Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beats Giving A Talk

I will gladly play a musical number over giving a talk any day.  Today was unique in that I had the chance to perform a musical number for Stake Conference in front of 1300 people on a beautiful ebony Steinway Concert D in the Park City Eccles Center.  A special thanks to my little sister Han for letting me steal one of her piano books for musical ideas.  My good friend Lana was sitting on the front row with her iPhone camera.  I can't believe how bald I am.  Geeze.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Neon Canyon

My first visit to the Grand Staircase Escalante was back when I was in highschool.  This was several years before it became the famous place it is now.  Back then, it was a much more peaceful place to visit.  You hardly saw any other vehicles while you drove up and down the "hole in the rock" road to the various trailheads.  Back then, you had to watch out that you didn't hit a cow head on, now days you have to be alert for "cruiseamerica" rental RV's going where they shouldn't.  I've covered a lot of turf in this part of the state but for some reason have never made it out to "Neon" canyon and it's famous "Golden Cathedral" rappel.  Luckily, a few co-workers expressed some interest so we hatched a plan. 

The view from the "Egypt" trailhead looking east towards our destination.  Warning, don't try and drive the family mini-van here.  You might find yourself trying to call AAA with no cell service.

"I think the canyon is over there somewhere","OK, sounds good, let's keep walking then and maybe we'll run into it".

Starting up the mouth of "Neon".  As long as I live, I will never find myself tired of the beautiful "stained" red rock walls of the Escalante river drainage.

Today's route requires us to climb left out of "Neon", skirt along it's rim and then drop in when we are good and ready for some serious "Michael Phelps" Olympic Style Swimming in frigid October water.

Yep, I think there is definitely a canyon below.  It's quite different to be able to look at the canyon you are about to descend.

We are now about 1/2 mile east of the "normal drop-in".  This choice will bring us more Narrows and cold swims than the "Neon sport-route".  I'm personally happy we made such a choice.

Dry as a bone.  C'mon, why did we bring our wetsuits?

Oh, that's why.  Makes sense now.  Were just getting started.

I guess this wouldn't be a good place to be hanging out in a flash flood.

This is the "business".  Starting to think maybe the dry-suit would have been a good idea.

I was having flashbacks of the "Disney Jungle Cruise" in this watery corridor.  Must have been the mushrooms I ate in the Canyon bottom.

Since these are my co-workers, this adventure was dubbed as a "teambuilding" exercise.  Meet the team.

Sometimes Canyoneering has certain body size restrictions to exit.  This would definitely be one of those places.  I have never seen a feature like this in any canyon anywhere.

Josh descending the world famous "Golden Cathedral".  I think next time we will find a way to descend the outer hole but for now I'm definitely satisfied.

They say it's a good idea to hose-off and dry all your gear after a soggy adventure.  I will therefore follow the rules.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Englestead Hollow and Orderville Canyon

After the 18 hour adventure of hiking, swimming, rappelling, route-finding, and spyder-climbing out of the deep Zion potholes of Imlay Canyon, the 6AM John B alarm came quite early.  I was surprised to find I had any energy to embark on another full day Zion exploration through Englestead Hollow and eventually out the entire length of Orderville Canyon to the exit through the Narrows.  Lionel dropped us off somewhere in what seemed like the middle-of-no-where East Zion and said his goodbyes to get home to his family.  We made our way through the thick forest down towards the wash.

Descending into the valley below was no challenge considering we were carrying 600 FT of rope.  (details on that later)

Englestead Hollow is not only famous for it's beauty as a tributary canyon to Orderville, but rather for it's world famous 300 foot rappel which any "newbie" canyoneer might find a bit intimidating.  In other words, you might not want to make Englestead your first canyoneering adventure.

Rigging 600 feet of rope requires some serious planning and therefore safety is never taken lightly.

From this perspective, you are only able to see about 1/3 of the grand Englestead 300 foot overture.

Looking down Englestead Hollow towards Orderville Canyon.  Amazing what wind and water can do!

John B on rappel literally descending into the "gut" of the earth.  This is officially the longest "rap" I have ever experienced.  There are very few 300 footers anywhere in Zion.   I have to admit it was a bit "gut wrenching" going over that first lip to a 300 foot void below.

