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USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon


Postby ndhudson » Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:20 pm

Date walked: 06/08/2011

Time taken: 5

Distance: 3.54 km

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Gale and I have been venturing into the world of Canyoneering lately. This trip report covers one of three spectacular technical slot canyons that we hiked a couple weeks ago. They are not very long hikes, but they can be challenging and do take some time. One of Gale's trusted climbing partners, Dave, and his family joined us on this adventure.

I'll start with the technical specs and then move on to the photos:

Pine Creek Canyon is rated 3B II using the Canyon Rating System. Zion back country permits are necessary to enter Pine Creek Canyon. Complete technical gear including one 60 meter rope (or two 50-meter ropes) are needed, but no bolt kit is necessary as there are plenty of natural, easy to spot anchors at every rappel. We brought 50 feet of extra webbing, several slings and a couple of rappel rings. Navigating this canyon is as straight forward as it gets...getting lost is virtually impossible. There is a serious flash flood danger within this canyon, so checking weather reports before setting out is paramount. :shock:

Pine Creek is a narrow and very dramatic technical slot canyon within Zion National Park in Southern Utah. The entrance to the canyon is just off of the main highway that runs through Zion. In fact, the entire canyon runs parallel to the long tunnel that the Zion highway runs through. Towards the end of the slot area you can see one of 4 or 5 windows that are cut into the mountain that the tunnel runs through. The hike out, after the slot area, is rugged and involves a lot of boulder hopping, scrambling and wading while following the creek about a mile or so to where it meets back up with the switchbacks of the Zion highway.

There are five rappels, the highest of which is about 100 ft, a number of rocky technical descents, several cold swims through fairly deep pools and about one mile of wading through more shallow pools of water. This canyon gets very deep and narrow in places and without much light finding its way to the bottom, the water can be very cold. We opted to wear wet suits and were still a bit chilly. Note: the outside temp in full sun that day was 101º F...that's the desert for ya...hot as hell in some places, cold as hell in others!!! :crazy:

The most notable rappels are the 3rd and 5th rappel. The 3rd is about 45 feet high and deposits you in a large cavern known as the "Cathedral". The water was moderately high when we visited, so this rappel was straight into a very cold deep pool (couldn't touch the bottom). The Cathedral is one of the more incredible places to be found in any slot canyon and is very photogenic. Unfortunately it takes a much better camera than I have to really capture the grandeur of this area. My photos were not so good...but I shall post them anyway. :( The Cathedral is followed by a very deep dark section of narrows. The remainder of the narrows are an enjoyable mix of down climbing, scrambling, wading and swimming.

The 6th and final rappel is gorgeous!! The drop is about 100-foot free hanging rappel, which is a little scary but so very worth it to hang amongst so much beauty. At the bottom of the rappel, a trickling spring seeps out of the massive rock face and creates the creek that you end up following to finish the hike out.

The lighting all throughout the canyon creates a mystical and sometimes eerie setting in the bowels of the canyon. Like so many other slot canyons, you can't help feel like a bit of a trespasser. Or at the very least, very lucky to have been "allowed passage" through an area that most people never see. It's grand!!! 8) 8) 8)

Now that I have surely rambled on for far too long, here are some pics...they aren't great, but hopefully they communicate a wee bit of beauty. ;)

PineCreek_1.jpg
Dropping down into the canyon from just off the Zion Highway


PineCreek_3.jpg
Looking back towards the entrance


PineCreek_4.jpg
Ready for some fun!!!


PineCreek_5.jpg
First rappel is a 2 stage rappel - only the first stage is visible here


PineCreek_6.jpg
Gale at the bottom of the second stage of the first rappel - on fireman's belay


PineCreek_7.jpg
A very large tree that had fallen into the canyon


PineCreek_8.jpg


PineCreek_10.jpg
Gale on fireman's belay again, near the "Cathedral".


PineCreek_11.jpg
Looking up through the Cathedral


PineCreek_13.jpg
The next rappel...#3 I think


PineCreek_14.jpg


PineCreek_15.jpg


PineCreek_16.jpg
A small area where the canyon opens up a little


PineCreek_17.jpg
Gale boulder hopping


PineCreek_18.jpg
Looking up towards the sky...house size boulders that have fallen from the cliff face above and gotten stuck in the narrow slot opening of the canyon


A little more than halfway through, the canyon opens up quite a bit and gets much warmer. This was a great spot to change out of our wetsuits and have some lunch. Just two rappels left... :(

PineCreek_19.jpg
Here is where you can see a window in the cliff...inside that window is the Zion highway tunnel


PineCreek_20.jpg
Looking down from the top of the 4th rappel


PineCreek_21.jpg
Gale coming down the 4th rappel


PineCreek_22.jpg
Gale & Dave setting up the last and tallest rappel while I am enjoying the amazing views across Zion


PineCreek_23.jpg
Looking up through the last rappel. Gorgeous!!!


PineCreek_24.jpg
Dave's youngest daughter (age 12) half way down the last rappel.


