Slickhorn Canyon 1997
Out before 10:00 a.m.
The plan was to get up early and be under way without a lot of screwing around. We did not have a good sense of how difficult the 2.5 miles or so out of the canyon would be. Will and I get into endless debates over this sort of stuff. Will is the eternal optimist, thinking that we will be able to move thru the country quickly. I, on the other hand, tend to error on the side of caution. Probably somewhere in-between is the best approach. Anyway, Susie and I were up a tad before 6 am, packed quickly after a quick breakfast (with coffee for Susie, of course), and were under way by about 7:30 am. George and Ray were to run the car shuttle, and they were out of camp about 30 min early, about 7. Susie and I were gone before several others for a change, but were quickly passed. That aggravates Susie to no end, that we can't move faster, but it seems that she and I have pretty much adjusted to each other's hiking pace, and we just can not seem to move as fast as the others. Barbara M. had indicated that she and Will were going to wait for the sun to hit the ruins, so I figured that they would be an hour behind us. She indicated that if they were not there, to bury the key for the little car for them and they would see us in ABQ. I figured that as usual, Will would time it perfectly, and walk up to the cars just as we were ready to go.
The walk out was lovely, but somewhat more challenging than I had expected. There were a few big pour-offs to negotiate, and in one place, Susie and I went right, when we should have worked left. We got stuck in some major boulders that required maybe 15 - 20 min to pass thru. We had to be careful, because we got up high on some poor footing, with maybe a 15 foot drop. At another place, we ended up taking off our packs, and I handed them up to Susie, to get up a particularly difficult jump. And then, at the very last portion, it took me 3 tries to get up the last few steps to get out of the actual canyon. Points out the fact that a 6 - 8 foot discontinuity can be all it takes.
Anyway, it took us just about 2 hrs 10 min to get out. It was obvious that we had been vastly slower than the others, because by the time we got to the road (100 meters or so beyond the gettin' out spot), the crew had all the vehicles unloaded, and had Will and Barb's stuff moved into the mini-van. So there seemed to be no question if we would wait for our trip mates. That was OK with me sort of, but it probably would have been better to wait for everyone to get out. On the other hand, if they decide they want to stay an extra bit, then they would have to do so on their own. Group trips always involve some sort of compromise, but my goal is to always keep such to a minimum. We left the takeout spot at about 9:45 am, and had a very uneventful ride back to ABQ. Turns out W&B were not too far behind us, so Susie and I get the slowpoke awards.
Had a nice dinner at Garduno's up on Academy, and back home to bed soon, so I could get up early and go to Caracas. Not a great way to end a great vacation, but I am glad that Susie could stay and have brunch in Old Town.
Some summary thoughts on the trip: This was one of the best canyon trips in years. The weather was pretty good, the scenery was interesting and varied. The hiking had a nice mix of challenge and ease. The campsites were pretty good, but not outstanding, The company was delightful, and there were not too many conflicts. I think that some members of the group sorta grit there teeth at W&B doing their own thing so much, but maybe I have learned to accept it over the years. I do not claim that all these group trips are easy, but there seem to be so few conflicts, relative to most group adventures that I hear of. And many of this crew have been doing the joint trips for 17 years now. Sorta amazing.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 1997, 2006; Photo of Roger climbing © Suzanne A. McDonald, 2006