Before my friend Kyle suggested we do a canyoneering trip in Zion National Park, the idea of canyoneering had never popped in my head.
On getting to Zion, we did some poking around the most popular spots: Angles Landing and The Narrows. Both were spectacular: but I grew more and more anxious to escape the disney-landish crowds and doing something a little more rugged.
Pine Creek Canyon was just that. We Packed up the essentials: Harnesses, Ropes, Belay devices, and Dry bags, and drove to the trailhead. The start seemed like a gully, but we quickly got to a slit in the the ground and had to rope up for our first rappel. It was clear why they called these "Slot Canyons". It looked like you could jump over the canyon and not think twice about it.
Anchors were already set so Kyle set up the rappel. The frist rappel was pretty short, maybe 15', into a pool of water. Matt went first, no problem. Than it was my turn. Never having to rappel off an overhanging ledge, I found this a little more tricky and clumsily lost my balance: ending up hanging up side down, my leg pinned to the ledge by the rope. I knew I couldn't let go of the rope or I'd fall, upside-down, into the shallow pool so kyle helped get me un-tangled and I successfully rappelled down into the pool. I was more careful for the rest of the rappels.
Many of the rappels were spectacular: Lit into deep yellow and reds by the sun far above, the bottom of the canyon was a nice cool break from the summer heat of zion. Some parts of the canyon were so so narrow that we had to squeeze through one at a time. Other's were huge, and were named to match: such as "The Cathedral"
The whole hike consisted of 6 Rappels, the highest of which was a gut wrenching 100 feet. Because our rope was 60 m, it was a little unnerving to come to the end of the rope right as you get to the bottom, but we all did just fine. At its end, the canyon widen's out into a boulder filled gully. It made for a pretty leisurely hike out to the road, where Kyle hitched a ride back to our car. For detailed info on planning a trip to pine creek canyon (or other canyons in Zion), I'd recommend visiting Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide or Climb-Utah.com. Remember to plan a trip who has some experience with ropes and setting anchors, and to have fun. All and all, Pine creek was a great half day trip that has left me Longing for more canyoneering adventures!