Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Canyoneering: Egypt III

Jim Akers, descending into "the bowels of the Navajo sandstone" in Egypt 3.
(click images to view larger)

The road to Egypt is rough, and it crosses strange sections of fine salty powder that rises high into the air as you drive through them, even on windless days, and coats your car with white dust.  Along the way to the Egypt trailhead (for Fence Canyon) it skirts the heads of at least four slot canyons—Egypt 1 through Egypt 4, with the 4th being the most gnarly (rated X for long exposed stemming sections).  We’d chosen Egypt 3 as the warm-up canyon for our spring trip and left our camp near the Hole in the Rock Road early.  Tom’sCanyoneering Guide describes Egypt 3 like this:
“Hast thou a large thirst for slot canyons?  Here you go.  Miles of slots.  Long sections requiring sideways shuffling.  A journey of wonder through the bowels of the Navajo sandstone.  Bring a rope and a harness, and you can finish with a short rappel into a pothole and a quick wade or swim.”
Egypt was indeed a great warm up—not too hard, but beautiful, with a few tight spots and very little water in this dry year, except for one wet pothole and a fetid cesspool at the very end, which we all waded through, stinking up our already stinky shoes.  The crux of the day was probably the walk back to the car in the hot sun, across a few miles of slickrock.  A great day all in all.  Highly recommended unless you have a "large frame."

Looking into a fork of Egypt3 along the short approach.

The gang looking down into the Egypt3 drainage.  Our goal is the long slot at the bottom.

Larry Scritchfield enjoying some optional stemming early in the canyon.

Larry descending deeper into Egypt 3.

Jim Akers climbing out of a shallow pothole.

Working through easy slots.  

The wet way through a water-filled pothole.  Jerry Scritchfield and Jane Addis go for the wade.

Larry pioneering the dry technical way around the pothole.

Don Reyes testing a higher path.

Jim Akers--more narrow canyon.

Nice little rattlesnake in the narrow canyon.  

Mike Reyes near the end of the canyon.

Mike and Don Reyes, hiking across slickrock on the long hot walk back to the cars.

Routefinding along the canyon on the return to the cars.

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