Freeze Fest XII: Trail Canyon
Sitting in the comfort of my Mount Carmel palace, it is easy to come up with a list of "canyons I want to do at FreezeFest". Unfortunately for me, there are people at the Fest who have read my list and gotten psyched to do canyons that involve snow, ice, swimming in icewater plus lots of climbing up and over and through. Trail was at the top of my list because I don't get to do it often, it being somewhat harder than most things in the area; an area I often visit with less-experienced canyoneers.
But I had opened my big mouth, and Trail it was. The canyon is short so an early start was not needed, so we did not! Ram came along even though he was feeling like crap, and hiked half way in with us. There was enough snow on the slabs to make the usual access route extrem, and our supply of Red Bull was insufficient to get us up that way, so we went around from the North which took a little longer. A grand landscape it passes through - wonderful. On the team today was Jenny West, John Diener, Rick Davenport, Jeremy Freeman and myself.
We suited and armored up, and slid into the canyon, literally. My first visit to Trail Canyon was at FreezeFest ONE oh so many years ago, where we escaped out the side, being somewhat over our heads for the middle of winter. We came back in the spring and finished it off! KNOWING what is in there, the gear to bring, the right level of rubber to wear - all these things make a canyon considerably easier. While I enjoy doing first descents, and beta-less descents in general, I also enjoy visiting old friends where I have a really good idea of what is ahead in the canyon.
Trail starts with some nice downclimbs to warm up, then a 55-foot rap off a cairn, a rap that a few talented fellows have downclimbed (yikes yikes yikes!) Then more fun climbing, another little rappel, some narrow sections, a lot of not-too-far-off the deck stuff. We found relatively dry conditions, praise be to Lono. We all knew there was at least one swim ahead. For me, it ended up being two swims, as my careful downclimb into a pool that most stemmed over resulted in a little slip at the end and a plunge for full-immersion. Chilly!!!
That was part of my "not firing on all cylinders" type day. I was awkward on the up-climbs. I was awkward in the squeezes. Heck, I was feeling awkward just standing around. So I was REALLY worried about the hard upclimb at the end, what I consider the crux of the canyon. I have gone low once, and have no need to try again. We got there, it looked familar, tiny Jenny-Mae went ahead and said "yeah, all you guys will fit"... and I followed, only to quickly turn tail and run away when I saw where we were. Yeah, as in NO, I am not going to fit down there, not on a day like today.
Everyone else was ahead, Jenny and Rick going down, John and Jeremy going up, leaving me to deal with the upclimb using my own resources. It took a few false-starts to get revved up - and then I FIRED it! Yee Haw!! Some hilarity ensued as Rick tried to dump his pack and almost lost his pants at the same time, plus a helmet stand, and other struggles, which we viewed from above. (Pictures from John at the crux - thanks John!)
We pop out back into the land of the living. Ramoo was feeling a bit better and strolled up to meet us. We all walked out to the road, and were soon back in camp swilling beer and cooking dinner, prepping for the night's festivities. 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, a very normal time.