Arizona Strip - Waterholes Canyon - Feb 21, 2009

(Two Bolts placed for new/old anchor)

"In SETI, the Water Hole is the band of radio frequencies between 1420 MHz and 1640 MHz. This is the band between the hydrogen line and the strongest hydroxyl spectral line, and is notable because it is a quiet region between two notable frequencies; it is theorized that this would be a good band for communications to or from extraterrestrial intelligences.

The term was coined by Bernard Oliver. The combination of hydrogen and hydroxyl yields water (the "water" part of the name); the "hole" part refers to the sudden drop in radio noise within this band. The term also serves as a pun as it has been theorised that extraterrestrial species would use this band as a commonly recognised communication channel (in English a watering hole is a vernacular reference to a common place to meet and talk).

No no, not THAT Water Hole, Waterholes Canyon, down on the Arizona Strip.

I had planned on doing Waterholes a couple of years earlier after a Glen Canyon trip, with Todd Martin and Aaron Locander, but bad weather and an attempted suicide the night before had pre-empted an actual attempt. This time...

Waterholes is famous for sticking ropes. Some have referred to the Waterholes Rope Exchange Program. Here's Bonnie's account, and, of the same trip, Luke's account with pictures.

Packing packs at the trailhead: Aaron Locander, Steve Ramras, Hank Moon (driver), Rich Rudow (invisible), Sonny Lawrence, Todd Martin, Tom Jones (taking picture).

Rich had picked up a permit a few days ago, so we arrived at the edge of the canyon as the sun was rising.

Ram and I had visited the "Middle" section of the canyon a week previously, so we opted the cut around the middle section and descend the "Escape Route" to get to the Lower Part more quickly. The Middle Section is a nice, Navajo Sandstone slot with a couple of rappels.

We were hoping and planning on re-engineering the BIG DROP to avoid the infamous Rope-Eating Crack, and to set it up so others could too. We had a lot of rope (including backup strands, in case we stuck 600' of rope at the Big Drop), TWO bolt kits, pool toys and wet suits for the river segment - big loads.

Alert readers will note that this is actually the permit from 10 days prior, rather than the permit for that day.

Lichen or leave it. The entry Ram and I chose allowed us time to sniff a few lichens on the way to the Big Drop.

Sandstone detail, by Ram.

The Young Bucks caught up with us soon enough.

Waterholes is an interesting canyon that draws a lot of attention, being just outside "civilization", if one wants to call Page that. We found a lot of trash in the canyon, including a LOT of ropes and webbing. The Lower section had fixed ropes on 4 rappels/downclimbs, and the fixed ropes were new-looking and in good shape, so we left them in place (and used them, after careful inspection). Here's one fixed line on a 'rappel' down into a narrowish slot.

Evidently, this was a Banditos route!

We were able to stay dry up to this point, so when we came to a water-filled pothole, Todd pulled out his boat and started pumping. These are two bolt studs found near the top of the drop into the pool, from which some have set up a zip line.

Of interest here is the erosion pattern. From the fin of sandstone downstream of the left bolt, we can surmise that the bolts were flush with the surface originally, but the surface eroded down over the years. Hmmmm - interesting!

Todd carefully paddling across...

The rest of us put on wetsuits, just in case, but getting IN the water, even though only waist-deep, was not appealing in the early-morning chill. Todd carefully paddled across, then we used a pull cord to ferry first packs, then people back and forth across the puddle.

Getting from the bottom of the downclimb into the pool toy was a little tricky. In this picture, Sonny is stepping into the boat...

...which proved to not be an effective tactic. As the boat slid out from beneath him, Sonny channeled Daniele Hypólito, tucked his head and executed a forward somersault into the water - avoiding his other option, a sinus-filling-with-algae forward belly-flop. Unfortunately, he did not stick the landing, which severely effected his scores...

Now wet, Sonny was kind enough to hang out in the water and hold the boat steady for the other gymnasts.


Waterholes 1 == Waterholes 2 == Waterholes 3
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