Friday, November 18, 2016

Guest Post: Rappelling into Canyons a.k.a. Canyoneering

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Today's Guest Post is brought to you by Dawn Giffith of Utah Bucket Adventures! Dawn has been canyoneering for years. Here, she tells us what its like to explore and go on adventures through her eyes.
Rappelling into Canyons aka Canyoneering
By Dawn Griffith

There is nothing on this earth that compares to bright, red rock, in the heat of the desert sun. It has a brightness to it that is hard to describe and yet, our eyes take it in feeling joy with every fragment of light.
On my first journey into a canyon, I had the curiosity most people do around canyon. What is down there? What's over there or up there? With every turn of the sandstone, there is another version of beauty and another challenge presented. I stood at the top of my first rappel with which was approximately 80+ feet below, and felt fear that I had not felt before. 
Your eyes tell you to go ahead and let's do this, while your mind is telling you, "We shouldn't be up here hanging on this rope." It is an interesting feeling as adrenaline and excitement flood your body, and somehow, you push through the fear of hanging on a rope 80 feet in the air with the rope in your hands. 
If you take a minute to look around, you feel a calming feeling overcome you and suddenly you feel what one would call "safe", and another would call "alive". 
Your breathing slows down back to normal, and nothing short of pure delight overtakes you while you experience walking down the side of a wall on an 8mm rope. It is sheer excitement, and once your feet touch the group, you want another, just like a child who ate their favorite piece of candy. You separate from your belay device from the rope where it is attached, and you anticipate the next one, and the next one after that knowing each one will hold something new and exciting for you to experience. 
Rappelling happens in both climbing and canyoneering, and they are both very different. I prefer canyoneering as the hike up and into a canyon is far more challenging that the actual repair itself. That part is the gift of canyoneering; it is the reward for the hard hike or climb you did to get to this rappel. 
All rappels are different from each other, which keeps the excitement of canyoneering alive. You never know what you will find at each "station" and that is part of the fun. Some are free hanging rappels, some are sheer cliff walls that you walk down. Some are simply down-climbs that technically are not rappels.
I would encourage anyone out there to at least try putting on a harness, belay device, and attaching it to a rope. There is something adventurous that shows up for most people, and they get the feeling of "aliveness." As always, make sure to "learn the ropes" by taking a class, or going with a very experience canyoneering guide. It could and will provide the safety needed and give you an experience while not putting your life in too much danger All sports come with an element of risk, but erring on the side of knowledge and safety is key.
 Many people don't think of it, but rappelling also involves hiking. You can't just drive up to a slot canyon (there are some, but it's rare) - you have to hike a few miles to get to your "station." This photo is descending into one of the larger canyons to have to hike across, with no trail, to get to the smaller, slot canyons. Be prepared with all of your hiking gear, as well as a map, GPS, and anything else you need to find your canyon.
 Dawn leads a group to one of their favorite canyons, Pine Creek.
 Hiking through slot canyons are incredibly beautiful, and add to the adventure of canyoneering. 

 If you would like to get into canyoneering, REI has great advice and will offer a rappelling class throughout the year. Utah Mountain Adventures also host courses on Canyoneering. SLC also has a local Meetup Group, Utah Canyoneering, that hosts events for intermediate rappellers.
Dawn Griffith was born and raised in the South, on the beaches of Florida. People who hear this find it odd how that she loves the mountains so much, and doesn't try to live on the beach like she did as a kid. As much as she love the beaches and scuba diving, she fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Colorado to attend college where she first met snow, and learned to ski and snowboard. It is also where she experience the true closeness to spirituality by being in nature. It gives her peace and tranquility like no yoga class can, and has never felt more connected to our natural planet more than  by being in the mountains. During the summers you can find Dawn hiking, biking, mountaineering, canyoneering, rock climbing, and playing golf. With the onset of winter, she cross country skies, snow shoes, downhill skis, snowboards, and ice climbs. A fun fact about Dawn is that she loves chickens, dogs, and most animals. She also loves nature photography, writing, and, yard work. You can follow Dawn via Utah Bucket Adventures on Facebook!

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