Monthly Archives: April 2014
Arizona wet canyons are a blast! Brian and I just returned from a great canyoneering fest near Globe, Arizona. The canyons were flowing and offered great opportunities for sliding and swimming. The highlights of our trip were descending a fantastic new waterfall canyon called S’mores and going “Scubaneering” in The Jug with Jason of www.inthecanyons.com. A local canyoneering guide, Jason is interested in scuba diving for lost treasure in a technical canyon he regularly takes clients through, the Jug of Salome Creek. This is just a casual canyon romp with friends, but Jason can’t seem to help himself. He’s acting as our guide, pointing out the medicinal and edible plants on the trail, giving us the “safety talk”, and generally making an easy canyon even easier with his intimate knowledge of every pool, slide, and downclimb.
There are at least two appealing jumps into deep pools in The Jug. Where there are jumping canyoneers with things strapped onto them, there is canyon booty to be collected after the water yanks these things loose upon impact. Jason optimistically sports a large “lobster bag”, a mesh and canvas bag to collect the canyon booty from the bottom of the pool as he dives. He has found waterproof cameras, helmets, sunglasses and canyoneering gear at this spot in the past. He carries an extremely heavy pack with both scuba and canyoneering gear, including tanks. He needs a new waterproof camera and this is his version of “shopping”. It’s a lot more fun than the mall, and definitely cheaper!
The hike into the canyon is on an easy trail punctuated with tall, proud Saguaro cacti. After a couple miles the canyon begins to poke its jagged pink edges up like crooked teeth, breaking up the scruffy green desert and appearing very alien against the prickly hills and valleys around it. Saguaro cacti line the rim of the canyon, and occasionally grow right out of the cracks in the canyon walls.
“Welcome to my office”, says Jason with a flourish, referring to the tall, pink granite walls around us.
We put on wetsuits next to the rushing stream, then start walking and swimming in the canyon. Just a couple minutes downstream Jason spots a small snake with a frog in its mouth. Many tiny creatures love the crystal clear, flowing water in this canyon. Today we share the canyon with fish, frogs, large spiders, lizards, dragonflies, butterflies and beetles.
Many of the Arizona canyons have wonderful sculpted rock waterslides, and soon we find an amazing slide against the left wall of the canyon. It drops about 15 feet and right in the middle we shoot through a small waterfall before plunging into the pool below. There is a “girl scout start” where we enter the rock chute with a bit less sliding and an “eagle scout start” where we slide the entire 15 feet, shooting through the waterfall with a splash in the middle. This is great fun and we all shoot down the chute and then climb back up behind the waterfall to giggle and slide again and again.
This canyon has one mandatory 40 foot drop where we can either rappel a waterfall in a narrow slot, rappel down a rock wall or jump into a deep, green pool. I choose to rappel the waterfall in the narrow slot and Brian chooses to jump 40 feet into the deep pool below. Jason jumps with his dive gear and prepares to scuba dive the pool at the bottom as we all make our way down. Jason prepares for the dive, using rocks and carabiners as weights. He descends below the surface until he’s just a small shadow near the bottom sending up a stream of white bubbles. He later tells us his depth meter showed the pool was 40 feet deep.
Jason spends about 30 minutes in the water with his big lobster bag in two different pools. He collects a working Petzl Tikka plus headlamp, a pair of sunglasses, a rappel device and some carabiners, and even a long snake handling stick. He had hoped for a waterproof camera but instead the canyon gave him a snake handling stick. That evening we used his new stick to toast marshmallows around the fire.
The Jug is a fantastic, scenic canyon and I can’t wait to do it again! I really enjoyed the clear, flowing water and the chance to witness some “Scubaneering”, yet another sport I could easily be talked into.