Telephone Canyon, Anchor Rigging, and fire in Zion National Park, UT
Anna was in town for a week of fun canyons, and tried to set up a Heaps trip. It did not set up, so we backed off to Telephone. Grabbed a permit in the morning (thanks Erin), hopped on the very full rush-hour bus, made it to the trailhead about 9am. Compared to last week, it was not all that hot out. As in, it was hot, just not Scorching Hot! I was Jonesing to do Telephone because I had not been in quite a while, and I know the burned up stumps for the first rappel had all rotted out by now. How should the first rappel go?
We started smelling smoke on the way up, and had a bit of smoke and falling ash all day long. Arriving at the head of the canyon, we were surprised to see a rope disappearing into a crack. Is Telephone that popular? The party ahead of us was just getting ready to climb their stuck rope... Bailey went down and helped them free the knots stuck in the crack, then helped them get the rope pulled. Not a good place for that rap. But what WAS a good place?
As in many situations, there is no obvious best... but not in this case. A large, flat rock lay right next to the place where the water goes over the edge, allowing an easy rappel start, a beautiful rappel line, minimal webbing and easy rigging (and inspection). So we rigged that up and went on it. The rap was 155 feet this way. We went down into the shade and enjoyed the coolness. Second rappel off a jammed stone, awkward start, stem over a skanky pool - the usual stuff.
And off we were. As Bailey launched on the first rappel, a gang of five showed up behind us—CRAZY! I thought this canyon was obscure! But we kept ahead of them, outta sight, man!
Rappel, Rappel, Rappel. We re-rigged a few that were needing re-rigging, mostly for being short. We downclimbed a few and meat-and-caught a few. Found a few blackberries. Noticed the smokiness was increasing - was Zion Canyon ablaze and we would have to hike out the top?
Eventually the last rappel. We slid on down, found more blackberries including RIPE ones, traversed steep dirt and huffed it over to the West Rim Trail. Eventually we found the source of the smoke - the top of Cathedral Mountain was ablaze.
We chilled at the top of Walt's Wiggles as the Park Service was concerned about blazing tree trunks falling on our heads as we traversed Refrigerator Canyon - but eventually let us go... and go we did, to another very full rush hour bus, and to Oscars for some well-deserved victuals. Mmmm. Ribs!
Better Canyon than I remembered. Well worth a yearly visit. With better fitness, more water and less heat, we might have even thrown in Behunin - but not on this day!