August 2017 included a landmark trip to Zion National Park. I don’t like Zion, but this trip was a good start at making me change my mind. It was my first wet canyon experience.
The beautiful Pine Creek Canyon was life changing.
But before we get to actual canyon talk, I need to share about our camping experience. Friday night we camped on BLM land and got to enjoy the sounds of coyotes. A lot of them. When I say a lot of them, at one point in the middle of the night we woke up what sounded like at least 10 coyotes howling from every direction. It felt like we were surrounded at very close range. In reality I’m sure they weren’t that close, but it sure sounded incredible (and also a little terrifying). That along with absolutely incredible star gazing made for a unique night.
As far as Saturday is concerned, really all that you need to know is that I started my period that morning. And it was bad. The kind of bad where I had to seriously think about not doing the canyon. My body was waging war against itself and that isn’t an exaggeration.
I woke up at our lovely dispersed camping site (man, I love free camping) ready to throw up a lot. I pounded Pepto Bismol and Ibuprofen. I ate no more than 3 bites of my favorite dehydrated breakfast. The medicine kicked in and I told Peter we better get going while I still felt good. I knew once I was in the canyon the adrenaline would keep me going, along with the meds, and I’d be fine. (I say I knew this, but really I just hoped for it).
On a side note, sometimes it’s really hard to be the only woman in a group of men on this sort of trip. For one thing, I’m naturally shorter and weaker. (Though all the bouldering certainly helps the strength thing!) Combine that with a body that’s actively working against you… It makes for a hard day.
A few women had bailed on the trip for various reasons. And there’s simply something different about a trip with at least a few women, and it’s even more pronounced when an outdoor trip is all women. Women communicate differently and work together differently, and it’s not necessarily better. It’s just different.
But it still turned into a great day. It was hot as hell outside of the canyon, around 100 degrees. But in the canyon away from the sun and fully submerged in cold water, it felt great. The wet suit was much needed and honestly so fun to wear. My body didn’t hate me too much, and for that I was so grateful.
My brand new Salewa approach shoes were fantastic. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a good canyon shoe. Peter has since purchased the same ones.
The worst part of the canyon was the hike out. Damn, that was a hard scramble/hike. We were in the heat for really the first time that day. It was over a mile of scrambling down rocks, and then came a pretty steep uphill climb to our cars. At that point I had been bouldering regularly for about 3 months, and that definitely helped. I felt more sure footed and I trusted my body more than I ever had. But I was also fighting against my body internally and getting back in the heat seemed to trigger that again.
Throw in how hard it is for me to do cardio (no thanks to exercise induced asthma), I was done.
All in all, not a bad trip. Quite the opposite, actually.