Canyon Tales
Another Ram Moment
by Dave Pimental

TR — Davis Gulch ... brought to you by “The Original.”

• May 16, 2007 •

Originally the plan was to duck into the first narrows to escape the midday sun, but when we ended up going in it was with the intention of doing the first two narrows. Then we would reverse the canyon in order to avoid an overland death march which results from completing the entire canyon. We would miss much of the canyon, but we only had a half day and would see the best of the athletic narrows. The canyon slots up immediately after entering the wash from the car–spot. The heat is in the 90s but we have adjusted over the last few days. Though the sweat runs freely and stings the eyes, we are not broiling.

The first narrows is shallow and fun, with a few downclimbs through sculpted corners and a little shade to cool the situation. After a couple hundred yards we break out into the shallow sandy bowl which marks the end of first and beginning of the second narrows. We are broiling now! The full sun and sand of the bowl is acting like a giant furnace. Heads bowed, sweat dripping off the end of our noses, we hightail it to the shade of the next narrows. We pause briefly to wipe the sting from our squinting eyes and slurp generous quantities of life–giving water, then we’re on our way down into the second narrows. The second narrows is more entrenched, the walls higher. The shade is exquisite. The view of the sky above slims down to a mere slit and the canyon drops a little faster.

This is where we should come to the small drops we are expecting. We are carrying short ropes and webbing to fix hand–lines at any drops that don’t look partner assistable for the return. Perhaps there will be some wading. Sure enough, the next drop has some water at the bottom. Ram goes first to test the water for me. It’s belly deep for him. That means chest for me. Okay, down the downclimb, slither into the water while removing my pack and dash across with the pack held high overhead. No problem.

There’s another little bit of wading and then the next downclimb into a pool. This one looks deeper and goes off out of sight around the bend. Ram goes first again. He’s calling out the depth as he goes.

“Waist,” he says, then, “Chest.” And then “Oop, swimming,” and he’s paddling around the corner.

“Aw, Ram!” I yell, “I’m not PREPARED for this.”


“I don’t have a drybag for my ciggs!”

I KNOW this will get his attention. Let it be known and clearly understood that I swim like a stone and have an extreme aversion to being cold. So maybe I was avoiding the little swim more than your average person. I hear Ram say “Smoke a couple and then leave them behind,” and then more splashing.

“Where are you going!” I’m near panic now, my voice an octave higher. Thinking of parting with my precious smokes does that to me.

Calmly he calls back, “Just moving out of the water. You have a smoke and come along or I’ll just come back,” and begins answering back to a raven that has noticed that we are in her canyon.

Of course, his calm and soothing tone ENRAGES me. The raven squawking is getting on my nerves! I’m pacing and blowing smoke like a bellows. I’m determined not to let this little puddle turn us back from finishing the second narrows, but I know darned well that, if I swim across, I’ll have to swim back.

Here it is: it’s gotta be 92°F and I’m grumbling about a little swim and nicotine withdrawal with only 20 minutes of canyon left to do.

That’s it! I’m GOING on! I grab some stuff out of my pack and stick it on a pitiful, damp sandbar. I keep my waterbottle for floatation and my sandwich because of the raven. Though my lunch will surely be soaked, I don’t want her poking at my gear while I’m gone.

I snub out my butt and plunge in. The cold water takes my breath away and I dimly hear Ram say, “Breathe,” while I thrash across the tiny little pool. When my feet hit bottom I start running. As soon as I hit dry land, I hunker down into a fetal position and start violently shivering. Ram has an amazed look on his face. He had heard me say over the years how I can’t stand being cold but he had never witnessed ANYTHING like this. I get up and start running down canyon.

As I scramble down the canyon, bashing into the walls with reckless abandon, I hear Ram say something like, “Yeah, yeah, good ... Get moving,” but I’m already gone. We dash through a bit more water and, shortly later, make our way out of the second narrows to a wonderful sunny spot in a sheltered alcove. Throughout that last bit, Ram had sweat dripping still, while I shivered in discomfort. I lay against the rock and suck up its stored heat. At other times the rock would be too hot to touch. Right then, it was just perfect.

Ram begins messing with his rope, and I ask what he’s doing. “I’m stacking the rope in my pack for the return,” he says as he expertly undoes a mountaineer’s coil. He passes the rope through the chin strap of his helmet and, after a moment of thought, clips his pack to a daisy chain on his waist to aid the stuffing of the rope. Just as he begins to stuff the rope hand–over–hand into his pack, he glances at me with a grin and says, “I’m surprised I am doing this without a hitch.” But he has spoken too soon and he’s stuffing the wrong end of the rope into the pack so that the end soon comes through his hand and drops to the ground. The look on his face says, “I knew it! I knew something would happen!” and I can’t help busting out laughing. I mean really belly laughing.

Ram seems to find some solace in my uncontrolled hilarity and figures, “Well, at least I made a freezing person laugh.” We scrapped and scrambled and partner assisted our way back up the canyon. Did our few wades and the short swim and, of course, wound up back at the vehicles without a trace of chill and little memory of the ‘hardship’ endured. It was certainly another ‘Ram day,’ brought to me by ‘The Original.’

Wyoming Dave
May 24, 2007

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© 2007 Dave Pimental