PineCreek_25.jpg
Looking back the way we came towards the same window in the cliff


PineCreek_26.jpg
End of the walk out


PineCreek_27.jpg
From the parking lot, Weeping Rock. The hike out follows the creek at the bottom of this arch.



And that's all for this one, folks! :D
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby MarilynMunro » Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:22 pm

My first thought was one word - stunning, but when I look back at your photos, the expletives start rolling, that just looks and must have been absolutely @*&%$ ........ fantastic. So far removed from bagging a few hills, you are both so lucky to have that playground in your backyard
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby HighlandSC » Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:47 pm

Indeed, what a playground to have :) Love it. Must find some canyons when I get to the US 8)
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby ChrisW » Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:21 pm

This is another absolute beauty ND, what a fantastic way to spend a hot summer day in the shade of a stunning slot canyon. As you will probably have come to expect, I paid a vist to Zion myself :roll: but never ventured into any slots. I was still injured then and recovering by wandering the small bumps around the park on good firm sandstone where slipping was never an option.

My wife an I talked about Utah just yesterday and how we would be heading there next year (once settled in Canada)...we can hardly wait :D

Please keep your reports coming, they add a great dimension to the site and (from a personal perspective) remind me of a fantastic time in my life that I hope to revisit very soon :D

Don't beat yourself up about the pics, its really hard to get good shots of slots and yours a great :D I took mine from an altogether easier location!

Image
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby Alastair S » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:27 pm

Looks amazing & not a little scary. Fabulous stuff :D
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby ndhudson » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:43 pm

MarilynMunro wrote:My first thought was one word - stunning, but when I look back at your photos, the expletives start rolling, that just looks and must have been absolutely @*&%$ ........ fantastic.


:lol: :lol: :lol: The expletives were flowing the whole day! :D

HighlandSC wrote:Indeed, what a playground to have :) Love it. Must find some canyons when I get to the US 8)



You must! Lemme know if you need a guide.


ChrisW wrote:My wife an I talked about Utah just yesterday and how we would be heading there next year (once settled in Canada)...we can hardly wait :D

Please keep your reports coming, they add a great dimension to the site and (from a personal perspective) remind me of a fantastic time in my life that I hope to revisit very soon :D

Don't beat yourself up about the pics, its really hard to get good shots of slots and yours a great :D I took mine from an altogether easier location!

Image


Thanks all around, Chris! And yet another great pic! You are pretty lucky to have the traveling opportunities that you have had. I am quite envious. I'm curious what kind of work you do? When you finally do make it back to Utah, you and your wife are welcome with us anytime, just holler! Your next visit to Zion simply MUST be more than a road side stroll!


Alastair S wrote:Looks amazing & not a little scary. Fabulous stuff :D


Thanks, Alastair!!!
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby ChrisW » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:48 pm

Thanks all around, Chris! And yet another great pic! You are pretty lucky to have the traveling opportunities that you have had. I am quite envious. I'm curious what kind of work you do? When you finally do make it back to Utah, you and your wife are welcome with us anytime, just holler! Your next visit to Zion simply MUST be more than a road side stroll!


I do very little now :D I retired in 2007, now I just do a little consultancy work once in a while when the offer is to good to refuse :wink: - now the legs are repaired I want to get back to Utah and do it justice, when we head that way I'll holler and see where you're at, we could have a walkhighlands meet up in Utah :D
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby HighlandSC » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:05 pm

ChrisW wrote:we could have a walkhighlands meet up in Utah :D

Now there's a plan!!! In reality, unlikely we'd make it, but you never know......... :D
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby neilmci » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:20 am

Aliens spotted in Photo no 4!!
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby ndhudson » Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:54 pm

neilmci wrote:Aliens spotted in Photo no 4!!


:lol: :lol: :lol: little green men...
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby pollyh33 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:22 pm

Way too much sensory overload with your photos Nicole :shock:

I just can't imagine what it must be like to take part in anything on such a grand scale!!!

Please please take care, but do keep posting your reports :lol:
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby ndhudson » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:37 pm

pollyh33 wrote:Way too much sensory overload with your photos Nicole :shock:

I just can't imagine what it must be like to take part in anything on such a grand scale!!!

Please please take care, but do keep posting your reports :lol:


Big thanks polly...safety first, as always!!! :D
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby morag1 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:49 pm

Been meaning to reply to this for a while Nicole :)

Absolutely out of this world, you and Gale go in for BIG days out dont you :thumbup:

Great pics of an amazing place

morag x
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby ndhudson » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:06 am

morag1 wrote:Been meaning to reply to this for a while Nicole :)
Absolutely out of this world, you and Gale go in for BIG days out dont you :thumbup:
Great pics of an amazing place


Hi Morag! :wave: We occasionally have our not-so-extreme moments.It's kind of a man thing...Gale would have it much much more extreme if it was up to him...of course, it is not! ;) :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: USA-Zion National Park-Pine Creek Slot Canyon

Postby AndrewP » Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:24 pm

Wow! What a pretty canyoning trip. Took me back a long time.
It's a great and exhilarating sport (when the water's not too high... otherwise it's a fatal sport).
That Pine Creek Slot Canyon is a beautiful setting.
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