Not-Imlay Canyon, Zion: Rope Retrieval, Scenic Rappels, and the Narrows
Canyoneering? It is getting kinda cold at night, but the fine weather in Zion National Park is holding so, when someone mentioned that ropes were hanging on the last rap in Not-Imlay, we thought we would throw together a trip and go get em sooner rather than later. Invites went out and were quickly returned - guess more people than me have a touch of the cabin fever. Weekday travel would allow driving into Zion Canyon. Sweet temps would allow a reasonable start.
The posse gathered on this occasion: Andy Archabald (aka Double-A), Louis Johnson and Everett Boutillet from St George; plus Amanda Jessop and Diana Hall from Springdale/Zion Adventures. We spotted a car down at the Temple of Sinawava and hit the trail about 8:20. Pretty cold in Sdale at the early hour - nice to be doing a dry canyon this time of year. The vigorous uphill hike had most of us stripping off the down jackets fairly early, and once we made it into the sunshine atop Scout Lookout, many of us stripped down to shirtsleeves.
The approach was fine. After a remarkably dry summer and fall, the Imlay righthand Sneak route trail was quite well-defined. A touch of snow was found in this deep, shaded canyon from the storm a couple weeks prior. We zagged right at the head of Not Imlay, deftly avoided the water and brush in the canyon bottom by side-hilling, and soon found ourselves at the beautiful slabs overlooking the first rappel, the actual river and Narrows below hidden by the folds of the landscape.
Last time I did this canyon, we rapped off a tree to the left of the watercourse to a dirty ledge, then precariously climbed down to a lower tree, and did a complex rap down from there. Not the most elegant. Some person I had talked to since had rapped directly down the watercourse from a tree at the top, and said it worked well. We selected a stout tree in the watercourse, and Double-A went down first... and it quickly became apparent that the line of descent was too far to the left (looking out), forcing the rappeller into the messy corner that was one of the undesirable parts of the previous rappel sequence. After AA was down, we transferred the anchor to a different tree to the right of the watercourse, putting the line of descent down the MIDDLE of the watercourse, and this turned out to be a good choice. We rapped a full 300 feet to a ledge, from which a reasonable downclimb/traverse could be made to the big ledge below.
Rappels and downclimbs followed. I like that Not-Imlay Canyon is almost completely dry, though I did succeed in tossing one of the ropes into the ONLY puddle capable of getting it fully wet. There's a nice V-Slot to downclimb, reminiscent of North Wash, and an old bolt for a rap that I had viewed with suspicion last trip - but this trip it somehow seemed better. Old, for sure, and there are easy to get natural anchors available... A couple more raps, and we paused to eat lunch atop the last rappel, looking down into the Narrows. Ropes from the previous group were hanging there, and we pulled them up to have a look. A pretty ugly coreshot was found more than half way down one of the two strands, but otherwise the ropes looked fairly new.
I rapped down first, hoping to get a shot of the coreshot lying in-situ with the edge that 'shot' it - no such luck. The ropes had been shifted in the process of getting the last two people down, so the coreshot was not lined up with anything in particular. Before rapping, I stone-knotted the stuck ropes, then used them as an anchor halfway down on a ledge, so I could take photos of everyone going by. "Everyone" in this case being Louis and Everett, after which I was tired of hanging out on a small ledge, and took the opportunity to descend to the ground. A mighty fine rappel it is, too.
Ropes got re-arranged. People rappelled down. After each rappeller, we shifted the rope a few feet to move the rub spot. Rappellers were pulled a bit at the bottom so they could land on dry ground. Pictures were taken. Narrows Hikers were amused. Ropes were pulled, coiled and stacked onto packs. We hiked out.
A fine day in a fine canyon with fine people. Pizza and beer at the Noodle after was also pretty fine. Thanks everyone for coming out on short notice, AND insisting we have a great time!