Southern Baptist Canyon, San Rafael Swell

Nick

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Aug 9, 2007
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12,934
After the fun, but long day we had in the Lower Black Box, we did a little re-thinking of how we wanted to spend the rest of our weekend in the Swell. Our original plan was to do the Upper Black Box next, but after spending such a long day in the lower box, something different seemed in order. So we dropped gnwatts off at his car at Sinkhole Flat and made our way south of I-70 to spend the night. Our target the next day: Southern Baptist Canyon.

Southern Baptist is a tributary of Upper Chute Canyon and is named Southern Baptist because it has been mistaken for the more well known Baptist Draw on more than one occasion. The trailhead is out on the end of a mesa, due east of McKay Flat. There are about 4 rappels and a lot of downclimbs, the largest rappel is less than 100 feet. All anchors are natural so be prepared to build your own if you head out this way. Here is a map with my GPS tracks:

[parsehtml]
<iframe width="930" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;oe=UTF8&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=214533597045798101523.0004ca405f763a050b55f&amp;start=0&amp;num=200&amp;t=p&amp;ll=38.687721,-110.791583&amp;spn=0.020099,0.039868&amp;z=15&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small>View <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;oe=UTF8&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=214533597045798101523.0004ca405f763a050b55f&amp;start=0&amp;num=200&amp;t=p&amp;ll=38.687721,-110.791583&amp;spn=0.020099,0.039868&amp;z=15&amp;source=embed" style="text-align:left">Southern Baptist Canyon - Backcountrypost.com</a> in a larger map</small>
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[/parsehtml]Thanks to the mediocre beta we were working with, it took us a bit of troubleshooting to find the correct trailhead, but we eventually made it and set out for the canyon. The views down into Chute Canyon and on to the reef are awesome out there. This would be a killer area to camp.
southern-baptist-canyon-1.jpg


After descending the mesa, we skipped past the first draw and started down into Southern Baptist. If you go down the first one, you miss all the good stuff.
southern-baptist-canyon-2.jpg


The canyon slots up instantly. At first it was a shallow play slot and then it moved onto some seriously tight and twisted narrows. I had to take my pack off and scoot sideways in one spot.
southern-baptist-canyon-3.jpg


drclef on one of the many fun down-climbs in Southern Baptist Canyon
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neiloro
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I found this interesting little trinket at the bottom of the first rappel.
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The newly-engaged couple, lostlandscapes and drclef :)
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After another small rappel, we found ourselves in a very unique place. The watercourse cut through this tiny natural bridge, into a giant pothole and then down nearly 160 feet. That's neiloro going for the first rap down.
southern-baptist-canyon-9.jpg


Waiting for Nilauro to get down. The 160 feet was divided into two raps, one 60-70 footer and then one around 90 feet. There was a ledge between the two where we were able to re-rig.
southern-baptist-canyon-10.jpg


Tim coming down the first stage of the rappel.
southern-baptist-canyon-11.jpg


And this is Tim at the bottom of the second stage. Check out the video below to see what's in between all of this.
southern-baptist-canyon-12.jpg


A video from the core of the canyon. My apologies for the shakiness. Still trying to figure out how best to use this GoPro thingamajig!

After the big rap, we took a break for lunch and packed up our technical gear. Little did we know there was still plenty of fun down-climbing to do! Here's Tim showing his 'doh face!
southern-baptist-canyon-13.jpg


A couple drops later, we hit this fun one. It was filled with rotten, stinky, slippery mud at the bottom and it was steeply sloped, so if you stepped anywhere around it, you would slip into the middle. Most of us tried to stem all the way over it, but it widened up a bit too much on the far end.
southern-baptist-canyon-15.jpg


Mandy had almost made it and fell butt-first down into the slop. You have no idea how bad that stuff smelled! :eek:
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Tim dropping into yet another pool that reeked of death and feces. It's like fun but... :)
southern-baptist-canyon-17.jpg


Nilauro in the stinky pool.
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Soon after that last pool, the canyon connected with Upper Chute Canyon and we were treated to a very long, beatiful stretch of deep narrows.
southern-baptist-canyon-19.jpg


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Awww... sorry, I wouldn't normally post this, but you newly-engaged people sure are cute sometimes! Haha!
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The canyon opens as we approached our exit canyon.
southern-baptist-canyon-23.jpg


The exit canyon was a bit different than we anticipated. The beta we had said to 'walk 30 minutes up canyon' then climb out at the place where there is an intersecting canyon on both sides. Well, it turns out that was more like an hour up canyon, and there was no such side canyon. There was a cairn that led to the foot of a solid 5th class climbing route out of the canyon. Ummm.. no. So we went a little further and found an upper 4th class scramble to the rim. It was a bit dicey here and there but overall not too bad. It was a good lesson in crappy beta, along with a few other things on this trip.
southern-baptist-canyon-24.jpg


