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Trip Report: Notes From Narrow Places, Sept. '06 (Day 2)

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Journal Entry 2: Iím beginning to wonder whether my approach to life in the desert hasnít been too cavalier. Does danger lurk underfoot, ready to strike without warning? Are we destined to suffer an unexpected and painful death? Should we all live in constant fear and suspicion?
No. Rattlesnakes are generally shy and fearful of humans and will not strike unless provoked. Some would caution that obtaining this basic understanding of snake behavior, then using this knowledge to simply step around the snake rather than step right on his head, is tantamount to Ďappeasementí. That logic is freaking loony-toons. In reality, this poor little guy was too cold to even muster a half hearted rattle, even though three members of our group stepped directly over him without even realizing it (footprints in the sand 6 inches on either side of the snake attested to this fact). I believe this snake is a Hopi Rattlesnake, which is a subspecies of the Prairie Rattlesnake.
 
The group makes its way over hill and dale, sand dune and slick rock to the canyon of the day, Choprock. From the rim it can be seen that recent rains have filled the canyon to the brim with silty, brown runoff. Since dirty water isnít really a good subject for a photo, hereís a nice tree instead.
 
We enter the canyon and it soon becomes deeply entrenched and very pretty. Ram, though he had been through the canyon some 16 times in the past, was made somewhat uneasy by the fact that water levels were higher than he had ever seen them (or perhaps it was the fact that this was his first time through since an unfortunate event that had occurred in the canyon earlier that year).
 
There are three sections to the canyon, the Riparian Section, the Happy Section, the Work Section and the Grim Section. The Happy Section is so sunny and delightful, I could have sworn I saw the figures below holding hands and skipping through the canyon.
La ... la la ... la laaa. 
 
Hereís Bruce, still happy.
 
Getting darker and less happy (though they are still smiling).
 
A bit more grimness.
 
And weíre grim.
You can see why this canyon can be challenging. Log jams periodically clog these tight sections making progress difficult. Fortunately, on this day, we were able to duck under most of the obstructions. The water, though brown, was fresh from recent rains and had a pleasant pine scent (seriously).
In case you were wondering, the lens flare in the above photo is a fake. I added it to hide the fact that the top part of the photo is overexposed. Of course, itís also possible this entire trip report was done in Photoshop (or in my case Paint Shop Pro). Cyber Canyoneering just might be the future of the sport, and it offers the added attraction that it can be done in your underwear.
 
We make it through the log jams and bark soup before the canyons begins to widen again. One fun little activity that can be done when the canyon is full of water is to remove any logs or rocks stopping up a pool to release the flood. Ram gets quite a few pools flowing using this technique.
 
Dave wanted me to get some good photos of him to show his mom. Hi Mrs. P!
 
We arrive at the final rap and are soon back in the land of the living.
Thunder began within 30 minutes of this photo, and we learned later from some hikers that the canyon flashed later that day. Were we lucky? No, thereís no such thing. Because clouds build in the afternoon, we got an early start and moved at a reasonable pace through the canyon so that we were out before the rains began.
 
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