Bob Kamps and The Lost Canyons of Zion Part II


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The salty ocean blue and deep
Topic Author's Original Post - May 3, 2008 - 11:07pm PT
…and pitched and yawed in the deadly tempest. The storm drew itself up, and unleashed its mega-ton fury on the struggling vessel.

Huge waves broke over the bow, shattering the planking beneath into a billion toothpicks. The beleaguered ship gave a last shutter, like the death rattle of a drowning sailor, rolled left then right, and sank slowly…the ragged Jolly Roger disappearing beneath the devouring waves when finally the deed was done.

Next morning, like the storm had never been, beautiful turquoise waters swirled softly round the wreck, caressing it with long gentle strokes.

Nary a body was found by the searchers…only pieces-parts…

..and ‘twould seem the glorious crew had gone a visitin’ Davy Jones’ Locker for certain when…


…wait a minute…I don't recognize those pieces-parts...

Blimey! Wrong fargin' story...

Ah yes, Zion!

Land of red sandstone mysteries and perilous climbs both to the heavens and, as in our story, to the underworld itself.

We’d left our heroic yet sadly doomed adventurers mulling about the trailhead to Bitch Hellhole, recovering from a claustrophobic van ride to the drop point while packing and repacking their gear, and anticipating with undisguised relish the confrontation to come with those demons of the deep—slot canyons!

But I have a small surprise for you first.

Today, out of the ether, that lusty wench Buxom Bonnie Kamps--who’d heard the rumor that The Lost Canyons of Zion manuscript had finally surfaced--that most excellent of minivan captains, sent to me the one thing which Sea-cucumber Craig forgot: Aye! A group mugshot!

(Left to right) The Motliest Crew of Buccaneers to navigate the Zion canyonways ever.

Cap’n Bob the Claw—Named for his legendary crimping strength and strange ability to float on water for weeks at a time

Gangway! Graham—That boy could move faster than a beached orca

Sneaky-as-a-thief Craig—Cause you just never saw him

Dead-men-tell-no-tales Powell—That’s right, he’s in the medical profession

Pocket-full-a-pirate-tricks Mike—He’d kill you with laughter, and then steal your bloody wallet

Bilge-lovin’ Brenda—She loved water no matter how stinky, cold or old

Poop-deck Melinda—A bonnie lass with a thing for high decks and low company

Great-white-shark-steak Greg—He was destined to be a meal in himself

Cat-o-nine-furballs L—It’s a past-life thing. Don’t ask.

Splice-the-mainbrace MadFrog—It’s always 5:00 somewhere…and by the way…would you like to pet my little frog?

So there they stand, the Masters of Misadventure, about to embark on the most gruesome, grotesque and mentally disturbing expedition of their short (and some not so short) pirating lives.

They’d had a chance to pull out of the deal when they first arrived in Zion.

A scouting expedition had gone in search of likely ways to follow the treasure map into the bowels of the Earth, and stood at the Kolob Canyon lookout and—what else?—looked out, at the great ships of rock surrounding the infamous Kolob Canyon and other meaty byways.

(left to right): Disguised as mysterious civilians, Miss-Marple L, Hercule-Poirot Powell, Angela-Lansbury Brenda, and Sam-Spade Greg ponder a drop into the deadly Kolob Canyon.

A magnificent stretch of sculptured Earth, Kolob was high walled, slick as snot and technical; one false step and you and all your party would find yourselves in deep dog-do. And when snowmelt had turned the canyon bottom into a roaring, raging mass of silty water, boulders and careening logs 20 feet high, Kolob was scary dangerous. Frightening in its raw power and shear, crushing beauty.

We were a fearless bunch of cutthroats, it’s true, but even a fearless bunch of cutthroats knows when to hold ‘em, knows when to fold ‘em, knows when to turn tail and run like hell away. And so we did. Terrifyingly gorgeous Kolob was left behind us and Bitch Hellhole was made our destination.

Bitch Hellhole…an easy day of moderate canyoneering with a little buccaneering thrown in.

Arrrrrr—had we only known the grievous mistake we were making, we would’ve embraced Kolob like a kids’ giant waterslide and had a rip-roaring good time, possibly losing an arm or two, but feeling good about ourselves at the end of the day anyways. But it weren’t to be.