Rap 2 was a beautifully polished "fluted" wall which you often find in Zion slot canyons.  Pinecreek has a few that are memorable. 

The canyon bottom was cool and quiet.  Good conversation along the peaceful walk.

Everyone definitely has their "unique" sort of relationship with their father-in-law.  This just happens to be mine :)

Something different around every corner.  The canyon walls were closing in which gave me the feeling that we were getting close to the confluence with Orderville Canyon.

I wonder if it's "illegal" to eat fresh raspberries in a national park?  If so, were busted now.

Here we are at the confluence of Orderville and the Narrows.  I could swear we were just here yesterday.  Wierd.  Another great canyoneering adventure checked off the list.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Zion Imlay Canyon Adventure

My sweet late Grandma was notorious for clipping things out of magazines and newspapers that reminded her of people she knew.  This little photo she clipped out of a travel magazine is one of my most prized possessions hanging in my home office.  She gave it to me sometime in college when I started to rock climb and rappel off cliffs.  I think she was trying to tell me something.  If she only knew what I was up to this weekend.  I miss you Grandma S.

Of all the technical slot canyons in Zion National Park, there are 3 that are considered the "holy trinity" by veteran canyoneers.  They are Heaps, Imlay and Kolob Creek.  These canyons have earned their respect for several reasons such as amount of time required to complete, certain advanced technical skills and overall high level of danger that can be encountered due to changing conditions related to weather and water in the canyon.  Today's adventure would start out @ 4AM in the morning hiking up the Angels Landing trail and heading west to Imlay Canyon.

The west rim trail is quite peaceful @ 4AM in the morning.  We used headlamps for a few moments heading up "Walters Wiggles" but for the most part relied on the beautiful Zion twilight.

There really is no trail to the head of "Imlay Canyon".  You basically follow your GPS and look for significant landmarks, one of which was called the "Cleaver".  This is Zion Canyon hiking at it's finest.

As you can see, there really is no trail.  The park service requires a special permit to access this canyon and only allows 1 party of a maximum of 6 people per day to enter.   Let's just say, we saw or heard no one until we reached the Zion Narrows.

The route description states "you will eventually come upon a large in your face wall.  This is the start of the technical slot canyon".  I guess we found it.

This first obstacle is known as the "log soup".  It is supposed to be really nasty when it's full of water.  We luckily hit it when it was dry.

We suited up into our "wet gear" and dropped into our first obstacle.  One of Imlay's most challenging features is it's large "pot holes".  These are large holes carved into the water course of the canyon that can be extremely difficult to climb out of during times of low water.  When they are full of water, you can generally just swim up to the edge and climb over.  

John B and Doug on the famous Imlay "tandem rappel"

This was one of the more difficult "pot holes" to climb out of.  It required the use of a "talon hook" which is basically like a rope ladder connected to a grappling hook.  Lionel and myself were a 2 man team in the front negotiating pot holes and setting up hand lines for the guys behind us.  There are many different methods for getting yourself out of potholes.  On several occasions, I was able to throw my pack over the lip of the hole until it lodged itself and I was able to climb up and over.

Doug on rappel.  One of the amazing features of this canyon is the endless green moss plastered on top of the dark sandstone.  Too bad my iPhone camera didn't do it justice.

Here I am at 13 hours into my day on the 2nd to last rappel of the canyon.  I was pretty much destroyed and ready for this adventure to end.  This was also a proud feeling knowing that we had just climbed up and over 8 or 9 slippery wet keeper potholes.

Top of the final 150 foot rap to the Zion Narrows just above Orderville Canyon. There is only 1 way out of here now.  This would prove to best one of the most epic rappels I have ever experienced.

My father-in-law rigging the final 150 footer to the bottom of the Narrows.

Now the easy part, kick into tourist mode and hike down the river to the shuttle.  Pizza and Noodle tasted mighty fine tonight.   After being awake for 16 hours, I was ready for 4 advil and a good nights sleep.  Englestead Hollow tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fakebook Arrangement

Sometimes it's fun to pull out the old Broadway fakebook. I heard this come on Pandora the other day while driving home from work and decided to spend the late evening devising my own little arrangement of this beautiful song.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Broadways New King

In celebration of Broadway's "Lion King" becoming the top grossing production of all time at $853.8 million! Yeehaw!! Take that Lloyd Weber.