Imlay Canyon: Potholes, Narrows, and Log Soup! Zion National Park, UT
A somewhat difficult Imlay. My wonderful niece Rylin and hubby Eric really wanted to do Imlay, and could sneak down for a weekend. Which coordinated well with lil' 'Lana (now an OB instructor, formerly a ZAC guide) being in town (briefly). Ry and Eric brought along Dave Eiriksson; lil' 'Lana brought along Zion NP Trailcrew Chief Shannon Calabro to complete out team. A reasonably early start got us up there before the heat got bad, thanks be to some deity. This would be a first Imlay for everyone but me!
We suited up and hopped in. Quite a few changes since the last time I was through - almost 2 years prior (my longest Imlay gap since 2001). The corridors section was pretty normal, maybe a bit wetter than usual. Then, LOG SOUP. I gave Shannon a few pointers, and she dropped down in and started souping...
After 7 minutes of struggling through the stew, Shannon got to the end, where climbing up the logs would be required, and noted that one of the big logs there moved when she pushed on it. I am happy that Shannon was cautious. I rapped in and worked my way up there. Yup, with not much touching, it definitely moved. We're talking a log that is 18" in diameter and maybe 8 or 10 feet long, wedged in vertically. I was able to chimney up next to it and step over onto the pile without touching it. Shannon threw me up the end of a rope, and I tied that around the unstable log. The peeps back at the top of the rap-in pulled on the rope and... without much pulling, BOOM, down it came, and the log next to it, and the log next to that! Glad I stepped back 10 feet!
After this scary moment, we climbed up the rest of the wood and rapped down the other side. Normally, the Corridors section takes less than an hour to the first real narrows. This time it took us almost two hours.
The the first rap, we plunged on it. For me, like seeing an old friend for the first time in a year and a half. We got some good light here and there. The Birth Canal was relatively easy. Yada yada... till we got to Big Bertha! The water was down from the lip quite a bit, but not enough to stand on the bottom and boost. I started to explain the process of hooking to Eric... and realized it would be better to just do it myself. Down in I went. On this trip, thinking I probably would use the hooks, I had them set up well with key-floats all around. Swam over... Hmmm. Those drilled holes were looking a little worn, but the Talons held in there pretty well. Eric came down and helped me get my clumsy feet into the slings. Three hook moves made - out the top. A SNAP! We pulled the others out and moved on. The stump lasso (actually, throw to guided rappel) worked well. Rylin made me proud on the Basketball Jones move. Out into the sunshine and the break. Ah... a late second lunch.
Four pm it was - kinda late! We upped our game a bit for the second narrows, and the team was working well. When we got to the hook-out potholes the teamwork kinda broke down, as the stances were too narrow for much passing, and the 'boys team' ended up in front for awhile. Eric did a great job of mono-doighting out of the potholes, three times in a row. At the end, Elana took the lead, we moved the ropes forward, set up a guided. People were getting cold, but the team work kicked in and by the time I got to the top of the last rappel (having rapped the penultimate last), there was but one person there. Down we went. A quick walk out the Narrows, and all was well.
A good time had by all!