So the tale begins with Cap’n Claw’s wench Lusty Bonnie dropping us at the trailhead, and we heading down the road into the depths. It was easy going as far as canyon approaches go…lulling us into a false sense of security. And then we came upon something that would’ve appeared a bit creepy to civilians…a narrow gash in the stone with walls of blood.

Slot canyon!

Heave ho, Mateys! We’ve found one!

And one by one, we marched into the mouth of those blood-red walls, singing a good old pirate chantey:

”Heave ho and a bottle a rum
it’s off to work I go-oh-oh!
To find some treasure
and maybe some pleasure
in a bloody little canyon
with a great big fanny
and some gold doubloons
And I don’t know the words
ta this tune oh-oh-oh-oh
And the walls are closing in
and the air’s a getting thin
where is the dang Cap’n
when yer really needing ‘em?
Heave ho oh-oh-oh and ho.”

We really sucked at singing, no question about it. So after a bit we all shut up, rather than permanently damage our hearing. The walls got steeper and the blood-red color turned to rust…like dried blood in a sunny spot on your living room floor. Odd, yet oddly beautiful, and we walked on.

Then, without warning, the walking came to an abrupt stop.

Deep and bizarrely chiseled, a chasm yawned before us…beckoning us with its other-worldliness. The only way forward was down. We harnessed up with shaking hands, fumbling the belay devices and double-backs in our excitement to launch into the abyss.

Cap’n Bob went first, of course, fearless of slot monsters or descents into unknown murky depths, and wishing to protect his fragile crew should something go awry. He rapped in with speed and an ease that spoke of eons of using a rope, and not just to lynch prisoners with either.

Photo by MadFrog

Perhaps Bitch Hellhole is a misnomer here.

Birch Hollow, up until that murderous finale, was as enjoyable and beautiful a slot canyon as they come. Arcing walls towering above us, magnificent water-sculptures to the left and right, as ancient and flowing as time itself. And all along the passages where sunlight rappelled its way down, florescent lime-green aspen and grasses poised strikingly against the rust-red sandstone.

Photo by MadFrog

Sometimes you just had to stop and stare, the awe of Nature’s simple creations filling you, overwhelming your senses. But you had to be careful. Stay fully alert. Slots are no place to lose your head daydreaming, or indeed, you would lose your head. As soon as you got comfortable with the terrain, some earth sprite or other would come and change it on you.

Which is why we swung leads—so that no one got all their brains used up all at once. And also so that the rest of us scallywags could partake in the joyous challenge of trying to figure out if this is where they’d find our polished bones one day…the victims of an indecipherable puzzle.

I watched Octopus-arms MadFrog walk towards a passage that didn’t look like a passage at all, and disappear into the rock.

The raggedy bunch of us followed, and ended up in another world, one of water-slick gray boulders lodged between glassy walls, and no way to the ground. Well, no way that is, barring a 15 foot leap that would break only your ankles, if you were lucky.

Limp-mast MadFrog had made himself comfy against a wall and waited with arms akimbo, expecting the rest of the crew to figure out the descent, or die trying. Cap’n Claw, not wanting to cheat his crew of the fun of learning the laws of gravity, retired to an alcove to catch 40 winks.

After many a hypothesis put forth by Grog-floggin’ Brenda, Black-toenail Mike and Shiver-me-timbers Powell, it was decided that jumping to the distant floor below would not be the best idea, as basket litters were few and far between. Perhaps a rope, attached to nothing but air and held firmly in the hand, could be used as a purely psychological crutch to descending the slick-ass tree?

Sweet-lass Melinda and yours truly were not consulted about the descent; as piratanical blondes, we were held in such high esteem that even asking for our genius recommendations was tantamount to insulting a Norse goddess. Instant death would be your reward. So we sat atop the gray boulder and exchanged stories of all the throats we’d slashed for golden trinkets and pearl necklaces, not to mention rum, as we were both great fans of boat-drinks.

And then the funniest thing happened: We noticed Shipwreck Craig and Son-of-Shipwreck-Craig there on the ground far below us, and Cap’n Bob catching another 40 winks beside them.

