First Descent of Not So Hot with Echo Canyon in Zion National Park, UT
It WAS hot out, but a north-running canyon, early start and projected cloud cover combined to make this reasonable. THIS being exploring a branch of Echo Canyon that comes off Cable Mountain. The team for this adventure was Kody Prisbrey from St G, Jonathan Zambella from Springdale, Felicia Bicknell from Phoenix and me.
There are many branches of Echo Canyon. Bill Westerhoff has explored the Main Stem head coming down from Lemmon Spring, and it has only one rappel - but it is a good one! The other branches look like they COULD have something interesting in there, but probably not. This was my first venture into one of these, and it turned out to be not so hot.
We got a reasonably early start. Getting to the head required some bushwhacking down a watercourse, though taking the ridge to the east might have proven a tad easier. We came to a drop, FiddleSticked up a tree and dropped over the edge. I brought along a new Force Gauge to try out, mostly just to figure out how to use it, rather than collect data. Check - gotta figure out how to keep it from timing out while someone is on rappel.
First rap was like 30 feet, then we had jungle-whack down to the next cliffband. Kip-type terrain! Next anchor was a big rock back from the edge. JZ allowed me to rap first, and... ulp - a bit taller than I thought - good thing we brought along the 300 foot rope! For the second rap, we started by Fiddling a big rock (Kody backing up), but after seeing how big it was, it seemed prudent to do it as a regular pull-through type rappel. So we did. Turns out, the rap was only about 220 feet. Dramatic!
Now we were IN FOR IT!
But IT didn't turn out to be much. A couple downclimbs, but mostly just walking through the trees and brush and sandy wash of the canyon as it made its way north to the main stem of Echo Canyon. Pleasant enough, but not what we call 'canyoneering'. Close to the end, it sweetened up with some pools, raps, downclimbs. A couple tricky anchors - you know, the fun stuff. This section might be fun to add to the normal Middle Echo route. Conditions were VERY DRY, and the pools were skanky. With more water, more normal conditions, it might be a fun splasher section.
Then down the trail to the bus. Another first descent in Zion (which is, you know, so crowded). Not So Hot, but a fun day out nonetheless.