Yesterday, the Livingston and Thatcher families had an amazing canyoneering adventure in Yankee Doodle slot canyon in Dixie National Forest. The canyon is part of Yankee Doodle Hollow, and just outside Zion National Park north of St. George, Utah.
The kids have done some indoor rock climbing, I have some outdoor rock climbing experience (though it had been years since I last did it), and Debbie has some experience too. She did the NOLS Southwest Outdoor Educator: Backpacking and Rock Climbing program in 2001.
It was a beautiful day. The temperature above the rim was in the low-60’s Fahrenheit and there was intermittent sun and clouds. Naturally, it was colder in the slot canyon. It was much wetter than normal, thanks several preceding days of thunderstorms and rain showers. The extra water meant more “swimming” for the adults. The same rain that affected the Zion 100 ultra marathon, is what left Yankee Doodle wet and wild.
The first rappel into the canyon was beautiful. We all wish it was longer, but at 100 feet, it was a great introduction. We had half a dozen other short rappels over large rocks and overhangs. Several of the wetter spots required some ingenuity to keep the kids as dry as possible, especially in the early part of the trip. We were in the canyon for more than five hours, which is more than double the time it takes in dry conditions, without beginners, and without a six and nine-year old. One of the last “problems” to solve, couldn’t be done dry, without taking more time. So, we all ended up getting wet by the end of our time in the slot.
I kept my camera gear dry by using too dry bags inside my pack. Everything else got wet, muddy, and sandy. That’s the way it is in the bottom of a slot canyon. We could have had better shoes. Debbie and I used our running shoes and they weren’t the best for the task, but they got us through the trip just fine.
The Thatcher’s were super patient and everyone was excited about the “problem solving” required to navigate the canyon safely and smartly. We emerged from the canyon around 3:00 P.M. after a short climb up a moderately steep wall. We were all very happy to have full sunlight shining on us because the water at the bottom was very cold.
The drive out of Dixie to St. George was spectacular with amazing views of Pine Valley Mountain, the national forest, Zion National Park, and a host of other incredible Utah mountains and mesas. It was almost too much to soak in as we wound our way back down towards the city. Utah has some amazing countryside.