Frozen Legs in Yankee Doodle Hollow

I typically don’t do wet canyons which is why I shoot for B rated canyons at maximum. However, Yankee Doodle Hollow had a rep: beautiful photos, RoadTripRyan listed it as A/B and a wonderful slot canyon style not typically seen outside Canyonlands or Moab. Unfortunately, we really underestimated what winter + a rain event four days prior would mean. The canyon was great, but an adventure that sent me plunging into thigh-waist high water which was coated with surface ice.

Yankee Doodle Descent

At a lovely 55 degrees north of St. George, UT the trip started off innocently enough with a great overhung rappel into the canyon. Adventure Sausage Piton Skiles was joining us on this ‘beginner friendly’ canyon. The first rappel was off a tree sling near the mouth.

Inside the canyon was beautiful, water eroded, curved sandstone. Our second rappel was shortly after the first off chains down another beautiful drop ending in a pool of water that gulped my rope on the throw. However, we easily friction rappelled left to avoid it.

Looking down towards Rap #2
The amazing rappel

We hiked through the canyon, underneath a boulder tunnel and reached a third optional rappel down into a stem-able slot. There were several pools in it that took a decent amount of butt and back scooching to work our way horizontally across to keep out of the water. (avoiding water is half the fun of canyoneering)

However, we soon realized these slot canyons were ALL full of water… We became more and more creative in our steming technique as we descended deeper.

Feel the Freeze

We stemmed around another section after our second optional rappel until we reached a beautiful, wide, water filled slot. I tried about everything to use my lank to get across a bulbous curve: friction rappelling, hands and feet on opposite sides of the walls, etc. However, I had to relent and go into the ice crusted, brown murky water; wading through water that reached my mid-thigh. Luckily, my rope twisted when pulling it through the small quick link. I had the honor of wading across the pool two more times to free and retrieve it.

Sadie and Piton looking forward through the pretty canyon, past the bulbous wide pool immediately in front.
The first plunge

Already quite wet, we picked up speed. No longer stemming through the pools. The water down-canyon was much clearer which was nice since water catches can collect all sorts of gross stuff. However, we had to wade across water up to the thigh and once up to the waist a few more times.

Our puppy was a trooper, but when we started getting nervous about going too far down the canyon, passing the exit he started whining. Getting a little cold himself.

Finally, we saw the ‘tree with exposed roots’ landmark and found our slickrock escape back to the main road. It was a laughably fun adventure where we underestimated the short canyon. However, the canyon’s beauty and stemming dynamic more than made up for the frigid water with cardboard thick ice on the surface in our memories of the 2.5 hrs adventure.

Exit tree on left, our exit was straight ahead up the slick rock.