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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
Tuesday, October 29
Slot Canyon Adventure
View
Trekker Jan, working hard to keep his feet dry.

Trekker Jan, working hard to keep his feet dry.
Courtesy Christina Nesset

View
Christina Nesset begins the path into a new adventure.

Christina Nesset begins the path into a new adventure.
Courtesy Jan Nesset

Slot Canyons are basically deeply eroded narrow cuts through sandstone. They’re fascinating structures, really, built mostly by rushing water.

Yet another permit in hand, Chris and I made the plunge into Buckskin Gulch in Utah’s Paria Plateau. Our plan was to hike east through the gulch to the confluence with Wire Pass Gulch and then turn southwest into Wire Pass and explore it to the Wire Pass trailhead. Both gulches have notable slot canyons but Buckskin is the one coveted for its narrowness and length. You could spend five days in Buckskin hiking and clambering toward its terminus at Lee’s Ferry. This is a great time of year to do it. Why, because although Fall ranks as second-most high time for flash floods, after the spring, it’s also an excellent time to travel because of the coolness and the lack of people.

But we had only the time and energy for a day adventure. Today we decided to do the bicycle shuttle first rather than at the end of the hike. So after dropping Chris at the Buckskin trailhead and then parking the car four miles south at the Wire Pass trailhead, I rode my bicycle up and over the connecting dirt road. It went fast.

The trail into Buckskin Gulch starts on the surface but soon disappears into the wash to then occasionally emerge on a bank. We often chose to stay in the wash, a mostly dry prospect despite the heavy rain of the preceeding days, for the easiest walking. The first stretch of the canyon for, say, two miles is open and contrary to a slot canyon. High sandstone spires and mounds punctuate the canyon but, according to our map, we're looking for a distinct spot where the slot canyon begins. Our map was correct.

Entering the slot canyon conjured images of flash flooding. Claustrophobia does that here. We thought we had eliminated the horrid thoughts by delaying our entry day to today. The sandstone walls, so close and unclimbable, giving no avenues for escape should a rain 30 miles upstream gather in an unrelenting rush toward the canyon, blasting us unaware souls while we were in it. But we were just paranoid.

It didn’t take long for us to push out the fears of flash-flooding and to genuinely enjoy ourselves and the marvel in which we explored. We felt like lucky people, not because we were in such a splendid place but because we had the wherewithal and the time to seek it out.

The walls rose more than a hundred feet in some places. Other places blocked nearly all the sunlight. The walls were that close to one another. Jams of logs and wooded debris were crimped high into the narrows far above the canyon floor. We stopped and looked up at some of these jams from directly beneath. They looked like they could fall at any time so we put a stop to that, from then on briskly walking under them.

Two hours into the canyon we began to feel a chill in the confines of Buckskin Gulch on this fine, clear day. We had removed excess clothes earlier but returned to wearing them. The slot canyon went on and on, always showing something new but never showing something wildly new. We got into the habit of hiding in tiny “caves” for the fun of it. Those were new, for a while, and then the character of the canyon changed.

I was informed by Rachel Tunney at the information center that we’d likely encounter pools of water. She said that to get through them we’d probably have to get wet. Soon after the confluence with Wire Gulch her prediction came true: we encountered pools of water where we had to either make big efforts to avoid them or walk through. Being a pansy at the pools, I chose to brace myself against the walls – feet on one side, hands on the other -- and straddle-walk above the pools to avoid getting my feet wet. Chris, on the other hand, plunged right in and walked on through. She's tough.

An hour past the confluence Chris and I reluctantly decided to turn around and work our way up to and into Wire Pass gulch. A much shorter gulch, Wire Pass also put in our path the biggest obstacles of the day. Huge boulders blocked our passage at two constricted passages. I’m generally not one to accept help climbing over things but I had no choice at one massive boulder. Chris, my pregnant wife, allowed me to step on her shoulder to boost me up to a spot where I could get the grips I needed to haul myself up and over the boulder. Then, my legs dangling but held rigid over the rock, Chris climbed over me and the boulder to get herself up. What messy fun!

The large half of Wire Pass is little more than a sandy hike up a wash to intercept the trail that people take to get to The Wave. We were back in our footsteps of two days prior. Then back in our car.

It was time to head home. For the next five hours Chris and I basked in the glow of our series of great adventures on public lands. We were tired in the good way. Refreshed for a new start at our everyday tasks. And sad we had to say good-bye.
for Tuesday, October 29
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
An experienced outdoorsman, Jan Nesset knows that everyone has to pitch in at camp
A native of Montana and the third of four children, Jan Nesset joins American...
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List of All Journal Entries
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Wednesday, April 28
Jan Nesset
American Frontiers: Part II: Taking Stock
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Sunday, December 1
Jan Nesset
Canyonlands in December
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Thursday, November 21
Jan Nesset
Snow Raspberry Bounty
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Sunday, November 17
Jan Nesset
The Bisti Badlands
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Friday, November 15
Jan Nesset
Public Land Flows Through It
   >> more...

