A Zion Backcountry Adventure – Choo Choo Canyon, July 2012 ★
My buddy and webmaster Nick Wilkes was in town from Wisconsin for a little Zion-happy time, and despite the thunderstorms we lined up to do a canyon. There’s a canyon Kip found almost ten years ago now that I had sadly neglected for quite some time – seemed like a good one for Nick and his friend Dan Adler from Long Beach. Since it’s location is not widely known, let’s help maintain a bit of mystery and just call it Choo Choo canyon…
I remembered it as being fairly long, but my memory is famously not-so-good. To my night-owl adjusted personal clock, 7 am seemed like an early start time, which would prove to be a mistake for such a long canyon. We spotted a car at the exit and drove around to the start, which is none-too-close to the head of the canyon. A four-hour approach hike was expected, and though we winnowed that down to 3-1/2 – well, let’s just say, that helped a bit – a half hour less of hiking in the dark.
It was fun to do this canyon again after a 6 year hiatus. Kinda like hanging out with an old, close friend you have not seen in a decade. Well, maybe better than that. With all the recent thunderstorms in Zion, we brought wetsuits and expected lots of water. We put them on when the canyon plunged into the darkness. Twenty minutes later, we took them off again, now damp with our sweat. We would not need them – the storms had apparently missed Choo Choo entirely. Pools toward the end provided a refreshing splash after a long, hot approach and a hottish day in the canyon (though most sections were nicely shaded), but otherwise the canyon was remarkably dry.
We sauntered. We took pictures. We rapped, downclimbed, tobogganed and rappelled again. Choo Choo is a sweet canyon with a lot of sports action. Eventually we got to the last rappel, the biggest of the day, measured at exactly 200 feet. A mere six-hour hike, and we were back at the car. Sweeeeeet!
Hmmm. Think I’ll suggest an earlier start next time. And I suspect Nick and Dan are likely to bring headlamps next time …
Tom is the progenitor of Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide, Utah's premier canyoneering information resource, and Imlay Canyon Gear, America's #1 maker of canyoneering-specific gear. If he's not canyoneering, he's probably snuggled up with a good book.
Posted on Jul 18th, 2012
Canyoneering, Tom Jones, Trip Report, Zion
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