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TR - North Wash and Cedar Mesa, Mar 12-13 (verbose)

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by tj_wetherell, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. tj_wetherell

    tj_wetherell Guest

    A bit late, but better than never.

    Having found some free time, and without an impeding snowstorm, I headed out to Sandthrax to meet Ram, Jenny, Doc Science, and The Emperor for a day or two of slots before hurrying back to Colorado to start a long delayed business trip.

    I was amazed when I pulled into 'Thrax that there were a ton of cars which turned out to be a college group. No Ram to be seen, so I settled in and enjoyed the warm evening. Evidently the mosquitos had woken up, but they were fat and slow.

    Ram, Jenny and Doc pulled in well after dark having had a good day and we made plans for Long Canyon. Still no sign of Tom J. The next morning we were just about to depart when he arrives on little sleep. A quick shuffling has us repacked for Marinus. The car shuttle completed soon after we tromp across the slickrock having animated discussions about politics, etc.

    After some crafty routefinding through cliffbands we make our way to the first drop which is quite impressive. Similar to Neon, the watercourse has bored an arch into the landscape, but then plunges 150'? into a massive pothole, with the water level well below the lip. A plan is devised which has Jenny rappelling on the inside while Tom J goes over the down-canyon side of the arch. We rig two ropes so that when we pull, we don't drag them over the entire arch, a nifty setup. Jenny and Tom head down, and just when Jenny would end up in the pothole, Tom tosses her a line and hauls her over to the shoulder of the hole. In short order we all are down, with varying levels of theatrics at the pool which is unavoidable at the bottom. The rest of the canyon passes quickly with one short assisted drop and a bunch of sandy hiking in the watercourse. Once back to camp we quickly dispense with dinner and a brief campfire, everyone succumbing to the exertions of the day.

    Sunday dawns clear and beautiful, and IMHO far too warm for early spring. No complaints though, and we get a slow start for a long canyon. In time, we drop a car at the exit and then begin a circuitous bout of navigation to the starting point. After a few wrong turns and backtracking we find the correct place. Tom J decides that he is not sufficiently motivated but offers to take Ram's car so we need not retrieve the shuttle - a godsend we will appreciate by canyon's end.

    The four of us tromp off at a brisk pace. It is 11:30 and we have 12 miles (or so) of walking to get us back to the other car. 20 minutes of cross country gets us to the top of a ridgeline where we pick up an old mining road, then down the west side where we contour around cliffbands until we reach a broken down section we can descend towards our destination: Long Canyon. Long runs East-West just north of Jacobs Chair through Cedar Mesa. It is a beautiful area and one which I plan to visit more in the future.

    After descending off the ridgeline we ended up on slickrock until canyon started to drop. We navigated around some early drops until we had to rappel into the canyon proper. In hindsight, we bypassed some nice fluted drops which we should have done. I think we all felt the pressure of dwindling daylight and knew we had a long way to go.

    After dispatching the first rappel (~60' off a small tree with an old sling), we headed down canyon. Small spots of ice were found in the shadows, and water was in many of the potholes and deep grooves we encountered. Wary of suiting up and being too warm, we chose to avoid the water until it became necessary. Ironically this was late in the day and left me seeking the sun to try and dry out while we still had sun.

    At a quick snack break we met 4? or so grad students from CO, coming up canyon on a multiday pack trip. They were on their second day, having left their car near ours. I at least was *really* hoping they were as slow as they appeared since we had to go the same distance in the following hours. They had LARGE packs and were in no obvious hurry. They had the right attitude, the canyon was gorgeous, with all sorts of contoured stone, trees and boulders.

    We continued our journey, quickly reaching wet sections which we initially stemmed through without getting wet. Soon enough we ended up in several swimmers, the sun dropping lower in the sky. A short rappel, and more walking....

    Eventually we reached the confluence with White Canyon, a welcome sight since we then knew we were ~2 hours from the car. The sun was behind the upper cliff bands by then and (at least) Jenny and I were getting chilled. After a few breaks we changed into dry clothes on top and from then on I (at least) was pleasantly warm.

    As the sunlight dwindled, moonlight began to dominate and although we all had headlamps, they turned out to be unnecessary. There was just enough light to navigate by without risk of ankle damage by the rivercourse cobbles. By this time we were all very tired, but "smelling the barn". The stars and moon were out, it was warm, and we were moving efficiently towards our destination. Eventually we hit Gravel Crossing and our pace increased for the finish.

    Back at the car layers are peeled off, Seltzers popped and salty snacks distributed. We drive off back to 'Thrax where we meet back up with Tom J, Judy and Amy who have come out from CO.

    Thus ends my trip. As a side, our ~12mile day maps out to be more like 14.75. We finished at 8:15pm.... A great day.

    Some pics from the weekend: http://tinyurl.com/4kso8k4

    -tom(w)
  2. Jenny

    Jenny Guest

    A few add-ins from the peanut gallery to your great TR Tom.

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "tj_wetherell" <tj_wetherell@...> wrote: >The car shuttle completed soon after we tromp across the slickrock having animated discussions about politics, etc.

    The discussions of the "etc." nature made the time pass very quickly but are not appropriate to recount here.

    > After some crafty routefinding through cliffbands we make our way to the first drop which is quite impressive.

    Understated a bit maybe. I think this drop was one of the most incredible formations I've ever seen. Worthy of a drop-by-take-a-peek just to see this!

    <Similar to Neon, the watercourse has bored an arch into the landscape, but then plunges 150'? into a massive pothole, with the water level well below the lip. A plan is devised which has Jenny rappelling on the inside while Tom J goes over the down-canyon side of the arch. We rig two ropes so that when we pull, we don't drag them over the entire arch, a nifty setup. Jenny and Tom head down, and just when Jenny would end up in the pothole, Tom tosses her a line and hauls her over to the shoulder of the hole.

    In fact, the "plan" changed en route (as is often the case) but none of this was visable from a top the arch. After my several failed attempts to pendulum over to a pocket in the fall line above Tom, I abandoned all the plans and tossed the bag attached to my harness with the pull cord over to The Emperor. Catching my backward toss, he then deftly rescued me from the gapping jaws of the pothole beneath.

    > Tom J decides that he is not sufficiently motivated but offers to take Ram's car so we need not retrieve the shuttle - a godsend we will appreciate by canyon's end.

    Yes,thanks for that Tom and glad you had a wonderful day ala solo.

    > Eventually we reached the confluence with White Canyon...,

    Eventually...after standing by while SOMEONE'S heart rate normalized over the course of 20 minutes or so of precious daylight. All the while considerations were made for a bivi and potential medical emergency plan. Whew! Note to self: "Stop to eat when hungry and drink when thirsty. Also always go out with patient and kind folks just in case you are stupid about essential things like caloric intake/output."

    <A great day.

    Yes. I whole heartedly agree; it was a most wonderful day capped off with the safe arrival of Judy and Amy.

    > Some pics from the weekend: > http://tinyurl.com/4kso8k4
    > -tom(w)

    Jenny
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