FreezeFest XIV: Hog 2 (Swine Flue) North Wash Canyoneering
Last canyon of the year. The day before the Black Hole calls for something modest—don't wanna get too worked before A. the big party; B. the big campfire session and C. the BIG DAY. Let's do a HOG, some people said. Hog 2 aka Swine Flue was selected as a good choice - and a bunch of people signed on.
No California car pool on this one... and we would be going out the bottom, which is my preferred exit. So we piled into two vehicles and drove on up to the Hog Ridge. The road was in good shape, and then I was a little surprised to see a drill rig up next to our parking lot. Darn! Not much of a drill rig, but... Bright and early 10:30 start leaving the cars.
We wandered out across the tundra. It tends to be windy up there, but it was not too bitter and most everyone had sufficient coverage to be comfortable. I think the wind was at our back, too. We soon found ourselves dropping into the head of the canyon; worked our way down in to a sheltered spot and armored up for the business ahead.
I had no idea anyone rapped in anymore... but once a rope was set up most people decided that was a good idea. Hog Two has this oddity that the two hardest/scariest/best/coolest things in the canyon are at the start and at the finish. Except for the "bird symphony place" which is in the middle, and was one of my best moments EVER in a canyon. After a brief warmup section, the start is a bit of a thin traverse into the crease of the canyon. It looks hard and scary, and it is certainly not the former. After doing it a couple times, one realizes it is pretty straightforward. I jumped right in so I could provide a spot from the "in" position.
Only three of us dared the "death traverse", the rest rapping off a deadman anchor that was in-place back a few feet down the slickrock from where the warmup entry canyon petered out. After the traverse, there are a couple steep high downclimbs that are intimidating, but have a lot of holds so they are not difficult. First time out on this kind of stuff, Nathan from SLC grabbed the ball and ran with it - good job! The other people rapped into the slot and we all headed downcanyon.
Such a nice canyon. Just enough work to keep you warm, plenty of variety of moves, (no bird symphony today). Down in the slot the temps were good and the wind lacking, though the sun felt good when we stopped, in the few places it was available. No reason to push the pace helped maintain a casual atmosphere.
And then the finale! First time through this canyon for me, we did the finale in a flash flood. A small flash flood, well, TINY flash flood. But it made for a lot of excitement!! It is a downclimb into a dark chimney. Not knowing it goes easily as a downclimb, one would think it is a rappel - thus there are anchors here and from time to time a fixed handline. But really - an awesome downclimb (and safe(ish) one), even in the dark not being able to see. On this day, there was some light in there. We all slid on down the flue.
Then a sweet walk out. Some ice in the streambed near the end got skated on (after words of caution). Back to the cars at 3 pm. Back to camp to change into dry clothes and gussy up for a small-scale potluck dinner, and further merriment. I'm happy to say my elaborate campfire build both fired up well (even without Boy Scout juice) and burned quite satisfactorily. Even the 80 lbs stump I brought from home!
Thanks to Nathan Smith and Deanpaul Russell for sharing pictures with me for this Rave.