Neon Canyon: Braving the Summer Heat in Escalante

Clouds at Cow Camp

Clouds at Cow Camp

Al enjoying Upper Brimstone Canyon

Al enjoying Upper Brimstone Canyon

Went down to Escalante for a little Neon action. It being June and all, and a hot year to boot, and knowing Neon was dry dry dry; for this trip Mike Schasch and I convinced our guests that running daytrips out of a car-camp would be a much better plan than backpacking down (and back up!) in this kinda heat. (Some pictures by ME, some pics by Mike Schasch.)

This was the third and final spring Neon trip for Zion Adventure Company Mike and I ran, and each trip was very, very different. Some were inspired by the Neon Trip Jonathan and I did with Greg Aiello and Motion TV. And some were just inspired by the beauty of the Golden Cathedral, and signed on up… like Gary, Al and Dennis from the Portland Area, who are experienced mountaineers (or, at least, golfers) and therefore used to suffering (or, in Dennis’s case, frustration).

First day, I reached 10 years into my past and remembered a delightful day in March I spent in upper Brimstone and upper Spooky with Larry Halford. It did not click with me that: A. I have a terrible memory; and B. March and June do not have the same weather. So we wandered around in the sun and it was very hot. Finally found a good section of Upper Brimstone that was quite narrow for a wonderfully long time. We enjoyed the cool of it, with some downclimbs, some squeezin’s and some snakes! Then we wandered around in the hot sun again to get back to the car. It was… kinda like fun, only different.

The crew in the glow of the Golden Cathedral

The crew in the glow of the Golden Cathedral

Back to camp for a glorious sunset, and vigorous attempts to refill the depleted reservoirs of precious bodily fluids. I had no problem convincing folks that an early start was a good idea for Neon. With light packs, it took us exactly 2 hours to get to the mouth of Neon, where we took a long break. Then back into the sun, up and along the rim to the “More Fun” entrance – one hour and 15 minutes in the sun was tolerated, barely. Another bit of lunch and a brief siesta in the cool of the canyon, and then we were off downcanyon with some downclimbs, the occasional rappel, and of course the keeper pothole that people find so intimidating – Mike almost climbed it without assistance. We were up and out fairly quickly, and the pool afterwards was wonderfully cool, if only waist deep. We lingered for a bit.

Then back into the sun, past the sport entrance, down the downclimb, another rappel, then to the main Keeper, now with the wishbone in place, and the BIG EVENT, big finish.

We pumped water and lingered in the holy space of the Cathedral, but eventually, the sun had to be braved and we hiked out via Fence. A few clouds really helped with the exit hike, and we cleared the summit before dark. A long day, but very satisfying… thanks to all for a great day out in the wilderness.

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About Tom

Tom Jones is an inventor, author, entrepreneur, gear tester, photographer, and, first and foremost, a canyoneer, living in the hamlet of Mt. Carmel, Utah, on the east side of Zion National Park. Tom is also a valued member of the ZAC Guide Corps, weaving in numerous training and guiding days amongst his myriad adventures and responsibilities.
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