Utah is home to some of the most amazing canyons in the world. With thousands of incredible places to hike repel and enjoy the outdoors you literally have thousands of places to explore. I love the outdoors and one activity that I have not done nearly enough of in my life is Canyoneering. Luckily I have a cousin who is an expert and has connections with an amazing company Northwash Outfitters who hooked us up with all of the gear we would need for the trip.
Our destination was a rapid fire repelling canyon called Pleiades. We met first thing in the morning in Moab and headed towards the trailhead. Which is about 20 minutes outside of Moab, the hike-in is very easy and can’t be much further than a 1/2 mile.
Once we started heading into the canyon I started to get a little nervous. I have been repelling multiple times however it had been a few years and I was feeling rusty. My cousin Aaron got us settled down with a few tips and guidance on foot placement for the repel and off we went.
Cleaning Up The Rust
The first repel is absolutely incredible heading right down the middle of the waterfall for what I would estimate is around 25 to 30 feet. The wet suits were a welcome addition to our equipment list keeping me warm for the entire trip. Taking those first few steps backwards and drops is a surreal experience luckily my muscle memory returned quickly and I felt right at home after just few feet.
Following the first repel you hike around 100 yards until you reach the next set of drops, which happen one after the other until you reach the bottom of the Canyon some 400ft later.
The constant water flow can make the rock very slick in some areas with a lot of moss growing on the rocks. In the picture above you can see us hugging the wall as we hike to the next repelling area. Because this canyon is located in the mountains outside of town it really stands out compared to the traditional Moab landscape. The canyon is absolutely beautiful and the pictures from my GoPro really doesn’t do it justice at all. For me the repels that made me the most nervous were actually not very high, however the way the drop started made it easier to start the repel by sitting down and sliding your hips off. Not having my feet underneath me and using my non brake hand to push myself away from the rock was different from what I am used to and took a little getting used to. Once you drop enough to get your legs against the rock again and assume a traditional repelling position was always comforting.
During one section of the canyon you drop into an area that has a lot of water flow and feels almost like a cave. Because the water is cold here we staggered the repel and had two groups going at once, one set running the upper repel and another the lower. As soon as you got off repel you jumped on the other line and headed down the second step. The repelling area gets fairly narrow during the second repel where the water has been cutting a chute through the rock for thousands of years. This was by far my favorite part of the trip the water rushing down between your legs and spraying your face as you straddle the rock and repel down.
The final repel follows a wider section of rock that is very slick due to moss. During this repel I had a small miss hap where I lost my footing off of a small drop and the ledge goes into the rock so I was sucked inside the crack.
Once I got back on my feet I headed down the final 20ft or so. This section is a ton of fun and gives you a lot of freedom to choose where on the rocks you want to come down. My arms were fatigued by the end of the day, mostly from holding to tightly to the rope and the brake neither of which are really needed but lack of experience led to over excursion. The last obstacle is straddling a large fallen tree to get down the final drop off. This can be repelled as well but straddling was faster.
The hike back to the main trail is steep but short, by the time we were back to our trucks it had taken our group around 4 hours to take the canyon. For me this was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life. I love being outdoors and especially love being in the mountains. There is something very special about being in beautiful places. Every time I head into the mountains I feel a special bond with my creator, like he is sharing a special place created for the sole purpose of making our lives better.The entire trip was an incredible adventure and I can’t wait to do some more Canyoneering. If you are looking to spend more time in the outdoors in Utah consider taking up Canyoneering, with great locations all over the state it is a great way to get more out of living in Utah. Special thanks to the Brewers for being our guides!