Into Dark Canyon

Nethos

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2017
Messages
136
April 17-22nd.

Some friends and I went into Dark Canyon, hoping to complete Steve Allen's loop from Canyoneering 2.

We camped at the trailhead on an incredibly windy night, finding shelter behind some slickrock overlooking Lost Canyon.

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I found some scat full of juniper berries near my site. First to identify gets my internet points.

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Obligatory Sundance trail overlook shot.

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We reached the last point to grab water without issue, and loaded up. I will keep the exit canyon photos and traverse to myself to maintain some of the mystery, but anyone can DM me. I found Allen's the right amount of information that things are clear enough while still engaging. We reached the terrace above Dark, enjoyed dinner, and discussed whether or not to continue.

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The traverse and the route up to the terrace is long and difficult. I am impressed with anyone that can complete Day 2 of this traverse as described without it being type 3 fun.

We made a difficult decision to turn around and enjoy a more relaxing, type 1 fun trip. We were struggling, not with the navigation or energy necessarily, but with maintaining a strong enough pace to beat our water supply while leaving ourselves an out if the crux proved too much. Trust Steve when he says this is arduous, it is. I find myself once again incredibly impressed with his will and commitment to step out here with the amount of supplies he did, working on these routes.

The next morning we turned around and headed back into Dark back the way we came. The limestone pools in Dark are incredible, and unlike any of the other canyons I have traveled in. The rest of trip was spent exploring Dark, Lean To, and Youngs. The wildflowers were still in pretty good bloom.

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Above the big dryfall in Lean To.
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Sunset in Lean To
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Endless pools up Dark

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Flox in Bloom
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Big pool below a large pouroff high in Lean To

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Approaching Lean To

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Paintbrush in Dark

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Endless waterfalls
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Snowbrush I believe.

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Desert Prince's Plume

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Mojave Mound Cactus

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Youngs

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Looking down Youngs
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Heading down Dark

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Sunset looking out the mouth of Lost

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Evening Primrose

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Sunrise hike out amidst primrose

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Sunrise at the top of the Sundance

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I look forward to getting back into this area and exploring more of the plateau and surrounding canyons.

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regehr

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Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,840
love the pics and there's absolutely nothing wrong with turning an ironman trip into an easier one if you're not feeling it!
 

Nethos

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Feb 23, 2017
Messages
136
love the pics and there's absolutely nothing wrong with turning an ironman trip into an easier one if you're not feeling it!
Certainly not. And no point in trying one if you aren't willing to change your plans.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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jholmes01

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Nov 10, 2020
Messages
145
We attempted the same loop in November 2009, starting from the Sundance TH at first light. We made it all the way to the Crux, exhausted and with light fading at the end of a very long first day. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, we were one ledge too high. There was no way we were making the move that appeared to be required for Allen's "crawl". I see that @fossana subsequently made that crossing. She's far braver and a much better climber than us. I just wish I knew then that we were simply on a ledge 20' or 30' too high.

We backed off to a nice flat area and spent the night, returning to the foot of the Sundance Trail the next day. From there, we spent several days exploring the lower canyons of Dark. Despite not pulling off the loop as planned, this is still one of my best trips ever.

Thanks for bring back the memories. Glad you guys made the most of it as well.
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Nethos

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Joined
Feb 23, 2017
Messages
136
We attempted the same loop in November 2009, starting from the Sundance TH at first light. We made it all the way to the Crux, exhausted and with light fading at the end of a very long first day. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, we were one ledge too high. There was no way we were making the move that appeared to be required for Allen's "crawl". I see that @fossana subsequently made that crossing. She's far braver and a much better climber than us. I just wish I knew then that we were simply on a ledge 20' or 30' too high.

We backed off to a nice flat area and spent the night, returning to the foot of the Sundance Trail the next day. From there, we spent several days exploring the lower canyons of Dark. Despite not pulling off the loop as planned, this is still one of my best trips ever.

Thanks for bring back the memories. Glad you guys made the most of it as well.
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That is an impressive first day. If I went back, it's definitely what I would prepare for mentally and physically.

Thanks for sharing your photos and experience.

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canadug

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Nov 26, 2015
Messages
83
We spent a bunch of days in there and what a fabulous spot! Thanks for all the great pictures.
 

Kullaberg63

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Mar 6, 2014
Messages
558
Really nice pics!

I’ve said this before, but here is it again: from water in Dark to water in Midway via the Crawl is the single hardest day of desert hiking I’ve done. The Crawl to Midway is even big in itself!
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Feb 3, 2017
Messages
862
Solid work and great TR! Loved the cactus and the paintbrush shots.
 

Nethos

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2017
Messages
136
Really nice pics!

I’ve said this before, but here is it again: from water in Dark to water in Midway via the Crawl is the single hardest day of desert hiking I’ve done. The Crawl to Midway is even big in itself!
Yes. Having been up to the terrace, I don't doubt you at all. And you with a packraft no less!


When I go back, I would try to manage the difficulty somehow, starting predawn on Sundance to make it further on Day 1, carrying more water for peace of mind, attempting @fossana ramp route to stay near the water for longer, going earlier in the season, and probably bringing mostly waterless food for the first few days. Probably some combo of all that.

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fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
Messages
659
Beautiful time of year to be there. Glad I wasn't the only one that overshot the Allen crawl by ~25 vertical feet. It was definitely Type II fun getting through it.
 

John Morrow

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Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
920
Really nice pics!

I’ve said this before, but here is it again: from water in Dark to water in Midway via the Crawl is the single hardest day of desert hiking I’ve done. The Crawl to Midway is even big in itself!
That's saying something....
 

WasatchWill

Ready For More
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Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,651
Always good to have options to fall back on. Looks like it was an amazing trip nonetheless.
 
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