Thursday, July 21, 2016

Zion Pine Creek Canyoneering Adventure

"Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt

subterranean water-filled wonderland
Pine Creek Canyon in Zion National Park has been on my list of NEED TO DO adventures for a while. The hike has multiple rappels through a water-filled slot canyon, ending with a 100 ft rappel finale pretty much right under the famous Zion-Mount Caramel Tunnel on the east side of the national park.

Just finished the last rappel and still can't believe the beauty I just saw!
Steve and I were stay-cationing in Kanab for two weeks while the kiddos were back east, being spoiled by their grandparents in PA. We managed to accomplish a whole lot of "new house" work, plus hike a few small adventures in our town, but we wanted something BIG to end our week.

While up in Salt Lake to wish our friends CONGRATS on their wedding, we ran into our friend, Nick, who lives in Kanab (and is maybe the most extreme adventurer I know). PERFECT! (Nick also owns a tour company in Kanab called Seldom Seen Adventures. If you ever come to Kanab and want to explore really remote, off-the map canyons and sites, call him up!)

We asked Nick if he'd tag along with us to Zion and he was game. YES! Now I had a pro along so my fears had subsided a whole lot. :)

Here's Nick actin' like ain't no thing
You need a backcountry permit to hike Pine Creek. You can easily obtain a permit the day before your hike at the Zion Visitor Center. Steve and I picked up the permits, borrowed a bunch of gear from our friend, Megan (wetsuits -- A MUST --- even in the 100 degree summer. You WILL freeze. Thank you, Megan!!), and went home to mentally prepare for the next day. I was so excited!!

At the trailhead (which is right next to the east entrance of the tunnel by the canyon overlook trail) we suited up and started down the trail. There was a large group ahead of us and so we were prepared to wait a pretty long time to get down the first rap. It was so unbelievably beautiful that I don't think anyone minded the wait.

Ready to go
My nerves were really ramping up as I stood there waiting. Finally it was our turn. My heart was beating so fast. This wasn't my first time rappelling, but it had been a while and I was really nervous. There's something just a wee bit intimidating about backing off a huge ledge with just a rope and a prayer :)

First rappel. Not so bad :)
The second rappel would be a little more "complicated". It involved going down one small drop, and then up a little log jam and then around a corner and over into "the cathedral" (freaking amazing)

Steve makin' it look easy
I loved loved loved this section. As you descend into the cathedral, you're treated to a double arch inside this pretty chamber. The finale of this rap is jumping into deep, freezing cold and smelly water. It was pretty awesome! And chilly.

Maybe my favorite part was navigating the next few narrow, spooky and dimly lit passageways. These hallways were filled with water, and the overhead sunlight that came poking through the rocks above made for some bad ass photos!

I love my adventure buddy

Just awesome!

navigating weird, wild and beautiful hallways

Stepping into the light

back on dry land

Artsy fartsy

Spider man!

WILD! I need to hang this on my wall!
Finally we were back in the sunlight! We had 2 final rappels. We took off our wet suits and soaked up the sunshine for a couple of minutes. Laying on rocks and surveying the breathtaking landscape in front of us -- Zion National Park --- I almost can't take the beauty of Utah. I love you, Utah!!

Ready for the last drop of with my hubs
The last rappel was nearly 100 ft. and I was really nervous. Not only was it the longest rappel of my life, and a free rappel (meaning, your feet are not going to be touching anything. You are just dropping into a wonderful, colorful and surreal oasis.) As I scooted off the edge of the cliff, my heart was beating out of my body. I started to lower myself down and the walls dropped away and I was dangling in the middle of the most beautiful slot canyon I've ever seen. 360 degree views -- dark and spooky looking one way, zion landscape in the other direction, and an emerald pool below. Almost too much to take in. My fears completely subsided and I just enjoyed this amazing opportunity.

See me droppin' down in the middle there :)

fun!


Here's a few more pics from the rest of the hike, which consisted of about a mile of boulder hopping, cannonballs into deep pools, frogs, and arches!






Over the last 11 years I've been on a lot of adventures. Pine Creek in Zion National Park might just be my favorite so far. I can't wait to go back!

Go get it!

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