If you’ll kindly focus your attention on the upper right-hand corner of the above photo, you’ll see a crossed pair of enormous feet—they belong to Sea-Sasquash-foot MadFrog. Beneath his feet lies an intricately carved hidden staircase in the rock, leading from the high plateau above to the sandy ground below. Cap’n Bob, savvy in the ways of maze-running, had descended the staircase, seen only by Jelly-fish Craig and Son-of-Jelly-fish, who had sneakily followed him.

And there they stood below us, grinning—while the rest of us quarreled over unfeasible descents or compared recipes for boat-drinks. I tell you, those pirates have a grand sense of humor, to be sure.

There were many more boulders to be dealt with, and at times it was up to the good Cap’n to keep us movin’ right along lest we be caught in the slots after dark and exposed to hideous night terrors.

I believe right here is where Hell-n-damnation Powell is saying, “No way, man! No way! I’m afeard of heights Cap’n and you dang well knows it!"

And the good Cap’n be replying, “Aw now KP, you be alright, laddie. Just take er at yer own pace…that’s right."

Powell: "Hey! Don’t be pushing me now. Stop it, I say! I gots this bloody 93 pound pack aweighing me down, blast ye!"

Cap'n Bob: "'Cept night 'twill fall afore ye move, it appears. So 'tis just a little shove I’m gonna give ye..."

Powell: "If I be dropping this here million doubloon camera there'll be hell ta pay—hey now, stop it!"

Cap'n Bob: "...Ye friggin’ tortoise…for yer own good hardy-har-har!"

Powell: "Now just give me a bloody min—Nooooooooo....”

Cap'n Bob: "Oh.....blimey!"

Powell: "....oooooooooph!" Thump!

Cap'n Bob: "Er...Sorry lad...guess 'tis a good thing ye be a pirate paramedic an' can splint that thar broky ankle yerself, eh?”

It was on this same boulder that Spittoon Brenda, scared to death to make the leap, begged Sea-poodle Graham to catch her when she jumped.

If ye have never seen the look of unutterable terror on a seafarer’s face before, here it is, Mates. Some pirates just naturally seem to be afeared of women, don’t ask me why.

Me thinks he may even be saying his prayers right then.

Now the amazin’ thing about Scupper-nose Graham was this: Of all the pirates in our crew, he was the one most in touch with his feelings, and the one least inhibited about letting those glorious feelings show. Why, just take a look at his full expression of dread as he descends this rappel. Could you ask for any more honesty from a man?

Hell no!

Then came Eel-breath MadFrog’s challenge: The slimy boulder from Hades.

After caviling and caterwauling and threatening to severe the head from anyone who tried to push him down this thing, suddenly, like he’d been sprinkled with pink fairy dust, he performed a magnificent flip, three Olympic-highboard spins...

...and a single-point pirouette down the greasy rockface, stopping in a perfect 10.0 lie-back for his admiring fans.

The applause was deafening.

Never had a man with such large feet performed with such grace and fluidity on a snot-covered mound of debris. And all with his backpack on, too.

Even the Cap’n grinned, nodded his regal head, and winked.

It was Baryshnikov MadFrog’s finest moment.

I get shivers up-n-down me spine just thinkin’ about it.

Well lads and lasses, once again I feel meself hearing the call of the Sirens—the wall ain’t far off. ‘Tis time to get outdoors an breathe the air. There’s a sun settin' on the pool beneath me window, birds be singing and a soft breeze rustling the blinds. And here I sit, writing a pirate’s tale…it’s a curse, this writing thing be. A curse an a blessing, to be sure.

But afore I go, let me warn ye a bit of what the future holds, so as to prepare ye for the horrors to come. For truly, when we started our descent into the wetness, that’s when the madness came upon us, and the lovely Birch Hollow transformed itself in Bitch Hellhole.

So who should be leading the pack this leg a the journey but none other than Squid-eater Graham. And following him be his own good father Seasick-as-a-dog Craig. Well it appeared that Craig had stopped to take a photo of three of us doing the famous Wet-crotch Pirate Dance after wading into a deceptively deep and friggin' cold pool of water.

