September 08, 2014

 Rappelling out of Pine Creek Canyon Zion National Park

The night before we left for Zion, I had a chain of events that included a pre wedding rehearsal, a sox baseball game after work the following day, than the wedding with a good friend of mine which went into the night and was a lot of fun!   I didn't get a chance to get back home until midnight and we had to wake up at around 5am to catch a cab over to the airport and get on a flight to Las Vegas so we could rent a car and get over to Zion before the sun started to set....phew!!!! I must say,  I don't think I woke up out of a sleep deprived daze for almost a week after the baseball game as every morning we woke up, the clock inched towards 5-6 am. We had to beat the heat with our hikes up the mountains around Zion and more importantly, avoid the potential thunderstorms that could develop in the afternoons creating in welcoming flash floods in the slot canyons we were visiting in Zion. 

After grabbing the rental car, driving, and collecting food and water, we made it to our campground and got some rest before we started our canyoneering vacation journey through some of the best slot canyons in the United States.
Keyhole canyon looking up into the morning sky
Next to our campsite we had some complete yahoo idiots trashing it up while we were attempting to catch some sleep after a long series of days prior to reaching Zion.  After a few turns on the thermarest and finding myself starring into the stars, it was 5 am already and we had to get ready for day one in Zion Utah for a canyoneering trip into Keyhole and Pine Creek Canyons.

Keyhole canyon is rated at a 3BI so it has a technical section to the canyon but it is one of the few "Beginner" canyons that Zion has to offer. We drive up to the trailhead after obtaining our permits and hiked up the slabrock sandstone past the hoodoo spire formation and down into this slot canyon. The entrance is a greyish red canyon that we had to climb down and travel through some water to get to the technical section of the canyon. 
Entrance to keyhole Canyon Zion national Park Utah
It was early in the morning so the sun did not have a chance to allow the canyon walls illuminate the reds and oranges that some of these canyons are known for but as we moved down canyon we could start to see the sun working its way into the canyons opening. 
Sun starting to work its way through Keyhole canyon Zion national park
We came out to an opening and noticed that the canyon continued into a technical section with bolts located on the wall next to the three drops we proceeded to follow. 
Keyhole canyon Zion National Park
We work our way through the three rappels of this canyon in around 2 hours total which didn't take us too long to get through at all. There was a swim towards the end that out these wetsuits to very  good use!! Once we got though the cold hot dog water, the canyon opened up and we found ourselves near the car and able to walk back with out any troubles at all.  That was a nice introduction canyon with some pretty fluted walls and fun challenges that allowed us to get prepped for the longer days ahead. 
Keyhole canyon Zion canyoneering

We got in the red Lego made rental and drove down the street to the next canyon which was near the tunnel that takes people back into the main portion of the park.  We found some parking and walk up to the entrance of pine creek canyon.  The ranger comes up to us and says, "Pine Creek"?.....I nod my head,  and he says "good Luck" !...there are a lot of groups in that canyon already.  ugghh..just what I thought!!! The canyon is backed up like a six flags great America ride but that was fine, we were prepared to take our time and maybe even meet some new friends along the way.

Pine Creek Canyon Zion
Pine Creek Canyon Zion National Park
We proceeded to drop through the first 3 or 4 raps and find that the sun is having a hard time working its way through the ceiling of the canyon. Furthermore, the cold water and the rappels into the water made this canyon a bit chilly so the wetsuits did come in handy even for the beginning of sept.

Pine Creek Canyon wadding through water
Eventually the canyon started to open and we found that we were nearing the end of the canyon portion of this trip.  We could see one of the windows that was made when they blasted out the tunnel. looking downward, we could see the canyon starting to show off its size before the final drop. The Sun did not work its magical way over to the side to allow me to get the best canyon pictures of the water and the rays bending into the slots like laser beams but I was able to catch some of the beauty this popular canyon has to offer.  
Second to the Last drop in Pine Creek Canyon Zion Utah

The Last drop consisted of a 100ft free drop into the beginning of the valley below which was situated behind the great arch.  This was a beautiful place to rap down into as this concluded our canyon trip and allowed us to heat back up a bit in the desert while scrambling over boulders to get to the road below.

Rappelling the last 100 ft. drop before the walk out into the valley below.
 As we were leaving, we were passing up groups of people but ended up making it to the road by having to B line up a 45 degree slop and meeting some of the other canyoneers at the top.  Our car was also back at the top of the drop and after a few hitch hiking attempts, we were able to get a ride from some local canyoneers.  what an awesome first day we had but we wanted to get some rest and prepare for one hell of a canyon the following day, Behunin canyon.

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