Putting the "cat" in Alcatraz Canyon

1:30 AM and we are driving down a dusty desert road.  The music has been turned down to an imperceptible volume to help us accurately track our mileage.

 Rapping out of the pothole.  Photo: Craig Armstrong

Rapping out of the pothole.  Photo: Craig Armstrong

24.5 and then turn right.  7.1 miles later, turn right again. Take a slight left 0.1. miles after that. Follow this road 6.6 miles and make another right. 0.5 miles later, stay left and 2.5 miles later keep an eye out for the canyon.

After we felt that we were sufficiently lost in Robber's Roost, the road emptied onto a wide patch of slickrock.  200' later, the road ended.  This was not a case of the road subtly coming to an end with a posted sign; the road ended with a 120' drop into the start of Alcatraz Canyon.  We set up camp nearby and rested up for our adventure the following day.

Saturday morning, we drove the truck up to the edge of the road, blocked off the tires, set up a rappel from the frame of the truck and dropped into the canyon.  We meant to get some pictures, but just before we dropped in, about 40 people in ATV's and trucks rolled up and the cats were nervous from all the loud machines and people nearby.  Once we made it down into the canyon, we moved quickly until the ATVs and drones were out of earshot and then took a moment to relax.

 Stemming down with Kenneth Photo: Craig  Armstrong

Stemming down with Kenneth Photo: Craig  Armstrong

Alcatraz Canyon is known for the tight constrictions occasional difficult or technical sections.  We encountered a few small pools, but no water that was too deep to easily avoid.  Kenneth did a great job staying calm on my shoulders as we crossed these pools.  For the constrictions, sometimes Kenneth would hang on to me as I shimmied through, other times, if I could see the floor below, he would walk through the narrows down low as I would climb up higher where I fit a bit easier.  Of course, I always kept him on leash when I was even remotely worried that there was an area he could access that would be too small for me.

On the hike out, we employed our usual tricks which involve moving quickly between patches of shade in order to make sure that Kenneth and Millie were not overheated or overexerted.  we got back to the trailhead and our truck at 7:30pm - 8 hours after we initially dropped in.

Sunday was a legitimate rest day. We stopped at a neat patch of sand dunes to explore, but after about 20 minutes on the dunes, both Kenneth and Millie wanted to head back to the truck.  Although I have really enjoyed the solitude that we have had on the last few weekends, it was nice to run into a few friendly folks and trade stories and information for other neat areas to explore.

I am extremely grateful to have such open and like-minded partners for Kenneth and me in Craig and Millie.  Every weekend, the 4 of us are chomping at the bit to get out and explore somewhere new.  The pacing and agenda is always the same; keep the focus on the cats and do everything we can to help them explore and have an interesting day.  The cuddles that I get from Kenneth in the tent and now at home reflect how close the two of us have become.  I know that Craig and Millie also share an incredibly strong bond.  I cannot wait for more.