Canyoneering brings in the New Year

I try to live my life such that this event isn’t necessarily the dumbest thing I do each year. 

I succeeded, but it didn’t detract from my anxiety over the 4 days of spending sub-freezing weather in the weather itself.. and maybe even in freezing water. Are your fingers tingling yet? 

My preparation for FreezeFest this year included carbing up at the ‘rents for the holiyays, trying to remember the canyons I imagined doing, and packing every possible warm layer in my closet. Cass and I show up to a glowing fire, dimming sun, and many warm faces ready to greet some more idiots. There was talk of doing all the Hogs (including miss piggy, which I’ll call Hog 4) in a day. Welp, that would leave me beta-less but ready to put in a long day.. or.. as much time as the sun allows these winter months.. 

.. and BOOM! Off hiking at the bright and early time of 9AM with a team of 5 exceptional canyoneers. We slid down Hog 4, ran up and around to 3, escaping before the rappel, punting over to 2, running up to 1, then alllll the way down the wash. 

I was worried that doing 4 canyons in a row would limit and smoosh my memory, so many photos were had.. Impressions are: Hog 4 has 2 longer raps, (there is another at the beginning that we downclimbed..) and many open walkways. It warmed us up nicely for the razorrrrback! Aptly named. Gear was trashed. Sweat was left. What a ‘shocker’ of a canyon-one minute you’re strolling and the next you’re 20ft off the deck.. and then you’re squished.. rinse and repeat. 

Hog 2 was the real gem though: swirly elevators and beautiful corridors, and just enough stemming to make you feel like you deserved the previous two. Similar to Hog 1 based on photos, though I hardly remember it (surprise..)

Day 2: “Do you see what I see?” Cassy shuffled in her sleeping bag. “Yes.” I had been wondering why the night seemed a bit warmer.. til I saw the layer of white frosting on my truck’s windows. “You think we’re still doing a canyon today?” “Uhhhh, I dunno.” We popped open the truck and saw not a soul in sight.. 

turns out they were all hanging out in Jenny’s car. “I think I want to check the exit.” Ram said, “And maybe the entrance.. we’ve never had to do that before.” FreezeFest number 17 still had surprises in store. We all drove to the exit for the Black Hole, to find it also had a fine coating. Hike, slide, hike again, downclimb, slide, stand, set rope, hike, army crawl.. so the morning was spent. 

Phew. Cass and I then made a plan for running thru middle Leprechaun. I scoffed when Tom told us we’d work up a sweat. I couldn’t expose any of my skin in this weather without getting freezer burn. The wind picked up so it felt like it was in fact snowing again, and the canyon was beautiful with the white goodness on the orange goodness. Also, turns out Tom knew what he was talking about.. because I sweat.. a lot. I felt like I had been through one of those hand-make-pasta machines.. RIP harness leg loops, you will be missed.  

Day 3: I went to bed nervous. I woke up nervous. I got dressed nervous. This was the main event, and I didn’t want to miss it, but a little part (or perhaps LARGE part) of my brain was telling me this might actually be the dumbest thing you’ll do all year.. and you’re starting the year like this.. I squeeze into my drysuit, could barely feel my toes as I squished them into neoprene, and had a difficult time actually buckling my backpack. Ugh. I’m doing this for fun. I’m doing this for fun. Turns out, 18 other idiots also thought this was a good idea..  what’s with people nowadays?! Ram calls FreezeFest ‘the bad idea that caught on,’ I call it ‘the crazy contagious.’ We smiled for the photo (for evidence of course), and sashayed down over the Earth’s white covers and found our way to the drainage at the early-bird start of 10:30am. Huh. Pretty dry. Huh. Lotsa sand. Huh. The suite-up spot was a bit father down-canyon than last year’s FreezeFest.. might be a good thing? The sand seemed fairly high as well. So low water plus high sand equals easy right?? Well, don’t think too hard, otherwise you wouldn’t be here in the first place. Just focus on the.. ICE! Ice to crack! Ice to crawl on! Ice to throw! Just keep moving! Running between pools, smashing ice on the side, egg-beating my legs through the murky depths, it was turning out quite pleasant. I didn’t take my camera for many reasons, the main one being survival. Also, the Black Hole is the one canyon that (most) everyone does, and with all the splitting-up and separate adventures that occur throughout the weekend, it can be difficult to meet or catch-up. Also, this is the last day of vacation. So you better enjoy it. Relish it, even. 

Thank goodness we set ropes. Thank goodness I made it out of there with all limbs attached. Thank goodness everyone else did as well. Wow what a trip. Thank you again, Native American soil, North Wash, Hanksville, and all you canyons. Til next year! 

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