Please notice how those lovely black neoprene socks, worn fetchingly with shorts and sandals, make us appear like Dorky Pirates from The Nerdibeanne. 'Tis a blessing we Brethern of the Zion Slots had little concern with fashion statements.

Good-father Craig gets his shot of the wet threesome and happily heads on down the canyon, humming a little pirate ditty…and rounds the corner to one of the most shocking, heart-wrenching surprises of his entire life:

There stands his one, his only, his most beloved son, Thought-you-were-hetero Graham, in a skin-tight neon blue tank-top and even more skin-tight tights.

Friggin’ tights, Mateys! Just like Michael Friggin’ Flatley—Lord of the Friggin’ Fairy Dance!

All of Craig’s dreams of dozens of grandchildren to dandle on his lap, to carry on the proud family name, and to comfort him in his old age were instantly and cruelly dashed on the rocks of bitter reality. And in this pathetic imitation of Michael-Flatley's-River-Dance underwear, No-grandkids Craig saw the destruction of all his pirate family empire-building dreams.


With a blood-curdling scream, he throws himself at his progeny, planning to strangle the gayness right out of him, along with the life.

Fortunate for Good-father Craig it were, and even more fortunate for I’m-damn-straight Graham, we were able to jump on Craig afore too much damage were done Graham’s windpipe, wrestle the screamin’ fiend to the ground, belay-pin him a couple a times to help him regain his senses, and explain to ‘em that Graham’s skin-hugging International Male ensemble were actually a neoprene farmer john top and bottoms. A necessity for the chill waters we’d soon be a slogging through.

Cold-cocked Craig, being Old School, had a 3.2 mil that looked like the thing Lloyd Bridges used to parade around in. Ancient and rubbery and lookin’ of a creature from the deep. Nothing like the GQ duds his son was sporting. He lay there a moment, with all 7 of us piled atop him, as the words soaked in.

Then with tears in his eyes, he crawled from beneath us, grasped his son to his breast and begged his forgiveness, and then like any good homophobic pirate father would, threatened to cut his gonads off if perchance he were still in the closet.

Graham, teary-eyed and bruised esophagus, swore he was straight and loved his father and was going to have a dozen kids just to prove it, as soon as he could find a pirate wench who was a Fertile Mertle and would have him, and had most of her teeth, too.

We ‘twere all crying an blubberin' by that time, and huggin’ one another and swearin’ the pirate oath a loyalty. And Cap’n Bob, knowin’ we needed pirate bondin’ like that, let us grope and snot all over each other a bit more, then said ‘twas time fer the rest of us to put on our skins and get to the business of water-walking.

The glow of that pirate bonding stayed with us fer a good long while, into the depths of blackness and frigid waters we were facing, and even beyond.

But come the last chapter a the book, the final act of this comedy of errors, ‘tweren’t no snotty-nosed pirate bonding gonna save us, mark me words. Fer the Black Spot was upon us…but we did not know it.

Not yet.

Lovely dreams and soft satin sheets to ye all this fine eve,

Buccaneer L

Bloody 'el Mateys! What do ye mean ye been peeing in this here water????


Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
May 4, 2008 - 12:03am PT
OK, I just woke from a long coma..
and haven't even had a chance to read this thing
yet. Just wanted you to know that I was back, and I'm on board with the new adventure.
So don't think you can just get away with making stuff up...
or whatever.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
May 4, 2008 - 12:08am PT
The Pirate Song

"I want to be a pirate
A pirates life for me
All my friends are pirates
And sail the b. b. sea
I've got a jolly roger
It's black and white and vast
Get out of your skull and crossbones
And I'll run it up your mast

With a yo-ho-ho
And a ya-ha-ha
And a ye-hee-hee-ho-hum
With a yo-ho-ho
And a ya-ha-ha
And a yum-yum-jum-jum"

 by George Harrison

There is a video of him singing it at

The salty ocean blue and deep
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2008 - 12:10am PT
Darn...wish I'd seen that Pirate Song before I'd put ours in there. George's is much better...and he could sing, too.

