It was day three in horseshoe canyon, after a grueling two miles the previous day, it was time for a layover…
What exactly is a layover day? Well, the possibilities are endless, but essentially it meant that we were camping in the same (gorgeous) spot as the night before. So there was nowhere we had to hike to on this day.
As our fearless leader of the day, Katie, woke us up a whole half hour later than usual, we got to bask in the early morning sunlight eating our oatmeal, granola, dried fruit, and various hot drinks while pondering what the day had in store for us.
After a leisurely morning, we stuffed the brains of our backpacks with water, food, and journals and set off to go exploring. Just after lunch, we found ourselves face to face with a slot canyon!
We slid into it one by one; instructor Ben was the first in line. Him being the biggest member of our group, we knew that if he could fit, so could the rest of us. It started out pretty narrow; we sat with our backs pressed up against one wall and our feet on the other. We quickly learned that friction was our friend in sections like this, the more parts of your body touching the wall the better.
We had to slowly let ourselves slide down between the two walls, and under a rock that was stuck in a very hard place. It felt like we were sliding down a very snug chimney. This caused some major wedgies, but once through here, we were on the floor of the slot canyon.
The rough, tan Navajo sandstone up above seemed like a far away world compared to the smooth deep red walls, weathered by years of wind and water that surrounded us now. Looking up, there was a crack of sunlight that followed the canyon, getting wider in some parts and thinner in others. It felt sort of like we were in a desert crevasse.
As we shuffled through the sandy canyon bottom, I thanked my parents for giving me my skinny bones. In parts we had to hold our breath, point one foot north, one foot south, and side shuffle on through. It was during these times that many of us thought about flash floods, earthquakes, and the pickle we would be in… We quickly pushed these thoughts to the backs of our minds and continued on, giddy about how much fun this was.
I was following Jake, who had some pretty crazy Spiderman-like moves and slid effortlessly between the canyon walls… It wasn’t as easy as he made it look.
The canyon bottom eventually opened up a little (you could walk instead of shuffle) but not before a spooky little dark section that felt a bit like a Halloween haunted house.
After a couple minutes of walking, the canyon really opened up, and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, however, before us stood a murky, mucky, frigidly cold puddle stretching about 15 feet long. We couldn’t go over it, couldn’t go under in, and definitely couldn’t go around it… we had to go through it!
Shoes and shirts came off, and yelps of shock at how cold the water was ensued. It ended up being about four feet deep with a muddy bottom.
We emerged on the other side and were greeted by a sunny opening with plenty of slick rock to warm up on. Just beyond that was a sheer 100 foot drop off, and a pretty jankey anchor for those wishing to repel. For us however it was back the way we came.
We left the slot canyon with smiles on our faces and the shared wisdom that anything can happen on a layover day.