide a fun experience without having to get completely wet when you want to go out on an Arizona winter canyoning adventure.

Two and half hours into Peters Canyon is a 10ft waterfall which takes a little climbing to the left on some boulders to get on top of. This is pretty much the end of anything fun in the canyon. The canyon widens and flatens out past the waterfall. On top of the waterfall is a great place to take a break and have a snack. This canyon is an out and back.

The thing I really liked about this canyon as there were so many different options on how to get through the canyon that the way back was a completely new experience of the canyon for me. I found myself plenty of times in different parts of the stream where I spent more time wading on the way back. This made coming back down the same canyon more fun than I have had on any out and back canyon.

I highley recommend this canyon to anyone who wants to get out during nice winter days in Arizona. Once the heat comes though I would find a canyon where you get more wet and can cool off.

Monday, January 5, 2009

San Tan Mountain Adventure - South of Gilbert, AZ

Well it isn't quite a canyoneering trip nor did it have much adventure, then again it might depend on who you ask. I haven't a made it out to any new canyon routes lately. I had a trip planned though we went golfing instead. Hard to pass up a free round at a golf course that costs $250 for 18 holes. I did take my son out for his first hike. His neck is finally strong enough and take the bouncing up and down of hiking a trail.

He seemed to love his new adventure as he jabbered in my ear the entire time. The hike can get a little strenuous depending on what path you take in the San Tan mountain range. They are not very high though some climbs are pretty steep.

Just south of Gilbert, AZ is the San Tan mountains which have numerous trails and is a great place for a quick hike and get outside. I have used this trail system for trail running and mountain bike workouts in the past, though now it makes a great time for me and Lleyton.