Day 7

April 16, 2015

Swimming Through the Narrows of Green Spring Canyon


Click on photos to see larger image.

Today was the day both Ben and I were most concerned about.  We didn't expect it to be technically difficult, but we knew it would be really cold.  We each brought a shorty wetsuit, only 1-mm thick.  We also had large contractor bags to keep our stuff dry.  Unfortunately, the weather had turned colder, and it was mostly cloudy.  And there was a bit of a breeze.  Not good. 

We prepared our packs as well as we could, then waited until it warmed up a bit.  We got started around 9:00 AM.  Because of the roughness of the terrain, we both decided to keep our boots on when going through the pools.  My camera was packed away, so no photos were taken when moving through the pools. 

The water was absolutely freezing.  Our thin wetsuits helped while in the water, but may have actually made it worse when out of the water.  The breeze made us so cold that there were times when I could hardly talk, and we were shaking almost uncontrollably.  To make matters worse, I could barely swim with my boots on.  I have very heavy leather boots.  Ben fared better with his lighter boots.  In addition, Ben is a very good swimmer (swimming several times per week for exercise), while I haven't swum in many years.  There were a few times when I actually thought I might drown.  Eventually I took off my boots and attached them to my pack.  This helped, but I had a really hard time making any progress through the pools.  My pack floated pretty well, so I could hang on to it to keep from drowning.  I was hoping the wetsuit would provide some floatation, but it was unnoticeable, unlike the thick wetsuits I've used when Scuba diving.

When on dry land between pools, I was almost disabled by hypothermia.  At one point I wanted to stop and make a large fire (plenty of dry wood around), but Ben wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.  So we continued on.  The sun came out a couple of times, but only for a few minutes.  It felt wonderful, but it was so short lived that in the long run didn't really help. 

Exiting some of the pools required lifting packs up a few feet over the rocks.  This was exhausting, as was scrambling up the wet rocks to get out of the pools.  During this process I scraped off a lot of skin from my arms and legs, especially my knees and elbows.  But it was so cold that I didn't notice until it was all over. 

At some point I realized that one of my hiking poles was missing.  It's probably at the bottom of one of the pools.

Ben "Waterproofing" His Pack. Ben Scouting Ahead Wearing Wetsuit. Near Cottonwood Spring.


We were thrilled when we finally made it to Cottonwood Spring.  I was way out of my element today, and felt lucky to have actually made it.  We quickly got out of our wetsuits and put on dry clothes.  Some water leaked into my clothes and sleeping bag, but not enough to cause much of a problem. 

I celebrated my survival with plenty of Everclear both before and after dinner.  And instead of listening to an audio book, I listened to music.  But I quickly fell asleep, even though my Thermarest was flat.

Our Camp Near Cottonwood Spring. Cottonwood Spring Area. The Next Morning Above the Spring.


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