Monday, October 20, 2008
This past weekend we joined friends from Osprey and their spouses on a 16 mile loop trek through Fish and Owl canyons in SE Utah. One year ago this would have run of the mill - hardly extraordinary. My memory of Owl canyon was that it is, as canyons go, relatively simple to descend. In fact, a few years ago, Mar and I did a day hike down to Neville's Arch and back - 9 miles of relatively straightforward canyon trekking.
Hardly the case this time. First we did everything we could to maximize the ease of the trip. Marilyn carried a small pack with less than 18 lbs. in it, while I carried the rest of our combined gear. The descent into Owl involves some steep slickrock, rockhopping, and steep and loose sandy hillsides. It soon became apparent to both of us how different this all has become. Every step for Marilyn requires careful and deliberate placement. Progress was slow and arduous. We carried her pack for part of the descent to make things easier. In the end, that first day was right on the edge of what her current abilities are. We had only made it in about 3.5 miles over the course of 6 hours and we seriously considered not continuing the trip with the group.
However, Marilyn was fairly adament in her desire to keep going. The second day was relatively straightforward, hiking on a sandy trail and in rocky and sandy washes. The last day involved a steep climb up slickrock, sand and rocks, culminating in a 15 foot crack climb out of Fish canyon. All handled superbly and without the frustration and slowness of the first day. So - things keep improving and I think we can both say that we are grateful.