Mark and Max try canyoneering, hilarity ensues

I am starting to think we should rename this blog, “Max Does Things He’s Bad At.”

Hear me out. This is a list of posts we have so far: two posts on fishing (HERE and HERE) which have resulted in a total of one fish, one about my inability to read a weather forecast, one where I walk for miles in dry boots just to step fall in during the only stream crossing of the day, and a guide to getting in hiking shape that only tells you to go hiking more. Hell, a very small, BUT VERY VOCAL minority of you don’t even like my political analysis/photoshop skills. With all this in mind, I decided to try canyoneering this weekend.

I’ve wanted to try canyoneering for a long time. If you have been with this blog since the beginning you know  that the number of people that I see hiking is inversely proportional to the amount of fun that I have. You also know that I have a habit of wandering off the trail a little bit. Together with the fact that I’m running out of trails I haven’t hiked in Arizona, these traits make me a near perfect candidate for canyoneering.

Unfortunately, as I have no climbing experience, a super technical slot canyon wasn’t really an option yet. I also have a strong aversion to dying, so I beguiled my poor friend Golab into coming along. We picked out a nice, non-technical area, Haigler Canyon.

Now, when I say “non-technical” I don’t mean easy. See that picture above? It’s from a previous trip to Hell’s Gate (where Haigler Creek and Tonto Creek converge). The massive Canyon in the background of that shot is Haigler Canyon. For our trip we were starting near the headwaters of Haigler Creek, near Young Arizona, and working our way to a small waterfall well within in the Hell’s Gate Wilderness. The trip started easy enough, but within a few hundred yards we came to our first encounter with the cold, cold water. Actually let’s just let these pictures of Golab tell this part of the story:

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“Oh, it’s kinda cold.”
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“REALLY REALLY COLD”
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“MUST BE BRAVE”
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Survival success!

And now we get to my limitations as a photographer/human being. After this first narrows section the creek the canyon got so tight that we had to swim ten of fifteen times over the next couple of miles. Unfortunately, because I was also swimming, there are no pictures. Luckily I found a perfect reenactment of our swimming on the interwebz.

In summary: swimming with a pack and wet clothes on, harder than expected.

Describing the rest of the trip is hard. It basically went like this:
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“Oh look, what a pretty pool of water.”

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“Let’s try walking though it.”

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*Step, stub toe. Step, stub toe. Step, stub shin. Step, hit rock with knee.*

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*Step, slide off rock. Step, roll ankle. Step, WAIT, WHY ARE WE DOING THIS. Step, I DON’T EVEN LIKE HIKING ANY MORE. Step, I HATE YOU AND I HATE HIKING AND I HATE EVERYTHING. Step, MY SHIIIIIIIINNNNNNNSSSSSSSSSSS.*

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“We’re out.” Moments later,  “This place is pretty. I’m glad we came here.”

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“Oh look, what a pretty pool of water. Let’s walk through it…”

Sooner than we expected though, we reached our destination, a 10 foot waterfall. It was an amazing place to eat lunch, rest, and recover before the long walk/scramble/swim back.

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Now I’m home. My shins are still bleeding. My knee is making a strange popping noise. My back feels like someone has replaced all my bones with very small pieces of glass. Will I go back? Of course I will.


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Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.

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4 thoughts on “Mark and Max try canyoneering, hilarity ensues

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