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

The Subway's iconic exit

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 point.

We did not wear wetsuits. We wore shorts and t-shirts and took fleece, long johns, and long sleeve shirts to warm-up with. The sky was quite cloudy. We were only in the sun on the hike in because it was cloudy when we hiked out. We were both cold at times. I get cold relatively easy. If I were to go tomorrow in the same conditions, I would probably take a wetsuit jacket. Echoes of thunder and thunderstorms were chasing us from 1:30PM on. Hiking fast to avoid flooding helped us keep warm.

High temperatures and cloudiness vary from day to day lately. These factors, in combination with how easily someone gets cold, impact what gear helps make people comfortable, so equipment recommendations are somewhat wide-ranging. I could see someone being okay in shorts and a tee-shirt, and another person being very happy they brought a full wetsuit.

While we were in the canyon, we examined the flood escapability. I found there are actually a lot of places where a person could climb 10 feet or more… up slabs to a ledge, up brushy slope, up a chimney. The frequency of these escape spots is generally one every 2 to 5 minutes at our brisk rate of travel. Some of these escapes would have required easy Class 5 rock climbing skills.

Reporting,
Dave

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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.
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