We travelled overland back to the truck, largely skipping our previous route down from the mesa. We sat in the shade of my Tacoma and savored a cold beer while looking over the San Rafael Swell, before packing it up and heading back to reality.
southern-baptist-canyon-25.jpg


Along the road back to McKay flat, we ran into an amazing scene. There must have been at least 40 wild horses. We drove along them at first, admiring their freedom as they ran around the open plains.
southern-baptist-canyon-26.jpg


Eventually it was too much and we stopped the truck, got back out and savored the scene. It would have been nice to have my SLR and long lens on, but this still captures a bit of what it was like. Truly unforgettable...
southern-baptist-canyon-27.jpg


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lostlandscapes

rope mule
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
328
Very, very nice man. I didn't find the GoPro footage to be too shaky whatsoever. I'm also really impressed with the quality that you're able to pull out of your P&S, especially in the lower-light scenarios.

All-in-all, it was a lovely canyon. I wouldn't hesitate to get in there again, this time knowing the slog out will be, well, a slog. That was some beautiful terrain we moved through.
 

Tyler

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
464
AWESOME. This has to make it onto my "to do" list in the swell. It's almost like a "newly discovered" canyon in an area I really like and it looks fun an adventurous.

What was the total time of the trip?
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,934
Tyler - it took us about 7 hours if I recall. The beta suggested it as a short 3-5 hours but the guy who wrote it seems to be a very, very fast hiker. Despite his website being called 'Average Joe's', his time estimates are far from what an average person would do it in. We moved pretty efficiently through the canyon to hit that time although we definitely could have sped things up a bit on the big rap if we were already familiar with it.

If you ever head out this way, bring a ton of webbing and rapides. Just the rigging for the last two raps could eat up 50 feet or more if you had to replace it.
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,934
Very, very nice man. I didn't find the GoPro footage to be too shaky whatsoever. I'm also really impressed with the quality that you're able to pull out of your P&S, especially in the lower-light scenarios.

All-in-all, it was a lovely canyon. I wouldn't hesitate to get in there again, this time knowing the slog out will be, well, a slog. That was some beautiful terrain we moved through.

Thanks, Tim. I agree, it was an extraordinarily beautiful hike. The only bummer was expecting it to be half as long and wishing I'd had about 3 more liters of water. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I can't help but wonder if there were two vehicles if it wouldn't be funner/easier to just continue up the exit canyon to the other road?
 

Howells Outdoors

Adventure is my middle name...actually it's Keith.
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
444
Very awesome photos and TR! I did this canyon two years ago and it was awesome!
 

Rick Thompson

Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
6
Nice TR and photos, haven't done this drop in variation, will have to try it. The exit loop out south like you did is scenic but a bit of a go, as you found out. If time is a factor the north loop up Chute and out is much easier, shorter and thus faster.
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
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12,934
Nice TR and photos, haven't done this drop in variation, will have to try it. The exit loop out south like you did is scenic but a bit of a go, as you found out. If time is a factor the north loop up Chute and out is much easier, shorter and thus faster.

I was not a fan of the exit we took. Do you know about where the exit up canyon in Chute is?
 

Blake Merrell

Life Elevated - Rising Higher
Joined
Feb 25, 2013
Messages
596
Can't wait to do this hike. I will be down in this area again next month. If I get the time I hope to do this route! thanks for the TR!
 

Devin A.

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
12
This looks like something I need to go do! Also, in my 13 years of climbing, i've never seen someone rap off of a quicklink on the belay loop.
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
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This looks like something I need to go do! Also, in my 13 years of climbing, i've never seen someone rap off of a quicklink on the belay loop.


It's good fun. If you're just getting into canyoneering, I'd put this one way down the list though. Lots of canyons with a much higher bang-to-buck ratio. As for the link on the belay loop, that is not all that uncommon in canyoneering. Some people use it to extend their device for easier braking. I was using it to rotate my descender a half turn because the belay loop on my harness was not the desired orientation for the descender I was using.
 

Devin A.

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
12
It's good fun. If you're just getting into canyoneering, I'd put this one way down the list though. Lots of canyons with a much higher bang-to-buck ratio. As for the link on the belay loop, that is not all that uncommon in canyoneering. Some people use it to extend their device for easier braking. I was using it to rotate my descender a half turn because the belay loop on my harness was not the desired orientation for the descender I was using.
Makes sense, I guess I am used to seeing a PAS girth hitched around the hard points of the harness to get the device away. I think it's time for me to start doing some descending into canyons as well as my addiction to clipping bolts up a wall.
 
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