Gap: Chaos in the Canyons, Magic in Moab

Rock Semester

By Page and Sophie 

Our trip to the Canyons had a less than auspicious beginning–due to navigational difficulties, two of the three hiking groups had to tack on an extra four miles of walking on the road and mesa for a ten-mile first day. All arrived safely and hungry to camp, but soon after we were told to expect forty-five mile per hour winds and rain throughout the night. At around 3 in the morning, we awoke to the poles in our tents absolutely trashing in the wind, upon which Russell remarked, “just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.” At least there was some laughter amidst the chaos. Luckily, after the first night, the weather cooperated, but due to a large amount of rain in the area and an unfortunate ankle injury sustained by Annika, we ended up staying at the same campsite for three days. 

On the last day at our first campsite, Shona and Michael took most of the group to run Fry Canyon. (Running a canyon means rappelling or walking down into a canyon and then hiking through it.) No one (and we mean no one) knew what we were getting ourselves into, but we were confident we’d encounter some water. Well, we sure did. Immediately upon entering the canyon, we were met with a small river. Everyone had a different method of swimming through it–Tru tried spinning his arms as fast as possible, Nick floated calmly on his back and Page struggled with the weight of her backpack, to name a few. The water was absolutely freezing and our clothes and bags were utterly drenched. We weren’t in the water for very long, but boy, was it memorable. After attempting to dry ourselves off by running back and forth and doing jumping jacks, we continued hiking until we had to rappel to get lower into the canyon. We were warned we may be rappelling directly into the water, but thankfully the water was only waist-deep. Although none of us are very eager to plunge into cold water again anytime soon, running Fry Canyon was an unforgettable and wild experience. We left the canyoneering expedition tired, fulfilled, and excited for the climbing that awaited us in Big Bend. 

Despite a flat tire, we arrived at Big Bend campground in Moab where we were immediately reunited with Annika. We set up camps with our hearts full and our clothes covered in dirt and sand. After much-needed showers, we cooked dinner and settled into our new home for the next ten days. 

The next day, Halloween, we bouldered at the nearby bouldering field dressed in makeshift costumes and munching on candy from our favorite City Market employee Janice. The next few days were a blur of climbing. We kicked off the Moab section by heading to the famous “Wall Street” where we climbed some killer slabs. The next few days we split into pods in order to focus on specific skills. Half the group elected to go back to Indian Creek to hone their crack climbing skills, while the other half stayed in Moab to continue their sport climbing progression. Each day started with a discussion of everyone’s climbing goals and ended with us discussing our favorite crag dogs. 

Perhaps it was the warm weather or the puppies, but the whole group made huge progress towards their climbing goals. Nick, Tru, Russell, and Mel completed their first trad leads while in Indian Creek, and Annika sent a tricky 5’12 (with one foot!). Sophie, Page, Isabel, and Aidan made huge progress in their goal of leading a sport climb, and Spencer sent his first 5’11!

As we prepared to leave Moab and say goodbye to Shona, we reflected on how close we’ve all become as a group. Tears flowed as did the rain as our last night in Moab came to a close.