Court was In Session on Saturday when Yuri, Edmund and myself made a canyoneering descent of a new creek. Yuri and I have ascended the same drainage before and had an idea what to expect from glimpses you get of the creek as you hike up the trail and that was about it. The hike in was about how we remembered it but at a few different points we had to stop to recall our memories and consider our options. We stayed on the trail - an old logging rail grade turned forest service trail that has since been decommissioned decades ago - and as it started the steep final climb up we pondered our options for heading back down to the creek. This canyon does not offer any clear entry point or waterfall rappel, instead it is more a matter of how far you want to go up the watershed before you go back down again. We went up a fair way, there were no more than 750 vertical feet above us and the creek was starting to get rather narrow, and decided that was far enough. It was ripe with small cascades and waterfalls and no matter where we started it looked very good.
We suited up and started down the creek at noon on the dot. It had taken us several hours to hike up the trail and we were expecting a four hour descent over technical terrain. There were four rappels along the way, but none over sixty feet, and nothing too hard. But lots of surprises. Without Joe present to slow us down we took the opportunity to ghost this canyon. We rigged the rappels such that we left nothing behind and had minimal impact on the environment.
A funny episode occurred towards the end of the descent. I had been using Edmunds old rope bag for my rope which was less than ideal and after more than two hours of slowly descending the drainage carrying around the rope bag was beginning to become a burden at times. So, I decided to throw the bag and rope a short distance a few times. I had a hunch this was in bad form and was a bad idea but I did it anyway. At the top of a small waterfall I tossed the bag 15' down into a foot of water before I slid the waterfall. By the time I got to the bottom the bag had slid off the rock a little deeper into the small pool. No big deal, all I would have to do is wade into the pool and pick the bag up, except when I went into the pool I couldn't touch the bottom and found myself treading water instead of locating the rope bag. The rope was down there somewhere and we had to find it. We wasted a good bit of time attempting to locate the rope bag with sticks before I finally sucked it up, got in the pool and started diving trying to find the bag. It was a cold, deep pool and after a few futile blind dives trying to feel for the bag with my feet and hands I realized I would have to open my eyes and look around when I was down there. So I dived again and looked around. Nothing. I went down once more and there at the deepest part of the pool - ten feet or so down - there was the blue rope bag waiting for me.
With that behind us it was just more of the same old east coast canyoneering. We had been in the creek for hours and now that I was freezing cold from my swimming for the rope I was getting tired. It was very slippery and I slipped and fell three times in very short order and things stopped being quite as fun. But the end was in sight and after the final waterfall the creek leveled out and we called it good enough. In Session was another excellent canyon!