Mayventure Day 2: Cheesebox Canyon

We woke to cool overcast. Expecting sweltering sun, we had toyed with the idea of leaving behind our wetsuits, which was my idea. Actually, being a minimalist I had suggested that we leave the rappelling gear too. All this despite the three prescribed rappels and four lengthy swims in Cheesebox Canyon.

Camping abounds on the Cheesebox Road and we were able to camp at the head of a small tributary of Cheesebox Canyon, 10.9 miles from Soldier Crossing and the highway. We entered the canyon there with wetsuits, rappelling gear and 60′ of rope. A serious of simple but brushy downclimbs over half a mile brings you to the canyon bottom and your first slot. You’re in the water immediately and wetsuits are unequivocally welcome at 75°F and cloudy.

The rappels happen close together and are not into water. #1 is downclimbable, as is #3. This blogger did not have the stomach to risk downclimbing #2, though I surmise it is possible despite the slick and wet walls, which would obviate the need for rappelling gear completely. Rappel #3 does not look immediately downclimbable but there is a passage through the boulder jam that makes it possible and in fact easy. To rappel this would require at least 70′ of rope.

The swims are just that – lengthy bottomless pools – and there are 4 in all. The last one, a “swim slot” as author Michael Kelsey badges it, is bypassable with careful stemming. The exit is a quarter mile passed this swim and puts you back on the Cheesebox Road about 3 miles from where you entered.