Escalante Canyons: Moes Slot, Neon, and an Exploration!
Went down Escalante-way for Memorial Day. Crew was Alicia, Tom and Sharon Talboys, Tom Wetherill up from Tucson for the occasion, and Tom Jones (me) (a 3-Tom trip!).
Target #1 was a slot I have had an eye on for a couple of years. Perhaps it was the name - Allen's Dump One - which had caused a lack of takers, or perhaps it was my lack of enthusiasm. Would it be good? Hard to say, the only thing I really knew is it would have a big entrance.
I love canyoning with folks from Arizona – they’re so happy to be in a REAL canyon they’re willing to carry the ropes, or run back for the 300 footer when Tom (that’s me) decides we really do need it afterall.
We get going casual in the morning and hike over to the top of the canyon. "Uh, why are these other people wandering around?" After having my eye on this thing since 1998, we choose the same day and same hour to explore it as another group from Salt Lake City, friends of friends. Who-da-thunk!
After poking around the steep loose scree at the top of the canyon, we pick a pretty clean shot off the rim. Looks like 240 feet to the bottom - and it is, but actually exactly 200 feet to the highest place the feet can touch the ground. (The other group rapped in a little further upcanyon - looked less clean, but shorter.)
Well, that was fun! We follow the canyon down and it has a few moderately interesting slot sections – like this…
We’re playing hopscotch with the SLC folks, so when arriving at a real drop, we have lunch and let them get ahead. We are able to Omni-sling this drop, thus leaving the canyon clean (ghosting), with the help of “the other guys” cleaning both slings at the start.
I'm terrible with names, so I won't even try, but here's "the other guys" working hard to hide their faces, as Steve provides backup to a chockstone they slung for this drop.
Tom W rounding a bend, lower in the canyon.
And that’s about it. Not much of a canyon. C-List. So I won’t provide any beta other than: “I did it so you don’t have to”.
We really wanted to do the FULL length of the canyon. Well, "I" wanted to, for completeness. But the canyon devolved into a brush-filled nightmare and the troops mutinied. Okay, okay. We declared ourselves complete and looked for a way up onto the canyon's shoulder to catch the exit buttress.
Nothing left but getting back to the car and drinking beer.
This is the part I had checked out in 1998 - a nice climb up a swooping buttress. Maybe the best part of the day.
W thought this looked like, well, some guy giving us the finger. So he posed.
This be the Mighty Allen Dump One. A mighty slot, but not much of a canyon.
A few exposed moves near the top. Fun.
Nice flowers all over the bloomin' place.
We wander back to camp, stopping at "the other guys" camp to visit with friends and compare notes. A quick dinner and we pack up to pack down to Fence Canyon Camp for further adventures.
Time to pack down to Fence Camp. After a quick dinner, we strap on the big packs, complete the arduous task of obtaining a permit, and head out.
We chase the shadow line across the Fence bench
Breakfast with the Talboys.
We cross the river and climb to the bench.
… then work our way across, yada yada yada, and down this slot to the slickrock above the canyon du jour. The lovely Ms. Scotter nimbly descending a little slot – her specialty.
This is a rap n swim kiddie canyon, so lets get at it!
Ms. Scotter a-rappin'
Tom Talboys a-swimmin'
The gang a-walkin'
A bit of a downclimb to a quick wade, Bubba looking way-psyched.
..and down another rappel, to access the lovely riparian area, just busting with life (and poison ivy).
Some a-wadin' in the riparian zone
Even more a-wadin' in the riparian zone, land of life
I think we're having a good time...
And the famous drop into the slot. With flushing of the wood of late, there is the coolest little downclimb and scramble through a natural bridge to access this spot, the head of the swim. A variety of methods were used to surmount this obstacle.
Nothing like swimming between soaring red walls...
"Where is Moe Slot?" you might be asking. It's kind of an open secret now, so it is north of Neon. There are a few issues with Kelsey's description of the canyon, the most important being this:
Moe Slot is a long, narrow canyon with a lot of swimming. In the past, there has been a LOT of wood in those narrow slots, making it a very difficult canyon to descend. Difficult, arduous and dangerous. Swimming in really cold water choked with wood, then arriving at a block - that's serious.
At this time, Moe Slot has been flushed out, and is pretty much a romp. It is kinda long, has a bunch of rappels, some navigation problems - but overall a romp for anyone with some skills. So, enjoy. And be aware that it could revert to its serious nature with the next big storm.
Please take care of it. No need for further bolts, please don't.
Bubba found the artwork panels near the mouth of Choprock. Here's a couple pics. The art is pretty low-contrast, so I bumped it up in Fotoshop, thus the slightly strange colors.
Early grafitti. Charming.
I think we're having a good time.
After a delightful day in Moe, we decide we cannot leave without showing W the delights of Neon. We don’t really want to do the “whole thing”, so pick an entry point that Bubba knows about halfway up.
For this entry, we follow the slickrock bench around to the entry point.
After a bit of an approach and a bite to eat, we gear up for the arduous descent. Some clad in neoprene, some not.
Alicia enjoys a little early morning slot-climbing.
A bit of a downclimb/rappel/handline/slide down a slab into our first swim. Wow! Really wakes you up!
Here comes Sharon a-swimmin'
The latest in canyoneer fashion - the shirt wrapped around the helmet. Gotta admit, keeps the shirt dry.
W a-walkin' down a sandy corridor
and a-swimin' a chilly pool
Sharon a-keepin' her shirt dry, still!
Art shot. C'mon, I'm allowed one!
Made it to the final section in good order. Climbed out and rapped back in at the "Ram-keeper" off the new bolt (yuck).
The big keeper at the end was full of water. W decided to jump (after careful inspection by previous descenders). And here's a great picture of him jumping!!! Uh, well, yeah, guess I should have waited a little longer. And the digital takes a while to cycle, so by then...
The big keeper was not a-keepin’ this time around. Here it is with lots of water in it. Last time I was here, the water was about 6 feet lower, and it was a bit harder to exit.
Renee and Alan left us a reminder of their deep and abiding affection for each other. Aw, how sweet – NOT! Yo, clueless ones, I don’t spray-paint your living room, please don’t chalk up my canyon walls!
And finally, Tom T. rapping the Golden Cathedral.
Yada yada yada, hot hike out, long drive home.