Western American slot canyons are spectacular. I have seen photographs; you probably have seen photographs. I wanted to see one myself.
Canyoneering simply means exploring canyons. But to the adventurous, it often involves remote locations, rappelling and swimming as well as hiking.
However, we are not going to rappel into a canyon. My body isn’t up to it. Alie has had rheumatoid arthritis for 47 years. But I really wanted to see one.
Utah and Arizona have wonderful slot canyons (very narrow passages) to explore. They are formed by rushing water cutting through the rock. But the flash floods that cut those slots can also kill. Sometimes the rain is so far away hikers are not even aware it is happening.
Eleven tourists were killed in Arizona’s Lower Antelope Canyon in 1997. Seven hikers died in Utah’s Keyhole Canyon last year. The best defense is to check weather reports before going exploring. Failing that, climb as high and as fast as you can.
When we reached Page, Arizona, we signed up for one of the many tours of Upper Antelope Canyon. We chose it simply because it involved fewer stairs for Alie than Lower Antelope Canyon. We were not aware of the 1997 deaths.
Upper Antelope Canyon is in the Navajo Nation, requires a permit and one can only see it with a guide. Our tour guide was aware of the dangers and explained them to us even though there was no rain in the area. With him along, it became merely a stroll down a sandy path.
But it was so wonderful. These photos do not do it justice. You have to see it for yourself.
Click on photos to enlarge.