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UT: San Rafael Swell Black Box (My First Epic)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Blake Merrell, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. Blake Merrell

    Blake Merrell Lovin' Utah's Backcountry

    Messages:
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    532
    Location:
    Spanish Fork, Ut
    Upper Black Box
    The 2nd time I ever visited the Upper Black Box Canyon was right after I married my beautiful wife. I loved the canyon so much I HAD to take her there too. Well, this trip proved to be my one and only EPIC so far in my life! What I thought was only going to be a couple of hours of hiking, turned out to be 9+ hours. (That is what I get for trying to guide a canyon that I had done 8 years earlier! Anyway, a 9 hour hike usually wouldn't be to huge of a problem, EXCEPT when you start hiking at noon in the end of August and don't bring a headlamp. Yeah....
    We were having a BLAST playing in the water and just taking our time. Well, as you can guess, what I thought looked like only a few hours on the map, ended up being a whole lot more and we got stuck in the canyon in the dark without any light. Fortunately we ended up stopping where there was a sandbar full of tamarack bushes that provided fuel for a small fire that helped us tolerate the chilly August evening. It was a miserable night for most, but we all survived it. I had a large garbage bag that provided as bivouac shelter, and we all shared some dried mangos, granola bars, and some dried Raman noodles! Depending on who you talk to, it was either the best or worst experience in their life! For me It was neither! Being the guide I felt a little disappointed in myself for getting us into the situation. However, I learned a TON from the experience. I loved the idea of surviving in the canyon like that. I hate the idea how I managed and lead the trip.
    Here are some of the pictures! :D Enjoy!
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    Dropping into the Upper Black Box
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    Climbing Down to the San Rafael River
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    Spending some time having fun in the river
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    Having a great time so far! Always happy to be in a canyon!
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    Thinking we are almost done. Hoping we are almost done. The sun is getting pretty low now.
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    The canyon after we survived the night. We waited till the sun peeked into the canyon before we left. We all needed a bit of sun to warm us up from our freezing overnight camping experience!
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    Trying to stay warm till we can stand in the Sun.
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    Yeah. it was COLD! but we did survive. It was a warm August night that, but nothing seems that warm when you are in a slot canyon next to a river all night long with nothing to keep you warm except a small twig fire and a plastic garbage sack. And to think if any one of us in the group would have had a flash-light we could have avoided this problem. It was just so dark at night that we could not safely hike the last hour out of the canyon in the river.

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  2. lostlandscapes

    lostlandscapes Rope Mule Staff Member

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    Wow! Valuable lessons learned. Glad everyone was alright. Thanks for sharing!
    Blake Merrell likes this.
  3. Blake Merrell

    Blake Merrell Lovin' Utah's Backcountry

    Messages:
    504
    Likes:
    532
    Location:
    Spanish Fork, Ut
    I learned more lessons in this one trip than I have ever learned in all my classes and internet research. I am just glad that it was fairly "mild" epic, and nothing that was life threatening.

    Lesson #1 Do all you can to keep your wife warm and as comfy as possible through the night (just cuz you can sleep when it is freezing cold, doesn't mean everyone else can!) That was a hard lesson to learn. Wife still hates me for sleeping and not cuddling.:facepalm:

    Lesson #2 Do more research and know where you are going. (Get good beta!)
    Lesson #3 Bring a Headlamp, even if you don't plan on using it
    Lesson #4 Sometimes wearing a swimsuit all day leads to other problems.
    Lesson #5 Always carry a little bit extra food
    Lesson #6 Garbage sacks are a pretty decent emergency bivy.
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