So far, so good. Joey and Sean descend into the White Canyon near Hite crossing, Utah, upstream of the swimming slots known as “The Black Hole.”
The Black Hole. It sounds scary, right? Well, if claustrophobia, freezing cold water and flash floods get you nervous then this slot canyon run probably isn’t best for you. But if you’ve got a good wetsuit, booties and a perfect weather forecast then a day in the Black Hole of Utah’s White Canyon might actually be fun.
The pics tell the story best. There’s a lot of them.
It’s standard canyon hiking, at least in the beginning.
Quite the highwater mark. What was the weather forecast again?
The first steps are always the coldest.
“Hey Joey, you’re tallest, why don’t you go first.”
Getting past the over-the-waist threshold is a doozy.
Next benchmark, chest high.
It’s a little deeper on Sean(and I), why don’t we have wetsuits on? The water’s about 45 degrees.
With wetsuits and booties on, and everything else stowed in drybags in our packs, we were ready.
I put this one in for Christy, she loves the frogs.
Doh! Good thing the water level isn’t any higher. What was the weather forecast again?
By now, chest deep was no big deal, we were soaked through and began to wonder how far along we were. The slot is described as having three distinct swimming sections. We couldn’t help wonder if we were through any of them.
Even in a 3mm wetsuit it becomes shivering cold in the shade. Like a reptile Joey caught any break he could on a sunny rock.
Moving along, through another section of narrows. Any rain up valley anywhere comes flushing through here and is usually unsurvivable so perfect weather is an absolute must.
And Sean’s in again, it got too deep for walking just ahead and we figured it had to be one of the swimming sections.
Really? Oh come on. How deep was it Sean?
Deep. This room was pretty claustrophobic and without contact with the ground it was the first real swimming section. At 100+ yards long, with booties and sneakers and a backpack the swimming is clumsy, we didn’t need to acknowledge it but we all knew this was a dangerous place to hang out and a really bad place for anything to go wrong.
It just kept on coming. The White Canyon seems to run for 50 miles or so up stream, and a T-storm even the day before way up high in a side canyon could take that long to arrive here now. Even though it was bluebird yesterday(and today) we didn’t dilly-dally.
Finally we could walk, now if only we could get in the sun and warm up for a minute.
Not so fast. We’re in it again. Kind of a tight one here.
Can you see Joey’s teeth chattering?
No caption needed.
Canyon light can be tough to get exposure right. Overexposed/underexposed, add to it swimming and drybags and it’s tough shooting. I carried my G11 in a small pelican case on my chest but couldn’t pull it out for most of the swimming, unless I could find a small perch to stand on. I think I was lucky to get what I did here without wrecking the camera in the water.
So, are we through the swimming yet? We seemed to have passed at least three mandatory swims, the number we were told to expect.
Did I foreshadowed enough? I can’t remember if we were still having fun or not at this point.
Test it out Sean.
This has some depth potential. Sean, you go first.
But we were done, with the swimming that is. After another hour or two on dry ground with intermittent waist deep sections we were finally stripping down out of our wetsuits. And after locating the exit, it was three or four pretty committing rock climbing cruxes to get up and out of the canyon. Once out, we headed cross country towards the car we shuttled in the morning, two miles down the road from where we parked at the beginning the hike, 6 hours earlier.
Back at the trail head, Sean offers a familiar face after reading an old sign from the days when the slots were filled with wood and tree debris from flash floods. The conditions are better these days and the sign should come down. I guess that’s a job for someone else but while it’s up it makes for a good final shot.
Good times. Thanks for the wetsuit, Fletch. I’m not sure how I fit in it but I did and it worked great.