Sir Vival Edit: Makin' stuff up????? Are ya daft? Those cutthroats would kill me in the blink of a black-patched eye if I didn't change their names at least! Jeez Mate...what were ya thinkin'?

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
May 4, 2008 - 12:31am PT
That's quite a tale ye be weavin' there, my young bard.

I'll wager tis not the first sea shanty ye've sung.

A finer crew 'as ne'er been seen.

But keep a close eye peeled,
there be kracken lurkin' below........

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
May 4, 2008 - 12:53am PT
This is awesome L, thanks for a fun adventure tale.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
May 4, 2008 - 12:56am PT
Aye, she was a good ship in the days before she went down...

They said their goodbye......

And then there was nothin' left but the bard to tell the tale of woe....


Social climber
May 4, 2008 - 12:59am PT
Ye've done it agin wench...

We're itchin' ta hear the rest of it, and yer makin' us wait some more.

If'n I git a holt of ya, yer walkin' the plank til ya cough up the endin!!!

Yo ho ho indeed!

Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 4, 2008 - 07:11am PT
L spins a tale of a trip with a jolly crew. Bravo, here's hoping for more.

The salty ocean blue and deep
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2008 - 10:28am PT
Ah, lovely've almost pegged it.

The fact 'tis, I live in a condominium head...they stopped adding on at 140. :-)

Thanks for sharing the adventure with me laddies!

Minneapolis, MN
May 4, 2008 - 12:39pm PT
Is that Uma Thurman standing in that pool in red shorts?

Nearly totally unrelated comment: I met Bob in Tuscon for a trip once and he brought along a couple pals from LA. I don't remember their names, but I was struck by the fact that the woman (not Bonnie) ate each of her desserts *before* not after each meal.


The salty ocean blue and deep
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2008 - 10:02pm PT

You are in.

That's right, you're now an official member of The Brethren of the Lost Canyons of Zion. You fulfilled all three of the mandatory requirements:

1. You're a climber

2. You knew Cap'n Bob

3. You're a prodigous prevaricator

(Uma Thurman...hahaha! That was great! Made my day--no,
you made my YEAR!!! And proved that you knew just the right
outrageous fabrication to important trait for a
Pirate, to be sure.)


As for that climber gal with Bob--perhaps you were unaware that most of us females live by this simple creed:

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. :-)

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
May 4, 2008 - 11:56pm PT

Surely someone has told you that you win the Uma Thurman
look alike before???

The salty ocean blue and deep
Topic Author's Reply - May 5, 2008 - 12:14am PT

Hahaha! Yes, but they all had ulterior motives! How could I believe them???

Minneapolis, MN
May 5, 2008 - 12:04pm PT

Are there any discounts involved?

The salty ocean blue and deep
Topic Author's Reply - May 5, 2008 - 12:41pm PT
Not really, but ye gets ta share the booty when we scupper other canyoneers' gear--a rare treat!

And ye can talk like a Pirate and people will know not to mess with ye...mental instability has its rewards.

Oh yes, and should ye ever need help doing away with some blaggard who be annoying ye, ye only need contact the Brethren--note in a bottle works best--and we'll make shark bait outta 'em in a second.

chica from chico, I don't claim to be a daisy
May 5, 2008 - 12:53pm PT
Southwest slot them, and always Love your stories!!

Miss L, is the first picture -*painting* of yours?

The salty ocean blue and deep
Topic Author's Reply - May 5, 2008 - 01:59pm PT
Naw Nita--found it on the net. Searched high and low and couldn't find the artist's name, but it's cool, isn't it? And the only stormwreck I could find, sad to say.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 5, 2008 - 02:43pm PT
Searched high and low and couldn't find the artist's name, but it's cool, isn't it?
And the only stormwreck I could find, sad to say.

Way off topic but I'll take this cue to show my all-time favorite shipwreck art,
Newfoundland original David Blackwood's "Fire Down on the Labrador." Wish I'd
bought a print back before he got discovered.


The salty ocean blue and deep
Topic Author's Reply - May 5, 2008 - 03:48pm PT
I love that painting Chiloe! Any time the whale wins, it's a great thing.

Thanks Stich--that's what I was hoping lure ye potential pirates into me crew by standin' there in ever' time! :-)
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