Moab Biking and Canyoneering 
Monday, December 4, 2017, 02:36 AM - Week activities
Posted by Administrator
I had been feeling bummed I didn't get a Moab trip this fall, but then a large international work trip fell through so I got my chance. (Thanks Indian Consulate in Houston.) Jess and I went up with the camper after she got off at the hospital and overnighted by the Narraguinnep Reservoir outside of Cortez. In the morning we dodged the Pronghorn and snuck over to the Needles Overlook - a spectacular view of Canyonlands. We had the place all to ourselves since it was early on a Thursday and a little hazy that morning.

We set up in the usual spot at Grandstaff Campground and then asked around at the Negro Bill Canyon for a lift up to the top. After talking with a half dozen folks, a nice couple volunteered to shuttle us to the top so we could canyoneer Medieval Chamber. We headed down the wash from the radio tower, past the Fins and Things 4WD road, and then rapped into Medieval Chamber. It's a tight, short canyon but a super neat spot. Then you walk out to the top of Morning Glory Arch. I had always dreamed of doing a simultaneous rappel off the arch after seeing Justin and Leigh do it years ago. It was too scary for Jess (and for me) to start normally, so I muntered partway down with a 2nd rope attached to the normal anchor to a nearly free hanging position and then had Jess rap off the other side, connected to me. I think this is a nice safe way to do it for others who are more risk averse. It does take a little coordination operating two lowering systems and rope skills to pull the anchored rope while free hanging.

After hiking out of Negro Bill Canyon, we still had a little daylight so I suggested we go to Delicate Arch. The Arches NP road construction and short daylight made us give up early and we ended up at Double Arch for the beautiful cloudy sunset.

In the morning, Jess headed off on a couple hikes while I joined a big group (Briana, Josiah, Dave, Laura, Melanie, Nate, Andrew) to mountain bike Mag 7. Briana thought it would be great if I had a rainbow beard, so that happened... There was a howling West wind that helped us cruise the beginning section through Gemini Bridges, Bull Run, Arth's Corner, and Little Canyon. At that point most of the group bailed and headed back to town via Gemini Bridges Rd., but I talked David and Josiah to continue on the Gold Bar climb to Gold Bar Rim and Portal. Everyone was saying it was going to be tough (and stupid), and they weren't kidding. The climb was mostly doable but very punchy. Then at the top the riding becomes extra difficult. I was say the three of us pushed it pretty hard, but still ended up walking about 50% of the drops. The storms and nightfall were rolling in on us at this point, so it was particularly annoying that I burped my rear tire and then rolled it off the rim in back-to-back technical sections. I couldn't re-seat it with a CO2 so I had to throw in a tube. It worked. We slowly picked our way down Portal as it traverses a massive cliff-face. The pucker factor is high, and the skill-level to ride this stretch is equally extraordinary. Hikers, asked how many of us we started with and we responded, "8 riders, but only 3 survived this far." Then Josiah piped in that David's full-face helmet was so he could have an open-casket funeral. David, Joe, and I rounded the point, ripped much of the bottom section (except the switchbacks and narrow slots), and cruised out to the road right at sunset. We were all fully stoked at our accomplishment! That lasted about 10 minutes until we had to fight a 30+ mph headwind home in a driving rainstorm to Grandstaff Campground. Once we arrived everyone had packed up and left for a VRBO, so we piled in the camper, passed out food, beers, and cooked some stew for bonky Dave. Mission accomplished.

The next morning, Jess and I decided to do another canyon in Arches while the rest of the group went climbing. We did Big Horn Canyon on a cold but clear morning. The tunnel was fun and the wondering around on the plateau is just neat. Jess got the hang of overhanging abseiling and somehow I rope-burned the back of my neck trying to manage 170m of ropes on the first rappel; but otherwise the canyon was straightforward.

It was the weekend before Thanksgiving, so I wanted to go out to GGBY. I hadn't seen it before, but I was interested in the rigging and hoped I might be able to go out onto the spacenet. It's a drive to get out to the Fruit Bowl, but we arrived on quite a scene. Everyone was packing in gear for the week-long party. A few of the shorter slacklines were bring strung up and the longer ones were being rigged - apparently the poor weather had slowed their progress. Sketchy Andy and a collection of eccentric individuals were coordinating the work. It's definitely a neat location and looked like loads of fun. This year was different because the base jumping wasn't allowed and there was more regulations, but I think the spirit will certainly live on. Hopefully I can get out on the spacenet sometime in next few years.

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