Author Archives: Dave


About Dave

Dave Buckingham guides, outfits, and waxes poetic on all things canyoneering at Zion Adventure Company. When Dave isn’t exploring desert canyons or waterskiing on Lake Powell, you might find him fixing his boat, walking his dog, or tooting his own horn (it’s a trumpet) here in Springdale.

Robber’s Roost Canyoneering Trip Report

So what does someone who canyoneers for a job day in and day out do when they get time off?  Well, they go canyoneering.  I often get asked that question, and I tell people my days off look a lot like my days on, only I really try to seek out somewhere new so it’s more of an adventure. This last ‘weekend’ Jon (another Zion Adventure Company guide), my girlfriend Julie, and I went on an ‘adventure’ to the “Robber’s Roost” area of Southern Utah.  It can be found roughly here:,-110.32026,12z on a map.  Don’t see much?  Exactly.  It’s out there.  In fact, it’s about as ‘out there’ as one can get to in Utah by any sort of somewhat conventional transportation.  By ‘conventional’ transportation, one really needs a reliable high clearance four wheel drive vehicle to navigate the 50 something miles of rocky dirt roads. The nice thing about a Toyota Land Cruiser is that they’re rugged yet reliable The other nice thing about Land Cruisers is that they’re pretty easy to fix when they break down… even with whatever you happen to have in your canyoneering backpack.   The day we arrived, we went into a canyon called … Continue reading

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Winter Grand Circle Field Trips

Our 2012 season has been rewarding in many ways. We have had enjoyable experiences with thousands of new visitors. Our staff has been the happiest, healthiest, and most cohesive of my eight seasons at ZAC. We head into December celebrating the largest winter staff in our history, as eleven staff will continue work in some capacity. Winter is a time of reflection, relaxation, rejuvenation, improvement, creativity, and innovation. We look for ways to improve ourselves and the way we do things. One such initiative is the Staff Winter Grand Circle Field Trips. With enthusiasm, we are eagerly visiting places visitors often ask about, or even tell us stories about. Our goal is to broaden our skill level as information givers by becoming familiar with more of the Southwest, its places, and context. We journey to destinations few, sometimes none of us have visited, putting staff in charge of planning the trip who have never been. (We love adventure, too.) In the coming weeks, you will see ZAC blog articles of our exploits and the potentially hilarious hijinks that ensue. We aim to travel to Toroweap, Escalante, Antelope Canyon, and more. Our aim is to use these field trip experiences to … Continue reading

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Trip Report: Russell Gulch and Subway, 9/9/2011

With beautiful weather and the upcoming ACA Rendezvous, many people may be planning a visit the Subway soon. The following trip report details the conditions I found on last Friday, September 9th. Springdale Forecast: Partly Cloudy, High of 90, 30% chance of Scattered afternoon thunderstorms. Group Size: Two 10:30: Started hiking at Wildcat (would have liked to start earlier to avoid afternoon rain) 1:30 Arrived top of Subway Slot (where Russell Gulch meets Left Fork) 2:30 Arrived Red Cascades at the end of the “technical section” 5:05 Finished Hiking at Left Fork We started with the Russell Gulch Variation at the beginning. There were 5-10 wades and one short swim in that section, before the “Subway Proper.” In the Subway itself, we encountered 5-6 swims. The swims were not that long (some as short as 3-5 feet long). We waded up to the waist at least 8 more times. The water was significantly colder for the first half of the hike, up until near Rappel 2 where the black bowling ball chockstone is. This is also where the water begins flowing in the canyon (no flowing water, only still pools up to that point). The water was a bit warmer after that … Continue reading

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Cold Conditions Persist in Keyhole and Pine Creek Canyons

With high temperatures in the 90s to 100s, Zion canyoneers often expect to roast in the toasty sun. Depending on canyon conditions, however, unprepared canyoneers can be in for a rude and shivering awakening while descending particular canyons. Zion saw a long, cold, and wet spring this year, and as a result, Keyhole and Pine Creek canyons are currently very cold, full, and wet. If you’ve been to Pine Creek before and found the pools shallow and reasonable, odds are it was a “shallow” year, when the pools were filled with sand, and thus fewer and shallower. This year is definitely a “deep” year, with long, cold, deep swims that makes things pretty exciting. It can be difficult to understand the hypothermic risk in there when you’re sweating in the sun at the trailhead, but a few long, cold swims in 60-degree water, combined with a lack of sunny spots and a chilling canyon wind, you can easily find yourself chattering uncontrollably. The past two weekends, all our clients who rented wetsuits for Keyhole and Pine Creek reported were quite glad to have had them. Here were some of their comments: “The water is cold, and there is a lot … Continue reading

