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Monday, October 6, 2014

Sheets Canyon is one of many slot hikes on the Notem Road side of Capital Reef. Ms Ranger at the Park Headquarters information desk said we might encounter "ankle-deep water." What she didn't say was that the mud is much deeper than the water…and slippery, too! But these unexpected events are the building blocks of Adventure, right?

Well, it depends on who you ask… and I wouldn't ask Jim just yet; till he gets over the complete submersion of his camera. :((

Wiseone's Susan and Maikel led this slot hike. They have totaled more than a month boondocking in this area and thus are elected Authorities By Ballot. Jim, Gayle, Debbie, and Bobbie and I are their "Lab Rats" for this maze. Right off the bat we seem to get lost. "How can one get lost in a slot canyon," you ask? That's a good question, and the answer depends on who you ask :))

Anyhoo, we are immediately thrust to abandon the slot and cling to the sandstone cliffs by fingernails in order to avoid wading/swimming/mud/ CREATURES OF THE DEEP!!! Frankly, I, for one, would rather be eaten by a "creature" than  fall to my death. But what do I know?

Here's an important hint/lesson in Slot Canyoneering: Muddy shoes and sandstone cliffs do not mix. The pools are pretty much full due to the recent rains, and there is enough mud to build an adobe city. We did our best, and succeeded for a while, to build stone stepping stones pathways through the mire, but one by one we all started going down, starting with Debbie. 

I decided to quit risking my life on the cliffs and plunged into the mud and water, but I was the only one wearing cheap old running shoes…as opposed to 200 dollar hiking boots. I understand the reluctance, but to lose you life over a couple hundred dollars didn't seem worth it to me. And then there was the smell of the mud. Anaerobic, putrified, stank!!! It doesn't come off easy either, FYI.

So the smarter people in the group decided to turn back, shortly after they had crossed and climbed numerous cliffs beyond return. The Stupids wished them "Good Lucks" and "Be Carefuls" and returned to wading muddy water cold enough to churn Ice Cream. You know what? Once you lose feeling in your lower extremities it's very difficult to walk where you want to go. I mean I told my legs to step over such and such rock and to the side of random muck, but do you think they would listen? Nope. It was if I was on a bender, and a miracle that no bones were broken with so many Aron Ralston opportunities.

We all made it back, tho, and these will be the stories we tell our grandkids… except for the people in the smart group, who decided the earth had enough children and worried that, in spite of genetics, what if their children turned out to be the ones in the dumb group, and thus decided not to risk the unpredictable nature of "recessive" genes, which has the additional side benefit of putting additional hundreds of thousands of dollars in their retirement accounts (sigh). 

Viva Vasectomy! 


  1. I have to say those are some pretty good pictures Mark...especially all the climbing and crab walking up and over the rocks and cliffs. I thought maybe you were exaggerating until I saw someone almost knee deep! Maybe that hike would have been better in a few weeks for some, but I agree...what great stories to tell! Hike on!

  2. Oh my goodness! I am sorry, no matter how much I like slot canyons, that does not look like fun! Great photos though! ;-)

  3. Guess you didn't take pictures of the REALLY terrible parts. Where's the list of the stupids and the smarts? I still wish I was there too.

  4. Thanks for showing us what we missed. Nah, no regrets about turning back!

  5. I was about to head for Utah, when I read this post. Now I think I should wait around for another engine overhaul. LOL!!

  6. What a shame the Gulch was wet and muddy. It is such a beautiful place. This was one of our favorites in the park. I see you got to a least one of the choked areas. There was second choke stone area that getting up and over wasn't too bad but coming back out, my legs were too short to get a foot hold coming down. I ended up sitting on John's head as he lowered me to get grip. We wished someone had been filming this interesting technique!! Our problem was the mile hike in the deep sand that almost had us turning around. Glad we didn't. Sounds like an...adventure!?

  7. I think my wife would have gone with the Smart group and I would have joined the mentally challenged group. Great pictures of the red rock and getting excited about seeing the Smart group and others during our Zion visit in early November.

  8. No one ever said adventurers were smart but where would the world be without them. I don't usually force blog reading on Wayne but the pics in this post might convince him we need to join your gang next year!

  9. I'm just playing catch-up after 12 days on the Labyrinth and Stillwater sections of the Green River. Thanks for the beautiful Fall color posts. Even reading them all at once I didn't overdose. Beautiful!!! The mud in this post looks lots more familiar - the gear never will be totally clean!

  10. Ooh, looks like a lot of muckety-muck! But those are the times you always talk about and don't forget. We once camped on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. When the tide goes out, the whole bay empties so we decided to walk out to an island. Halfway out our shoes were being sucked off by the red thick mud. We were a mess by the time we made it back. At the laundromat the next day, all the locals were laughing at our clothes and shoes and knew exactly what we had done! They never came completely clean.


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