Cedar Breaks Canyoneering: Too Wet Canyon


My friends Kip Marshall and Matt "Sherpa" Smith had been scouting a canyon in the mountains above Cedar City, and they invited me along for the third try. The first try had been made in the spring, when there was much too much snow around, but the approach had been figured out. The second try in June had been more successful, but when they got to the head of the canyon, it was flowing with WAY too much water. For some reason, they thought I was a Class C Canyon gun, thus the invitation to me. We found the canyon with just the right amount of water - just enough to make it fun, not enough to make it more serious.

All pictures in this Latest Rave are by Matt Smith.

Here’s the first waterfall, which we scrambled around.

Below the waterfall, the streambed was filled with wildflowers and lush growth. We bushwhacked through this Eden. Very nice.

Shortly, we came to a drop, downclimbed a ways, then rigged a rappel. Using proper ACA technique, the rap starts on the side of the waterfall, but then you get a nice face-shot on the way down. Very fun!

After the face shot.

Small waterfalls above the first rappel.

The canyon continued with a disconnected series of short drops and narrows between beautiful sections of walking in the stream. It even had a jump. Here’s Kip about to rap a chockstone down into a slot, faceshot included.

And down under the boulder.

Here’s a nice slot, below that previous rappel.

A quick stop for lunch.

More lovely stream walking.

Finally, the canyon rodeo’s up, and started to drop.

As usual, we were too busy in the good part to take pictures. We built a nice cairn to rap from, rapped into a couple of cold pools, and, unfortunately, near the end, found a couple slings around logs, thus 'ruining' our first descent. Darn!

A 100' rap into a pool led to this, the final rap. Rapping off a large floating log, we went down a nice flute 80 feet, then around a corner and down this final 30 foot waterfall. The Kipster, rapping.

The shiny-domed one (me) bagging the rope at the bottom of the waterfall.

Matt Smith at the bottom of the waterfall.

As we were packing up it started to sprinkle. So we ducked under an adjacent overhang and had a little lunch. It rained lightly for awhile, then picked up steam and started really coming down.

When the rain reached its peak, suddenly bombs started exploding out in front of us! At least, it seemed that way. Football-sized rocks were knocked off the wall above us, and they exploded into the mud in front of us. Very scary. We crouched under the overhang.

Then the canyon flashed. Where we had-been picked up flow in three or four steps, until it was surging with brown water, maybe 60 CFS. It was raging. We were perched on the edge of the pool at the base of the waterfall, and the pool started filling up. Since the bombs only came down when the rain was really raging, we waited for a good lull, packed up and started hiking downcanyon.

Our side of the canyon, at least the woody area we could walk on, pinched off in a few hundred yards. We found another little overhang to hang out under, and uh, hung out for a while.

Hanging out, waiting for the storm to abate, eating all our food.

Eventually the storm passed. We would need to cross the stream to get downcanyon, and at its height, this was suicidal. So we waited. And waited. After an hour, the stream was down to a reasonable level, so we went back to the pool to cross. This is the waterfall AFTER it went down, so it was at some point, twice this big!!

We hiked downcanyon, sidehilling through the forest. Eventually, the flow went lower and we ended up in the streambed, hiking by braille at some points, through the murky water. Then we hiked out. A long way. It got dark. There were cows. I got tired.

Matt did a great job of driving home the next day - thanks Matt. And thanks to Kip for inviting me along. And to the storm for waiting until we were out. Whew. A little too close. A little Too Wet.