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Lake Powell Boaters’ Update

Wondering what is going on in Glen Canyon? A fantastic winter snowfall in the Rockies is currently melting, and on Friday, July 1 the inflow to Lake Powell measured 78,849 cubic feet per second. At the same time, the outflow of water released down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon to Lake Mead was 24,522 CFS, which is the maximum power generating capacity of the electric station at Glen Canyon Dam. As a result, Lake Powell is currently rising eight inches each day; the Lake level has risen ten feet in the last two weeks. The result for boaters is a myriad of dangerous obstacles barely covered by water, capable of injuring boats and boaters alike. In addition to the rocks, the rising water is floating once-beached logs, bark, and trash, creating additional hazards. Some Specific Lake Powell Notes: • Wiregrass Canyon (behind Lone Rock( currently has at least five rock hazards just below the current water level. • The entrance to Labyrinth Canyon is very difficult to navigate at the current water level. • The camping area at Lone Rock Beach is disappearing daily, as the rising water submerges more of the sandy beach. This is true of … Continue reading

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Quick Birch Hollow Trip Report

Descended Birch Hollow yesterday. Still flowing. Water flows right over the downclimb routes at the early down climbs. We were able to avoid getting in more than knee deep. Got wet from pools and spray from waterfalls. Didn’t use suits. High temp was 80 in Springdale. We were a bit cold at times, but not drastically uncomfortable. Water below knee in Orderville. Winter mudslides have made the early part of the steep ascent to the Orderville meadow a bit arduous and difficult to follow. Dave

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Spring Snowstorms Keep Things Exciting in Balmy Springdale

Snow fell on Friday and Saturday in Springdale… actually, it felt more like Winderdale. Though little snow accumulated on the ground in town, conditions through much of Zion have been affected by the snow. On Saturday morning, ten inches of snow were reported at the Left Fork trailhead for the Subway on Kolob Terrace Road. Zion Spring visitors are occasionally surprised to find snow and ice on trails. This surprise is understandable, given that most visitors don’t encounter Winter Conditions on the roadways, or see much snow as they enter Zion. The steep vertical walls of the National Park keep temperatures cool and trails shaded, however, causing them to hold snow and ice longer than the wider, sunnier areas guests travel though as they approach Zion. Those headed to many hikes in Zion Canyon such as Angel’s Landing and Observation Point will find traction devices which slip-on over your shoes useful for the next day or so as things will slowly begin to melt Sunday. For current weather conditions, always feel free to stop into our shop or the Zion Visitor’s Center.  

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Volunteer Visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

What has 600 eyes, 300 tails and 1200 legs? These overwhelming proportions belong to no single beast, but to the population of Dog Town at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Just 20 minutes east of Zion, Best Friends is America’s largest sanctuary for abandoned and abused animals. This nationaly-reknowned no-kill animal sanctuary is home to horses, pigs, cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, goats, and a few other animals, too, a veritable Noah’s Ark for animals in need. In 2010, Best Friends was visited by 30,000 people, helped by 8500 volunteers, and had a membership of 300,000. On my first volunteer trip, I went ready to do grunt work, clean stuff, and get dirty. I chose to work with the dogs. Upon arrival, I learned that loving dogs and walking dogs are two of the biggest ongoing contributions wanted and needed from volunteers. This seemed “too easy” at first; reluctantly, I agreed to let go of my attachment to grunt work and embrace being an animal lover. After a few minutes being gazed at, leaned on, and wagged at by several dogs, their appreciation of my effort was obvious. It made sense, and honestly made it easy for me to … Continue reading

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Sunshine Peeks Through Today In Zion

After another morning of rain, the sun finally made an appearance this afternoon, the first time we have seen the sun since last Friday. The Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun” ran through my mind when the blue sky and yellow light first came into my view. With the road open, I decided to escape Springdale. I headed “down the hill,” as the locals say, to St. George for a visit to the Pizza Factory and a movie. The drive was pretty interesting, as State Route 9 runs parallel to the Virgin River en route to St. George and there were many changes to observe along the way. Mosquito Cove BLM Campground is covered in sticks and flood sand. Pools of standing water are still there. The flood was not kind to a few parts of the Virgin River Resort RV Park Campground. Devastated by the great North Creek Flood of 2007, it was painful for me to see that though they remain open, they were hit again by high waters. I took my dog, Myles, to the Springdale River Park late this afternoon for a walk. The log and tree debris was quite impressive. A large cottonwood had toppled … Continue reading

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Flooding Fears Easing in Zion This Morning

At 6:40 this morning, I was awakened by the sounds of the garbage truck reverberating through my neighborhood. This is not normally a significant event, but on this particular morning, it suggests State Route 9 is open from St. George to Springdale. I peer out the window. Though it is not yet light, I can see raindrops are hitting the puddles of standing water. Low hanging clouds obscure our view of the West Temple to the west, and the Watchman to the east. It doesn’t seem to be raining hard, but that has been typical for this entire flooding experience over the last 5 days. I walked over to my computer to check the river flow, and was relieved to see the volume at 892 cfs. There was some meteorological expectation yesterday that we would see 4000 cfs again today, which seems more difficult to imagine now, with the river below 1000. Today’s forecast is for a 60% chance of rain. This suggests it might rain 100% of the time for 60% of the day, based on how things have been going. Friday’s forecast is sunny and 54. My thanks go to Qwest Communications Company for keeping the internet up … Continue reading

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