First Trip Through Pandora's Box, Capital Reef, UT
Met the Ram for a little Southern Utah action. Unfortunately, knee problems prevented me from being 'on the boat', but I was able to get a day in on each side. Start with The Squeeze, end with Wiggun's. After a slideshow at REI, we blast down to the Factory Butte campsite, arriving at 4 am. Jeez. Never seen stars so bright...
Good to get out of the city, where the stars can be seen clearly.
(Photo Illustration with help from Astronomy Picture of the Day)
One thing about travelling with the Ram, you get to see a bunch of sunrises.
First day, they went off and did Trail Canyon while I went back to bed. Felt better with another 8 hours of sleep. So this sunrise was the NEXT day... up for an early start to The Squeeze.
The ExCiTeMeNt of another great day in the canyons!
L to R: Steve Levin, Saint Judy (aka Princess Grace), Steve Ram, Larry Halford.
We charge off into the hinterland. After strolling the banks of the mighty Muddy River, we start the gruesome climb up the Moroni Slopes.
Looking up the Grand Gorge of the Muddy, from the Moroni Slopes (Squeeze and Wiggun's)
Hiking up the lovely Moroni Slopes. (Squeeze and Wiggun's)
Looking down into the top of The Squeeze. Lots of interesting Navajo Fins.
Ram showed us his way in, further up and with no rappels.
A little downclimbing to get to the Squeeze. (Squeeze and Wiggun's)
It HAD been raining as of late, and we expected the canyon to be full. We were not to be disappointed. Here, Larry is swimming one of those nice pools. (Squeeze and Wiggun's)
Here's the first Squeeze Natural Bridge. (Squeeze and Wiggun's)
The weather had been iffy for a few days, raining a bit on and off. We hiked up the Slopes with the understanding that we would evaluate the sky before dropping in. There were storm clouds around, but they were a ways off, so in we went. But the weather was gloomy and the lighting subdued.
The Squeeze is a great canyon. We had water up high, and then the canyon dried out. The two keeper potholes were empty of water, but the BIG keeper was largely full of sand. EZ.
Since we were cold, I apparantly did not take very many pictures.
The big double rap. There was sun at the bottom when arrived at the top, but by the time I got down there, the sun was gone and it had started to sprinkle. Uh oh. Everyone got real business-like about getting down the canyon. (Squeeze and Wiggun's)
Larry and I sent the slab and went around this little section of small potholes, but Steve, Steve and Judy went on through. (Squeeze and Wiggun's)
Happy to be alive. We did not, at this point, realize that the crux of the day would be driving up the dugway in the Chinle Shale in the rain. Did I mention the rain? (Squeeze and Wiggun's)
They all went off to do canyons off Dominy Reservoir, while I went home to finish up a tent project. A week later we rendezvous'd for another A-List canyon. This one's a secret. I had heard it referred to as "Pandora's Box", not to be opened without consequences, so we'll call it that. Don't ask me where it is, 'cause I won't tell.
Days with the RAM start before dawn...
A few hours of hiking, and we found a canyon!
The team, walking the edge, looking for a way in. George, Matt and Scott.
Pandora is unusual in that it has a LOT of squeezing and climbing over. We left a lot of skin behind.
Bunch of those squeezes end up in short drops into potholes. We did some good partner climbing to get past these things efficiently. Marty proved to be the master of this stuff.
Some nice n' pretty sections.
After a couple hours of working through these little squeeze sections, we came to the grand finale. This big rappel had almost everyone freaked out. Back to the land of the living.
Pandora was an excellent find in an obscure place. Thanks to Ryan Cornia (shown, life-size) for sharing with us.
A short hike out a beautiful canyon occupied the rest of the day.
Well, maybe not that short.
Back at the car - end of another fabulous day in the canyons. People pick over their wounds, and... HEY, let's bop into town and score some expresso shakes - off we go.