“It was like playing in cow poop, only cow poop smells better, and playing in poop wasn’t near as much fun.”
– Matt Brejcha

Porter enjoying the sweet smell of pure putrid rankness. The goal was simple: Keep your lips dry.

After the last successful uutah trip in Zion earlier this month, it was obvious that the group would need another couple of days in the desert resolve their issues with each other. I (being the only idealist in the group) determined I would give my more ignorant friends one more chance to be enlightened. Since everyone was coming from different directions, we reached a compromise location of Hidden Splendor in the San Rafael Swell, with The Squeeze and a Quandary Direct being the canyons of choice.

Some of the crew rolled in Friday night, and the rest of us very early in the A.M. on Saturday. The plan was to rise before the sun and get an early start on the dreadfully hot climb up the Moroni Slopes. Of course, on just a couple hours of sleep, none of us could get it together before the sunrise. My partners finally managed to wrangle me from the Xterra, and we headed down to the Muddy. I couldn’t believe the scene before us. The Muddy was completely bone dry. Not a drop of water in it. Barely even muddy in some places. It was the completely opposite experience I had in May, when we were battling mid-thigh current at every stream crossing.

Hiking down the Not-So-Muddy.

I called around before the trip, but couldn’t get any firsthand information on the water levels. The Goblin Valley rangers said it had been raining off and on for the last two weeks, so I took that as a very positive sign that the canyons would be full and fresh. Apparently the monsoonal storms conveniently missed the Moroni Slopes entirely, and the entire cachement behind the Muddy, because what awaited us in the canyons was absolutely disgusting. I once toured a ranch in Nebraska with 160,000 head of cattle on it. Sometimes the wind would blow the wrong direction, wafting the toxic fumes of cattle feces over the small town just a few miles away. The smell was so horrific, the town would literally shut down, because no one could stand the smell. The smell from that ranch was like fresh petunias compared to what was in the Squeeze.

Dry as a bone.
Finally, some stagnant water reflecting some nice early morning light.

We caught the full force of the sun on the approach, and the going was slower than planned. After about two hours of climbing, we reached the bowl. I wanted to contour left and find a walkdown entrance before the slot actually started. The other half of the group decided to contour right and drop in with a rappel. The group was effectively split for awhile. But this Saturday must’ve been the most popular day ever in the history of the Squeeze, because what started out as 5 or 6 separate groups, ended as a human traffic jam in the canyon bottom. I’ll be there were easily 24 people in the canyon.

Not that it really mattered. It was blistering hot outside, and perfect in the canyon. No wetsuits needed today. Water levels were super low, and water temps were probably between 50 and 70 degrees, depending on the pool. Even the walls of the canyon were fairly warm. After about an hour of downclimbing, we entered the slot, and got to the business. Game on.

The canyon is long and beautiful. Lots of arches, fun potholes, good down climbs, and interesting rappels. And best of all, it’s long. None of this two-hours-and-done nonsense. You pay the literally steep price of admission for a few hours, and then get to enjoy the show. And this show delivers for hours on end.

Chris doing the beached whale to perfection out of the first keeper.
Why not rig a tyrolean here? Not like we’re going anywhere soon.
This picture almost makes the water look pleasant. Almost.
Michelle on a little rappel into a swimmer.
Porter making the swim.
Mmmm…. That’s tasty.
Matt and Sarah, enjoying the arch after another pothole escape.
Fresh petunias I tell ya.


Another beautiful arch mid-canyon.
Michelle on the second Tyrolean traverse.

Porter staying high, staying dry.
Raver on one of the last rappels of the day.

Porter on the second stage.
Party of six, your rappel is ready.
Raver rapping again, into yet another pothole. By now, they smell a little better. Not quite dry-heave bad.
The rapping party in full effect. Michelle on the lower rap. Our new friends from Boulder are above.
Matt mans the aiders, while porter swims the pothole.
And finally, the exit rappel into a nice spring of crude oil. By now, the olfactory nerves are completely nonfunctional. Though I swear I smelled petunias down here…
Raver on the exit rap.

The Squeeze was the business. As Cody Nelson says, “the juice has to be worth the squeeze…” Apparently he was implying the canyon wasn’t worth the rough approach. But as for me, I thought the juice was refreshing, even if it smelled like poop.