Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ding and Dang Canyon

(By Steve) A few months before our trip I mentioned to a coworker that I was spending a week in Moab.   Being a Utah native, he had several good suggestions of places to visit.   One of the best places he recommended was Ding and Dang Canyon.  He took his sons there on a Boy Scout trip.   He said that if my daughters were in good shape then they could do it.   I gave them the option and Alyssa quickly accepted.  Alyssa had to prod Shanan, but she did agree to come. There is no way Linda in her current state, or the little kids, could have done it.   

Right away we knew that this was not like Little Wild Horse
The parking area is only about a mile West of the more famous Little Wild Horse Canyon.   These canyons are similar in look to Wild Horse but much, much harder.  This area is part of the San Rafael Swell, a geographically unique part of the world.

The rock walls were all striped
The parking area is one mile from the entrance to the Ding Canyon.   You have the option to go into one and back the other, vice versa, or to go up and back just one canyon.   The entrances to the Canyons are about half to three quarters a mile from each other.  We chose the recommended path of hiking up Ding canyon and back down Dang canyon.  In hindsight, we are VERY glad that went with this plan.   The total hike is 7 miles.  
I nearly fell on my back climbing up this boulder
The hike up Ding was challenging but totally doable.   There were some large boulders that we had to climb over, but nothing that needed ropes.   Dang canyon had some places that were similar to Little Wild Horse with the tight fits through the rock.  Unlike Little Wild Horse, it was steeper.  

What a fun place to hike
It gets pretty tight
Towards the end of Dang canyon it widens out to an area with deep muddy pools.   There was one place in this section where it was just too risky to get through so we had to backtrack and climb up the sides, and then work our way back down to the 'trail'.   The canyon walls are other worldly with round shapes carved in them. At the end of Dang canyon it completely opens up and the trail follows an ATV trail.    There is a about 1.25 miles of walking in the open desert until the North entrance to Dang canyon.  The trails are not really marked so it takes some basic navigation skills to not get lost.  Between the canyons is strange shaped Ding Dang rock; it is not hard to miss finding this strange rock 

Deep potholes in the rocks
Mosquito breeding grounds
We had to go up and over the canyon walls to get around one dangerous spot
The rock walls were other worldly
The Ding Dang rock
The entrance to Dang Canyon begins innocently enough, but soon gets technical.   There is one spot where you can attach ropes if you have them and rappel down.   We easily scaled the grooved walls and got around the obstacle.   The canyon continued to be difficult in a fun way.   The girls were challenged and surprised themselves with what they could do.  There was at least one place where I had to drop about 2 feet farther than I was comfortable with.   One rock had ropes that someone had left for climbing up and down.  Dang Canyon is steeper and wider than Ding canyon.   It would be much harder to be going up Dang than down it.

The top of a large drop at the beginning of Dang canyon
We went down the grooved walls to get around a big drop
The big drop that we went around from the bottom
The whole time we had hiked, we hadn't seen a single soul.   However, about 2/3 of the was back through Dang, we came upon two groups of people.   The first group was about 5-6 younger people with gear going up Dang canyon.  They were nice enough to help us down a particularly steep section.   The other group was a couple in their 60's who were going the same direction as us.   They were having a rough go of it and  clearly were regretting their decision to hike these canyons. 

This was a fun challenge
I would rather be here than Disney World
We would have managed, but it was nice for someone to have left this rope
I had to jump down here, so I could help the girls down
The last hard section was a narrow that was full of three feet of water.   I was carrying a camera and video camera that I really needed to keep dry.  One from the group of younger people advised that if I wanted, I could stem across the whole water-filled section.   I decided to try it, and it was far easier than I expected.  I didn't get wet at all.   The girls however were too short to do that, and they had to wade through it carrying their shoes.

The people we met took our photo
I stemmed across the sides of this wet section, but the girls had to wade.
After we made it through that, it opened up, and we had about a mile and half to hike back to our car.  It was an amazing experience, and I can't wait to do it again!!  

We conquered Dang canyon, but my shorts were ripped in three places.  Thus, the demise of another pair of shorts!  See the result of having a desk job after fulltiming for over a year.
I thought this gnarly tree was beautiful.  Being in the middle of a canyon, this tree has been subject to many flash floods and survived.

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