The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Black Hole of White Canyon

White Canyon
Last year, before finishing a backpack trip in Buckskin Gulch, I was already planning my next canyon adventure. Buckskin is in Utah on the Arizona-Utah border west of Page. Like every trip I do, no mater how big or small, part of it is recon. While in an Arizona REI, I picked up a couple canyoneering guide books filled with useful info on techniques and routes. The one that particularly caught my eye was one known as Lower Waterholes. It involves very tight slots and a 440 foot rappel. I knew I didn't have the skill or knowledge to do this one right off the bat so I started doing a little digging trying to educate myself, that's when I came across The Blackhole. The Blackhole is in White Canyon and known for it's long, deep, and narrow slots filled with COLD water. It looked like a lot of fun and not very dangerous, unless there is a flash flood, which killed a girl back in 96'. Sad story. The Blackhole was really the catalyst for the whole trip to Utah this year, everything else was secondary. When we got to the trail-head on Monday I was amped, we already had several awesome rides and two canyoneeing trips under our belts, we were on a roll. Minutes into the hike we were greeted by a sign that read something like "it's too dangerous right now to go down canyon and call this #" . We didn't just drive 1500 miles to turn around on account of a scary sign, the phones didn't work anyway, we were in the middle of nowhere. Once on the canyon floor the walking was easy and scenic. It was really dry and we wondered if we would even get to go swimming. The first indication we were getting close to the "Hole" was when the bare rock floor opened into a deep narrow slit filled with water, eureka! We put on our wet suits now and jumped in. We had so much fun we made several passes through this section, just in case this was it. That was not it, we had not even started the Black Hole yet and wandered quite a ways down canyon before we hit it. It was freakin' awesome! I was so in the moment it's hard to remember everything now. I do remember the water being very cold but refreshing and invigorating. One spot had a small log jam that we climbed over, (10-12 feet)someone else had left ropes for a hand line to get back down the other side. Right after that we had to duck under other logs and chock stones wedged in the narrow, dark, slots. The "hole" was surreal, not a lot of light made it down there, hence the name. The water was a clean aqua blue, except for the light coating of film and water striders (bugs) on the surface, but not clear enough to see down more than a couple feet. This made the water all the more mysterious, how deep was it? We already had a good twenty vertical feet of wall surrounding us, in addition to the 200 foot ++ walls that made up the main part of White Canyon, and could not see the bottom. I didn't want to drop down too deep in the water to find out either. It was a little spooky imagining a flash food in this section, it would be ugly.  Inside the walls were smooth and cold, the slot followed no pattern other than the crazy squiggling line that a child might draw, and often had wavy patterns in the multiple layers of sandstone. I wanted this to go on for miles. It didn't. On the walk out I was thinking of all the friends and family (wife and kids) that I would like to bring back to this amazing place. I would also like to thank Steve for accompanying me on this awesome adventure, without a competent companion this trip (Utah Super Trip) would have been foolish, no fun, and not possible.        


It's hard not to stop and look at these

Let's go swimming

I think this is after the long swims
Looks like a skull from some sort of demon right? 

The beauty never ends down there

Steve making his way out of the canyon

The next 5 pics are with my water proof camera and are within the Black Hole area 

That's about 12 feet to the bottom

Yes, we are going in there

This is where we had dinner and camped for the night, Lake Powell is only about  four miles away. I rode there on my PUG after dinner.

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