Canyoneering….What is it? Most people haven’t a clue, so instead of boring you with a Wikipedia definition, I would like to invite you to participate in one of KOLIfit’s Canyoneering workouts. It is a word that is defined and redefined with experience.
This mysterious outdoor adventure is one of the most amazing outdoor experiences. People from all around the world come to Utah to experience a slot canyon, and it amazes me how many people that live in Utah have not hiked one of these canyons. Most of us have seen pictures of the beautiful sunlight illuminating the bright orange sandstone walls, ironically taken to encourage us to connect with the outdoors.
Canyoneering has intrigued me since my youth. My first canyoneering experience was hiking through the Narrows in Zion National Park when I was 16 years old. I remember this trip vividly because my father let me drive he and his friends the whole 5 hours. My aging years have enlightened me on who benefited from this most.
The Narrows is a 16 mile hike through a relatively easy slot canyon. Our group decided to make it a two day trip by camping at the halfway mark. We were an experienced group of outdoorsmen and thought we would save energy by packing light with a small wool blanket, water bottle, water filter, backpacking stove, and a minimal amount of dehydrated food. I think that was the only time in my life that I voluntarily cuddled up to my dad. SLEEPING (if you want to call it that) WAS SO COLD! I was grateful to see the sunrise in the distant sky so we could start hiking again. Moving would be the only way to keep warm. The warmth of the sun only lasts a brief moment in a narrow canyon. It was hours later before I stopped shaking and I could feel my feet again, but this discomfort did not ruin my experience. Hiking the Narrows was one of my first true connections to nature. The red rock desert is a hallowed place. I understand why people go to the desert to seek refuge and to have spiritual experiences. Something I cherish with my outdoor experiences.
If I had to rate canyoneering on a Aaron Ogden Bucket List scale of 1 through 10, I would rate it at a 9.5. Canyoneering is nature’s playground that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities. It has so many satisfying moments. I have strolled up Lake Powell canyons barefoot in luminescent sand, and I have also stemmed and bridged across crevasse like walls shaking from fear thinking “HOLY @#$% what have I gotten myself into?” Slot canyons have some of the most beautiful unique features the world has to offer. Expedition conversations naturally gravitate toward theories of how canyons were created, or “how that rock got there,” or the power of water. Every canyoneering experience is unique, even if you return to a canyon for a second time. I remember hiking Chop Rock Canyon for my first time, lots of down climbs, stemming, bridging, and squeezing through narrow cracks that shred my clothes to bare skin. Several years later I went back to Chop Rock after a rainy spring and we almost swam the entire canyon.
I treasure the skills and wisdom I have gained from canyoneering such as, practice your knots in. The great white shark of canyoneering is flash floods. Before every canyon there is a thorough checklist to ensure a safe adventure. I remember doing my homework before taking a youth group down Granary Canyon in Moab. The weather reported a slight chance of thunderstorms around noon. So we decided to hike half of the canyon and exit before the expected afternoon showers. As we exited the canyon we could see off in the distance dark ominous clouds beginning to accumulate. As we reached the cars it began to rain. As we reached the main road it began to downpour with hail and cracks of lightning and thunder. A great respect for flash floods was developed by the boys that day. It was amazing, hundreds of waterfalls, torrent rivers raging with debris, and a deep sigh of relief that we stuck to our plan.
I chuckle at amazement of tourists as I watch them react to the towering red rock walls of Zion. Sometimes I have this desire to go up to them and let them know that this is only the tip of the iceberg of the park and to really experience Zion they need to go hike a slot canyon. But, it greats to see people have the same desire I have and that is to connect to something that is so awe-inspiring.
KOLIfit invites you to join us on our next adventure. Go to KOLIfit.com for more information.