The last two weeks, it seems I’ve spent every spare minute devoted to working the insane logistics of my thru-hike of the pct. With my brain starting to short circuit from all the planning, I decided it would be a good strategy to sneak off for a week for some canyons on Lake Foul. It would be an excellent chance to shakedown my final PCT gear choices one last time. What’s more, it would be a chance to share some canyons and camps with good friends before leaving all of that behind for 5 months.

As seems to be routine for me lately, I joined in on the Ram plan, the agenda this time calling for seven days of Lake Powell fare, all of which would be entirely new to me. Some canyons were known, but only two of them had been done by anyone in our group. In fact, today’s canyon may very well have never been descended.

An Exploration

The operating name for the canyon was fittingly called “Obscured By Clouds,” and the vague yet ominous name did nothing to ease my nerves. We knew only a few details… We’d have a long swim to exit, and a fairly straight forward approach. The rest? We’d soon find out.

Explorations make me very uneasy. No matter how much homework a group has done, there comes a tipping point where you pull your ropes, and leave your fate within the walls of the unknown. What is down there? Keeper potholes? High stemming? Anchor problems? I know our group is good, but it doesn’t matter. It feels a bit like playing a game of roulette. And around every corner, the canyon threatens. It narrows, drops fast, goes way off the deck, and then rounds a corner. BOOM! Keeper pothole. The place was all business. A partner assist, a sandtrap, and a fortunate anchor eventually lends us passage, and we know we’ve reached the literal point of no return.

The canyon dropped deeper and deeper, and went higher off the deck, until we were 50 feet up at one spot, with just a few inches between the walls. Yet the stemming was easy and secure, and completely beautiful. All the while, the canyon threatened to get serious, like it might serve up the impossible, but all eventually were solved fairly easily.

This exploration stuff – I learned today it’s not for me. I guess I’m just not a gamblin’ man.

And the biggest damage for the day: I smashed my toe on a downclimb in the canyon, and the nail was already bruised and black when we set up camp for the night. I drained the pressure off it, but it became quickly apparent it would have to be babied for the rest of the trip. Not the best way to start off a week of canyons.

The next six days took us into a handful of different canyon systems, and besides nursing my toe all week, it was fantastic. I took plenty of notes on every piece of gear, trying to work out all the quirks, and realized I had a few things that needed some work. I drove all afternoon Saturday to get back to Salt Lake, and will have exactly two days to get everything together before the big flight out to San Diego.

Slightly injured, but still stoked!