Water Canyon (Full Right Fork)

Where: Hildale, Utah (just south of Zion National Park)
When: September 2008
Partners: DB, Mike Cressman & Andy Archibald

Crag-bagging on the way to the head of Water Canyon

Despite the assurance from a few knowledgable folks that a release of 15cfs from Kolob Reservoir would be okay for a descent of Boundary Canyon, we took one look at the point where Kolob Creek crosses Kolob Terrace Road and decided to wait for another day. It looked pretty wild, and none of us had been through the drainage before to know how it would translate for us down-canyon.
Thick vegetation in upper Water Canyon

Instead, we headed on over to creepy Hildale for a go at Water Canyon. We had no beta but I'd recalled reading a trip report from Bo and Tanya which made the canyon sound like fun. Let's go!
CP leading out over the abyss

Hiking up lower Water Canyon, we soon left the drainage and gained the steep, meandering trail that led to the rim above. Along the way, we noted two prominent forks in the upper canyon. Unsure of which was the "standard" route, we continued up to the head of the right fork and dropped in.
Nice rappel midway through

Immediately encountering thick, thick vegetation and no signs of feet, we continued down a bit discouraged. The drop was gradual and unpleasant and we began to question our choice of canyons for the day. But then...
Water Canyon

The canyon narrowed, and a slot formed. There was a short rappel (or sketchy downclimb) to drop in. Then another. Then another...with a narrower slot forming in the distance. And a logjam perhaps blocking the way.
Near the mouth of the canyon

The slot was tight. North Wash tight, perhaps 18" at one point. Mike, my 240-pound buddy, just barely squeezed through after removing his harness. We crawled under the logjam near the end and popped out into a widening canyon.
Looking up to Canaan Arch on the hike out

After setting up a sketchy rappel off a 1" diameter root a bit further on, we encountered another narrow slot (24") that soon led to an abyss. One could either seek out a suitable anchor (none obvious, at a glance) and rappel straight down and then swim out to daylight under a huge arch, or do a nasty, narrow downclimbing traverse on down-sloping ledges over heinous exposure. Yahoo!

Below the funky traverse, we soon encountered the confluence of the two main forks, and finally, footprints. The rest of the canyon was dispatched with joy and fine style. Good times!

Photos by Mike Cressman