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Thursday, November 7
Jan Nesset
A Day At Earth Analytic's Home
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Tuesday, October 29
Jan Nesset
Slot Canyon Adventure
   >> more...

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Monday, October 28
Jan Nesset
Some Things Never Change
   >> more...

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Sunday, October 27
Jan Nesset
Back To The Wave
   >> more...

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Monday, October 7
Jan Nesset
The Thing About Summits
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Saturday, September 28
Jan Nesset
A New Beginning: National Public Lands Day
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Thursday, September 26
Jan Nesset
Big Day of Sneak and Salvage
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Wednesday, September 25
Jan Nesset
History-Coated Strawberry
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Tuesday, September 24
Jan Nesset
The Last Of It
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Monday, September 23
Jan Nesset
Dinosaurlandia
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Sunday, September 22
Jan Nesset
Over The Edge
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Saturday, September 21
Jan Nesset
God Bless America
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Friday, September 20
Jan Nesset
Sometimes It's A Tough Life And We Get To Do It
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Thursday, September 19
Jan Nesset
The Niche Near You
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Wednesday, September 18
Jan Nesset
Snow Day
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Tuesday, September 17
Jan Nesset
A Capitol Reef Bull's Eye
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Monday, September 16
Jan Nesset
A Lucky Rift
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Sunday, September 15
Jan Nesset
Riding The Hog's Back
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Saturday, September 14
Jan Nesset
Oh Rhythm My Rhythm
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Friday, September 13
Jan Nesset
Precious Images
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Thursday, September 12
Jan Nesset
From the Hole to the Staircase
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Wednesday, September 11
Jan Nesset
Happy Days
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Tuesday, September 10
Jan Nesset
Do You Believe In Magic?
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Monday, September 9
Jan Nesset
The Bridge Over the River Why
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Sunday, September 8
Jan Nesset
Public Lands And…Not You?
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Saturday, September 7
Jan Nesset
That Place So Special
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Friday, September 6
Jan Nesset
Just Looking To Have Some Fun – Be Dammed!
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Thursday, September 5
Jan Nesset
Do The Wave
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Wednesday, September 4
Jan Nesset
The Condors Are Coming!
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Tuesday, September 3
Jan Nesset
Fires Are For The Birds
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Monday, September 2
Jan Nesset
Back On Top
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Sunday, September 1
Jan Nesset
Perfection
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Saturday, August 31
Jan Nesset
The Wheels Have Left The Tarmac
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Friday, August 30
Jan Nesset
Star Light
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Thursday, August 29
Jan Nesset
The Traditional Connection
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Wednesday, August 28
Jan Nesset
Onward and Upward On Mountain Bikes
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Tuesday, August 27
Jan Nesset
Checkerboard Kings and Queens
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Monday, August 26
Jan Nesset
Aldo Leopold As Ranch Manager
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Sunday, August 25
Jan Nesset
A Story In Everything
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Saturday, August 24
Jan Nesset
Fire In The Whole
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Friday, August 23
Jan Nesset
"Good Morning, Flagstaff!"
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Thursday, August 22
Jan Nesset
Hoping For The Best
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Wednesday, August 21
Jan Nesset
Could Get Stinky
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Tuesday, August 20
Jan Nesset
Wheels Asunder
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Monday, August 19
Jan Nesset
Hurt Me, Thank You!
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Sunday, August 18
Jan Nesset
Roads Aplenty and Rocks of Pleasure
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Saturday, August 17
Jan Nesset
Of Dragons and Fire
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Friday, August 16
Jan Nesset
Motorcycles and the Zen of Route Mechanics
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Thursday, August 15
Jan Nesset
Puzzled
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Wednesday, August 14
Jan Nesset
A Day Off, Sort Of
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Tuesday, August 13
Jan Nesset
A Delightful, Light Day
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Monday, August 12
Jan Nesset
Courage On Eagle Mountain
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Sunday, August 11
Jan Nesset
Farewell
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Saturday, August 10
Jan Nesset
My Aching Back In The Saddle
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Friday, August 9
Jan Nesset
Back In The Saddle
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Thursday, August 8
Jan Nesset
In The Saddle
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Wednesday, August 7
Jan Nesset
Shut My Mouth!
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Tuesday, August 6
Jan Nesset
Diversity and Song
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Monday, August 5
Jan Nesset
An Unraveling
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Sunday, August 4
Jan Nesset
A Bagged Peak
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Saturday, August 3
Jan Nesset
Lines On A Map
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Friday, August 2
Jan Nesset
GPS-Marriage Made In Heaven
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Thursday, August 1
Jan Nesset
Free Wheelin'
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Wednesday, July 31
Jan Nesset
An Excellent Start
   >> more...








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