Canyoneering in Utah, Quicksand and Teamwork (Part 2)

Mt. Carmel, Utah

Mt. Carmel, right outside Zion National Park, Utah

“Is there really such a thing as quicksand?”

In my last post, Canyoneering in Utah, Harnesses, Helmets & Hooks (Part 1), Hubby, Teen Daughter and I got geared up. We hiked to the top of the canyons, listened closely as James Milligan, our Zion Outfitters guide, taught us how to rappel on vertical sandstone, and learned that friction is our friend.

Tip:  “Lower you butt until it’s in line with your feet, then ‘walk’ down the canyon.”

James informed us that the bottom of the canyons had been dry for the past four years, but it had flooded in April as well as rained the night before. We were going to have to jump into water. How deep was the water? Not sure. What was at the bottom of the water? Quicksand!

Ropes in the canyon.

Ropes in the canyon.

We rappelled down this canyon

We rappelled down this canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intense hiking.

Intense hiking.

Narrow canyon walls.

Narrow canyon walls.

Hubby rappelled first, then belayed Teen Daughter, me and James. When there was just a pool of (cold) water at the canyon bottom, Hubby would let us know where is seemed shallowest. Then we’d jump in and scramble to flat ground. Teamwork was essential!

James guessed (right) that there was quicksand at the bottom of one pool. I’d doubted if quicksand really existed. Hon, quicksand is real! Hubby went down first, hoisted himself out of the goop and made it to flat ground. Whew! He held the rope below while James held it above, creating a taut line for me and Teen Daughter to grab onto and, hand-over-hand, get us out of the muck. But the muck pulled me in!

Want to know what panic feels like?  It feels like quicksand sucking you in, drawing you deeper as you try to kick your way out. Help!

I used all of my upper body strength to pull up on that taut rope.  I hollered for Hubby to grab my arm and GET ME THE HECK OUT OF THERE!

Once we were all out, the feeling was fabulous.  WE DID IT!

The setting sun made the rocks even redder.

The setting sun made the rocks even redder.

 

Huge birds' nest in the crags.

Huge birds’ nest in the crags.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back and up.

Looking back and up.

What a day!

We weren't done yet. We crawled like Spiderman up a sandstone face to reach our car.

This pic was overexposed, but I adjusted it as much as possible.  Not on flat ground yet!

The only way back was up!

A fallen tree blocked the less steep path back to the car, so we had to change plans. “Huh?” I asked. “We’re going straight up?” Thank goodness James knew what to do. When we couldn’t find a foothold, he placed his foot sideways so we could brace against it like a step! We “Spidermanned” our way up the sandstone (which, I learned the hard way, you can’t grasp like rock because petrified sand dunes crumble when you grab them) and finally reached the car…Gritty. Dirty. Wet. Sooo happy!

When can I go again?

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