On Friday 7/24, seven hikers headed to Zion National Park for a weekend of canyoneering. The weather was sketchy, so decisions had to be made. The original plan was to do Pine Creek on Saturday and Keyhole Canyon on Sunday. The higher chance of rain was on Saturday, so we flip flop days, since Pine Creek Canyon is more likely to flash flood.
Once everyone rented gear from Zion Adventure Company, we headed for Keyhole Canyon. This short canyon is great for beginners. There are several swim sections and two short rappels that had bolts and hangers. The only equipment needed for this canyon is a 100' of rope and basic rappel gear. A wetsuit is recommended year around because this canyon does not receive much sun. It took us 1 1/2 hours to complete and luckily we ended up with perfect weather!
Sunday morning we headed to Pine Creek Canyon, another good beginner's canyon. This canyon needs a car shuttle, as the trail head and trail end are a couple miles apart. There were several mandatory swims and some awkward exits from rappels. The water temperature in this canyon was colder than that of Keyhole Canyon. There were five rappels, all with bolts and hangers, with the last one being a 96 foot free rappel. After the last rappel, there is a hour hike to the car. A 200 foot rope and basic rappel gear was needed for this canyon. Pine Creek Canyon took our group about four hours to complete. This was a very fun canyon and highly recommended.
A note on the Watchman Campground. The squirrels will get into everything. They tried to chew open a plastic bin to get food. When gone during the day keep your food in your car. The park rangers are enforcing the rules on the number of tents allowed at a site. Standard sites allow 6 people and 2 tents. We had 3 tents up at one site and they made us take one down. We forgot Shin was inside as we took it down!
Basic rappel gear includes a harness, belay device, gloves, locking carabiner, personal anchor and a helmet. I would also recommend extra slings, carabiners and a prusik for a backup.
Note from Branch: Thanks Debbie for this report. I was attending the wedding of Del Griffith and Edith Bunker and could not make this trip.