I would like to say it happens every year, but it doesn’t. Some years I glide on through the adventure season without so much as a scratch. It’s like I am untouchable and floating on air. Other years it’s like I am desperately trying to hurt nature with fragile parts of my body. This year started off on cloud 9 and ended up rock bottom with my ass in the air. It reminds me of that old pick-up line “Did it hurt?” “Did What Hurt?” “When you fell from heaven?” Yeah cheesy and tacky I know, and the answer is “Yes, it did hurt, a lot!”.
The awesome weekend originally started out as a plan to do Cable Canyon (one of my favorites) on Saturday and then jump over to the Roost, to do another canyon on Sunday. With a 20% chance of rain on Saturday and not being super familiar with Cable Canyon, I didn’t want to risk Cable with a large group of mostly first-time canyoneers so we decided to do the Roost on Saturday and Cable on Sunday.
Saturday started out awesome, without a hitch. We decided to do the East Fork of White Roost Canyon. I have done the canyon a couple times before and always seem to forget several parts of it. Most of the canyons in the Robber’s Roost area get really narrow, stemming is often required and turning sideways while dragging your pack is always required. It’s not uncommon for the sandstone walls to tear holes in your pants and is something that most people have become used to.
The East Fork of White Roost has two really amazing sections. The first section involves a lot of downclimbing and turning sideways. Most people leave a little skin here. Its a long section and, unless you are an anatomy buff, you will discover a few muscles you didn’t know you have. The section opens up into a narrow area for a little while before it collapses down into another slot area.
The second section features two to four rappels. The first two can be downclimbed. The first one does requre a fast slide for the last 8 feet and could result in an injury. I did it a few years ago and was ok; I forgot about it this time and ended up rapping it. Right after that one, is another one that can be downclimbed by putting your back on one wall and your feet and hands on the other and just edging your self down. The third, you have to rappel , and its a straight forward rap that may have a little water in the bottom. The fourth is a squeezy start and will end in a pool that may be chest deep. I guess it could be a swimmer if it had rained recently. If you like narrow, the canyon is great.
We packed up camp and headed to Hanksville where we treated our mouth to the ambrosia known as Stans. I have not confirmed the rumors myself, so I will not continue to spread them, even though I do believe them. If the rumors are true, Stan could be one of the coolest people on the planet. I would definitely recommend stopping at his place to get something. If you’re new to the area, check out the Hollow Mountain gas station, across the street and west a couple blocks; it is a really cool place, too. After Stans we headed to where we would camp this night and the trailhead for Cable Canyon.
Cable Canyon is in the south part of the swell. It is a long canyon that takes most groups all day to get there. In addition to a long early morning approach, it has a few rappels and two pothole sections, with one pot hole that can be a serious keeper. My friend Kat had never done a keeper before and this pothole, while a keeper, can be pretty easy to get out of and a great place to practice. For the most part, I have hated most of the canyons in the Swell, but Cable really changed my mind.
I was excited to be heading out to do Cable. As we headed out ,I had our mascot, Longneck, the canyoneering Brachiasaurus. We were getting close to the point where we had to exit the canyon in order to climb up to the canyon rim, when the big ‘oops’ happened. I was involved in conversation with Kat and Cal when I stumbled over a rock. It’s not uncommon to trip when walking through a sandy wash, littered with rocks. Really, it happens to several people every trip. However, not to be outdone by everyone, I had to be a special snowflake. As I tripped, my feet naturally sped up to stop me from falling, and my hands shot out in front of me to catch me, the natural reaction that saves everyone. Just before my feet got under me and my hands hit the ground, I tripped again. My hands made contact with the ground but my forward momentum kept me going. My hands already being planted could not help me. My knees hit the ground hard, and I slid forward as I high-fived a rock with my face. At this point the only thing higher than my ass was my feet and ankles which wanted to make sure my full weight was rotated off my knees, into the high five.
After recovering myself, I licked my teeth to make sure they were still there. With luck the chompers were all there and in place. So I got up and kept trudging along. After a few minutes, I stopped to look at the map and seated myself on a rock. I pulled the knee pads down and noticed a gouge out of my knee that went all the way to the bone. Pieces of flesh were stuck in the knee pad. Kat, who was my co-pilot on this trip, was standing next to me, looked horrified, and said, “We are turning back”. I was about to protest, but then realized if it were someone else on the trip, I probably would have called it as well.
I felt bad for everyone who was planning on doing a two-day trip. I gave Kat the information for North Fork of Robbers Roost, another canyon in the White Roost area. I knew she could lead the group through that one on her own. It was unfortunate that the accident happened, but with damage all the way to the bone, and swimming through nasty dead animal water, I figured it probably wasn’t the best idea. I guess it will go on the hit list for next year.