How I was Introduced to Canyoneering

I first heard about canyoneering in 2003 when I did a back pack trip through the Narrows at Zion.  We started from the top of the Narrows and stopped about 8 miles in to camp, then did the other 8 miles out the following day.  I enjoyed being in a slot canyon very much and wanted more.  About 2.5 miles before getting to the bottom of the Narrows, we saw a few people coming out of Orderville Canyon which dumped into the Narrows.  They told me it was a more technical canyon and some gear would be needed to do all of it.  When we got back I stopped to talk to the people at the Zion Adventure Company in Springdale (the town just outside of Zion).  They told me what Canyoneering was and I decided I would eventually do some of it. 

Luke - Zion Narrows 2003
Luke standing on a boulder in the Zion Narrows - 2003.

In 2004 I was on the Thunder River Tail in the Grand Canyon.  On that trip we went to the Colorado River through Deer Creek.  There is a slot canyon that the trail takes you around to get to the river.  After we enjoyed the river we hiked back up and around the slot canyon.  Ron and I decided to drop into the top of the Slot canyon to see what was there.  We hiked a ways down enjoying the scenery and were soon stopped by a large drop off.  We were at the top of a 20 foot water fall.  Looking up we saw a bunch of logs that were lodged between the walls above us.  I wanted so bad to to see what was further down but I thought it was not possible.  A few years later (2007), I ran across a trip report for that very slot.  Needless to say it's on my to do list. 

Luke and Ron in the narrows of Deercreek.
Luke and Ron starting down the Deer Creek narrows to explore.

Looking over that water fall that stopped our travel down stream.
Looking over that water fall that stopped our travel down stream.

In 2007 I was introduced to Canyoneering by Ron Graham (not the same Ron from the Thunder River Trip).  He was leading a group of people through Fat Man's Misery in Zion National Park and I was invited.  I fell in love with the sport on that trip.  It was a beginner technical canyon, so I was not in over my head but I got a small taste of what was to come.  I got to rappel into the first drop off and see the ropes pulled down with us after we were all in.  It was a cool feeling at that moment to realize no matter what, I could not turn around!  We did not have the gear to get back up.  The only way out was to complete the canyon.  Along the way I rappelled several more times and got to experience rapping into pools of water where I then had to swim with my pack.  After that I wanted more, more, more!

I like canyoneering because it combines many of the things I enjoy and is mentally challenging.

Over the years I have spent my time backpacking, hiking, learning to climb (just a little), kayaking, rappelling and various other outdoor activities.  While canyoneering I get to hike, scramble rappel and occasionally climb.  Some of the canyons require an overnight stay so I get add the back packing aspect to it as well.  Although I don't get to add the kayaking aspect in I do get to frequently wear a wet suit while in wet canyons. 

Canyoneering offers a mental challenge as well.  It is fun learning the technical stuff, but can be mentally challenging applying it.  I also like the feeling of reaching the point of no return.  After completing the first rappel and pulling the ropes there is no turning back.  Every time this happens I enjoy the feeling of knowing the only way out is to finish the route.  What ever lays ahead must be worked out.

Another aspect I enjoy is getting to see things I would not see anywhere else, well in a picture here and there maybe.  Some canyons are quite popular attracting a lot of people.  Other canyons on the other hand are visited by a much smaller segment of the population.  Knowing I was lucky enough to be one of those few people in a difficult to access place, makes me feel all warm inside.