Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 Spring Trip - Day 6 - Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyons

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It’s Wednesday, half way thru the trip.  I woke up to a beautiful day.  Jessica was in camp and Travis had left to shoot sunrise at Devils Garden.  When he returned he said he had tried to wake me.  He shook the car then shook me and all I did was grunt and roll over.  I hadn't felt a thing, darn.

We had some coffee and ate breakfast and then we were off.  Travis and Jessica had picked the Zebra and Tunnel slot canyons to visit and I was all for it.  Having come from the cold Midwest, today was going to be a great hike.  The day was absolutely beautiful and the temperature couldn't have been better.

The terrain in this area is quite interesting.  The hills are generally bare and consist of many layers of sandstone.  A few years ago, like 600 to 2000 million years ago, this area hosted warm shallow seas and was located near shore environments.  Slowly this area has undergone an uplift of some 5,000 to 10,000 feet and is where we see it now.  Who knows what it will look like in another 50 million years.  What I do know is the fascination I have with what I see surrounding me.

As we hiked to Zebra slot the lines and shapes and patterns around me really struck me.  It’s fascinating how mother nature bends and twists itself into so many diverse ways. (Am I using the word fascinating to much?)

The entrance to Zebra canyon revealed little of what was to be found further along.  It’s not a long canyon but it quickly narrows and the walls grow tighter and tighter.  It’s hard getting your footing since your shoes are easily wedged in the V shape where the canyon walls meet at your feet.  Unfortunately Travis wasn't able to squeeze thru but I just made it.  After a short ways into the slot area, there was a little opening where you could actually easily stand.  This is a canyon where visitors need to take turns visiting.  There just isn't much room.

I’d seen pictures of Zebra Canyon and what I’d seen didn't look like what I’m seeing.  Further up the canyon though there was a boulder wedged in the canyon and it was clear to go further a little climbing was needed.  I got myself up and over the rock and there it was, the Zebra slot.  It is a very short section, maybe 25 feet long but looked really cool.  I walked to the other end and realized this was as far as I was going so I turned around and began photographing.  Since it’s such a confined space and there were others wanting to get in I didn't photograph as much as I’d like but there was more to see so we moved on.

Normally a visit to Tunnel slot means walking back to Harris Wash and walking up the wash to that canyon.  Jessica and Travis had heard of a different route that took us over the hills and into the back end of Tunnel Canyon.  The main reason for taking this route was to find the Moqui Marbles.

Did we ever find Moqui Marbles.  They were all over the place and were just fascinating.  Most were a dark color and those that had been cracked in half had red sandstone inside like the sandstone all around us.  They are just like black eggs and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  According to Wikipedia, Moqui Marbles are iron oxide concretions which are broken down iron-bearing silicate minerals.

Travis found the way down into the back end of Tunnel Canyon. I’m not sure if it’s actually called Tunnel Canyon but since Tunnel Slot is in the canyon I figured Tunnel Canyon would work.  It was a short distance before we reached the slot and what a surprise we got.  It definitely looked like a tunnel but the full length of the slot had water in it.  What was clear was we weren't going to back track but were going to go thru  it.

What we soon found was this was not a get your feet wet kind of water depth.  It started out being a little more than knee deep, at least for me.  Then it became deeper and it became apparent my iPhone and keys might be getting wet so I stopped to put them in my back pack.  When I pulled my phone from my pocket I heard something splash in the water.  I thought it was my keys but no they were still in my pocket, whew.  I felt around with my feet but couldn't feel anything and the water was to deep for me to reach down plus I had a backpack on my back so I went on.  It turns out the deepest part was at the far end and ended up above my waist.  First time I’d ever been in water like that and made for a memorable time.

Once we got thru the slot we took out shoes off and attempted to dry out a bit before returning to the cars.  It was then that I realized my GPS had fallen into the water.  Figuring it was fried I didn't go back to find it.  

It was a great day of hiking.  Tomorrow we’re planning to hike to the Grand Cathedral out of the Egypt trail head so we headed over there and camped out close by.


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