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Thread: Benson Creek, Birch Hollow, Egypt 3, Goblin's Lair, Tenaya Canyon

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    Benson Creek, Birch Hollow, Egypt 3, Goblin's Lair, Tenaya Canyon

    (Also posted on CC - not sure how much overlap of users there is, am sure someone will let me know if cross-posting is frowned upon)

    After picking people's brains and getting as much advice as I could before my friend (cheerfully sporting a very non-climbing helmet in the pics below) and I did a two week vacation that took in a number of canyons, I thought I'd post a few thoughts and pics just in case anyone finds them useful!

    Benson Creek (6th August) - we followed the GPS tracklog from Road Trip Ryan but I'm not entirely sure if we were entirely on the correct route for the slog in. Whilst the guides all generally refer to some tedious bushwhacking, which we did have, we also were scrambling up some exposed rock that didn't feel right. Nevertheless, we made it to the top and found the correct drop-in for the first rap, avoiding the issue some other people have had where they've dropped in too early. The canyon itself was a blast - four fun raps in pretty quick succession, the first being both the longest and also IMO the most fun. A reasonable amount of water was flowing and as this was our first time rappelling in a watercourse it took a little bit of getting used to. Communication also becomes a little trickier when one of you struggles to hear the other above the sound of water. The final rap has a great view back out into the valley and from there it's a fairly short romp back to the car.

    Birch Hollow (7th August) - this was a mixed bag. Birch itself was quite scenic and the raps were fun. We skipped the first rap and took the bypass trail to the left (we didn't see anyone do the main rap here although some did the smaller rap to the right). Unfortunately, we timed it as the same time as Zion Guru was taking a group of around 12 (I think) boy scouts through the canyon - given the group size, they were spread across multiple rap points and even when we moved in front the relatively short distance between rap points meant we never really got far away from the din of scouts. Still, we'd read that Birch was quite commonly used by guides etc and so weren't totally surprised by this. The canyon had quite a lot of mud at the bottom of rap and a large chocolate-y pool at the bottom of the chockstone rap.

    Our original plan had been to do the Wild Wind Hollow exit but after the bushwhacking of Benson Creek we decided against this and went for the normal exit - alas, without a car shuttle. The trudge out was fairly brutal in the heat but massive kudos to Zion Guru, we were on the road south back to the trailhead when they passed us and gave us a lift for the last mile or so of road.

    Egypt 3 (8th August) - I was anxious about the Egypt Road, particularly as we'd read and been given various reports about the condition of it between Egypt 2 and Egypt 3. However, we saw regular sedans at Egypt 2 and the remaining 1.1 mile of road to Egypt 3 was no worse than anything that preceded it. No idea if that's par for the course of not. Egypt 3 itself didn't have an ounce of water in any of the potholes. We didn't do the optional rap at the end and so I've no idea if that chamber had water, but a little bit in the main canyon itself would have been nice for the variety. What variety there is seemed to be somewhat frontloaded in the canyon, with a bit of downclimbing, etc. near the beginning but then most of the remainder being simply the narrow squeeze. The hike back to the car took maybe 1.5 to 2 hours and the temperatures were as brutal as you'd expect.

    Goblin's Lair (9th August) - short and sweet. The rap station had, IIRC, a few different sets of webbing. Not a great deal to say about this one other than the fact that the chamber is pretty spectacular - I'm all ears if anyone knows any similar canyons to this.

    Tenaya Canyon (16th August) - the biggie. We started at 6.40am and finished around 9.30pm so nearly 15 hours in total. Routefinding was fine (until the canyon exit which I'll discuss later) and we knew to aim for Lone Boulder. The descent into the valley is, I believe, around 700ft and I'd been a little apprehensive about it. It actually didn't look as intimidating as I thought it might be and staying on the right slab wasn't a problem. However, I did have something of an incident - maybe 2/3 down I was perhaps a little too casual on the slab and slipped. Unfortunately, digging in my shoes and flailing out my arms did nothing to arrest my slide down the slab which was eventually broken, luckily, only maybe 30ft later by a mound of rocks. All I suffered was a lot of skin coming off my right arm. Lesson learned - don't get too casual (and maybe get better/stickier footwear).

    We were always aware of the ticking clock and so didn't spend too long at the first pool before pressing on to the inner canyon. Finding the first rap took a little while (its near a small pine) and its worth noting that 3 of the 4 rap stations have no webbing (there's a thin sling at rap point 2, the boulder). Tenaya was fun but its hard to overlook the last segment - the post-canyon hike along the creek. Staying in the creek seemed excruciatingly slow given the amount of downclimbing involved - but equally, taking the forest caused us no end of problems when we'd periodically find ourselves far too high and look for ways to get back to the creek level or thereabouts. It was pretty much dark by the time we gratefully saw the footbridge above us and, with it, easy trails back to Mirror Lake. Tenaya has some spectacular scenery and the pools are inviting but if I were doing it again I'd (1) want to find a better way of navigating the creek and forest for the last 4/5 miles, and (2) maybe consider camping near the Lost Valley or elsewhere to give more time to actually enjoy the canyon. As it was, by the time we reached the pizzeria at Half Dome Village it was actually a few mins after they stopped serving food - but thankfully a ton of kind people volunteered their leftovers to us. It meant a lot!

    Sadly only a few pics of Tenaya as my camera had a nasty encounter with a rock just after the second rap.

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    Moderator jman's Avatar
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    Cool! Thanks for sharing!

    Benson Creek can be a bit confusing your first time up starting from the lower trail-head. It sounds like you did the correct path but I don't recall too exposed of a rock section though. There are a bunch of social trails trying to climb those cliffs and its possible you took one that brought you closer to the canyon which is where that exposed section may be. But it's a neat canyon that has a few good chute raps.

    The Egypt road sounds on part from my two experiences out there too. It was fine. I'm sure it can be worse, especially after a rain event. And I've never encountered water in my descents of Egypt 3 either, so that seems on par from what I did.

    BTW - I like the black border around the pictures. It highlights them better.
    ●Canyoneering 'Canyon Conditions' @
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    "He who walks on the edge, will eventually fall."

  5. #3
    Great report!

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