Wednesday 10/11 and Thursday 10/12: Imlay Canyon has a reputation for being tough ’Äì it's long, has lots of rappels and downclimbing,
has lots of cold water, and has many potential keeper potholes (oh boy!) that might require team climbing, pack tosses, hooking, or even
drilling to escape. Because of the limited daylight, we decided we didn't even want to try the shorter "Sneak and Peek" route (4B IV) in a
single day. We decided to do the approach hike on Wednesday, bivouac at the "Crossroads" and do the canyon on Thursday. We double
checked the forecast, secured a permit (noone had even attempted Imlay in two weeks) packed up the gear and climbed on the bus for
the half hour ride to the Grotto Picnic Area.
The approach hike starts up the Angel's Landing trail to Scout Lookout, then north along the West Rim trail before heading cross country.
Several more hours of scrambling and bushwhacking up and over a pass brought us to the Imlay "Crossroads". There was a short wet
narrows section where we came in, but we were able to bypass it and find the promised camping spot ’Äì a large cave next to the drainage,
with easy escape to higher terrain in case of a sudden rise in water level. Although sheltered and comfortable enough, it was a spooky
place to camp ’Äì only a narrow slit of sky visible above, owls hooting, a peculiar barking noise from some small animal, and strange
irregular splashing and gurgling noises from upstream all night. Smeagol must have been catching fishessess in the pool just upstream.
Next morning we put on the drysuits and began the real fun ’Äì two long narrows sections with many rappels, lots of swimming,
downclimbing, and some good old thrashing through debris choked pools. We got off easy though ’Äì there was so much water in the
potholes that we had little difficulty with pothole exits. All that was required was a few "Shamu the beached whale" manuevers.