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UT: North Wash Pothole Fork of Woody Canyon

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by cjhaines, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. cjhaines


    Orem, UT
    Austin Farnworth contacted me earlier this week asking if I wanted to go down to the San Rafael Swell and do some canyons on Saturday. It had been about a month since I been through a canyon and decided that was way too long, so I agreed. The weather was supposed to be really nice, but when Friday came around the weather took a turn for the worse with snow forecast for the Swell. The forecast for North Wash and the Lake looked good, so we instead headed down to Woody Canyon to attempt the Pothole Fork.

    My wife Caitlin loves canyons so she came along too. We decide to do the shuttle option that's posted on Bluugnome instead of the loop hike, since it would allow us to get a little more bang for our buck and Austin and group had done the loop a couple of weeks previous. We started from the trailhead at around 9:30 with perfect temperatures and beautiful lighting:

    The hike itself was really pleasant, with a mostly flat walk across dirt and slickrock until the head of the canyon, with a few spicy downclimbs mixed in.

    The upper section of Woody is really nice, with some good stemming challenges.

    We decided to do the Main Fork first. One of my favorite parts of canyoneering is working through pothole challenges, something Woody has no shortage of. Many of them contained ankle to waist deep water, which added an extra element of challenge in the cold weather. Our group worked through them all quickly and efficiently.




    The last pothole at the end of the Main Fork was quite full of water and made for a hard throw with a potshot, so I volunteered as tribute to go in and was successful in climbing out the other side with the aid of a pack and a potshot I carried over. We then ziplined our packs over top and pulled everyone out.

    After completing the Main Fork we were hungry for more, so we climbed out of the main canyon and wandered over to the Pothole Fork.


    At this point, the weather began to change for the worse. The wind picked up and we all started to get pretty cold, so we decided we had better do the Pothole Fork quickly.

    The Pothole fork starts off with some easy potholes, which we opted to stem over:


    It was mostly dry, with a few small puddles here and there. The potholes slowly got larger, and it looked like if it were full of water it might be pretty hard, but we were so far underwhelmed, at least until we reached the last one.

    By the time we reached it, it had started raining outside and the wind was blowing pretty hard. Compared to what we had been through previous I thought it looked like a small lake with a really big lip on the other side. Nobody really wanted to get in due to the weather, so we opted to throw some potshots, which turned out to be a real challenge. Not only was it a long throw, but the other side of the pothole had a very wide lip that didn't want to take anything we threw at it. Frustrated, Austin and I went in. It was only waist deep so we thought we could get a better throw from the other side, which didn't work out really well. We also tried a simple partner assist, but it was too tall to get any good footholds to climb out with.

    At this point we were pretty cold, and since misery loves company we invited a younger, lighter member of our group to come into the pot and climb on both of our shoulders to try and get out. Finally the pothole yielded, but hauling people out with one person became a challenge so we ended up having to ascend out with him as a meat anchor. Once we had some more bodies on the other side we were able to get everyone through quickly.


    Immediately after the huge pothole we set up the final rap back into the main Woody with a sandtrap and then got everyone out of the canyon. Overall it was a very enjoyable day. I wish we had some more pictures of the Pothole fork to share, but I think we were all more concerned with moving quickly than taking pictures. I've decided I need to make a second trip into the Pothole Fork later this spring and try my hand at practicing some longer potshot throws with more time and better weather. Thanks to everyone that came along for a great trip!

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    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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