Last week your humble bumble bee narrator was invited to hike "The Jug" by my old pal Jacob. I hadn't seen Jacob in a few years but he'd posted pictures from his hike the year previous and I mentioned it looked amazing. I did a little reading, spoke to a few people and I was even told "Yeah thats a fun hike, my mom did it last week."
First off, somebody's mom is a bad bad bitch because that hike nearly killed the unkillable King Bee!. Heed my tale of warning friends, while good times are in store, one miss-step, and to quote the show, "You're gonna have a bad time"
The Jug is described as an easy yet technical hike that brings you down some switchbacks, into the Salome Creek Canyon and loops back out to the valley and a brief (for some) hike back to your ride. A good portion of the hike you will be at least waist deep in water, sometimes even more so. I would come to depend on these sections as the only part I could skillfully manage. The use of the word "Easy" really threw me, I guess when its mentioned in canyoneering websites it carries a different connotation than what I could call easy, then again I havent been as active as I should and honestly should have been better prepared physically before taking this on.
The King Bee is not a sure footed creature. I am not known for grace and speed. After about 20 minutes in the creek you come to a natural waterfall/rock slide that is maybe only 10-12 feet long, everyone else slid down this thing laughing and having a great time. But as I shot down the rocks, the water lifted me up and slammed me down hard in a rather sensitive spot. The Granite Suppository, as it was to be known, was the moment this trip would start and continue to suck for me. An hour into what would be a six hour hike and I was wrecked.
Those hiking types will say if one thing is off it makes everything else harder and the whole system breaks down. They know what theyre talking about. As I soldiered on, my limp increased, violent leg cramps ensued and I could never catch my balance again. I had to limp/fall/crawl the rest of the way out of that canyon, there was no way to go back the way we'd come.
I want to pause here and take a minute to talk about this guy Jacob Stradling. Jacob invited me on the trip and stuck by my side the whole time, he was a steady hand when I needed balance, hes cautious but quick and made sure I got out alive. The rest of the gang tromped along having a good time but Jacob always hung back to make sure I wasnt buzzard food... Helped carry the load more than once and the only thing I could offer in return was to teach him that if you inflate your hydration backpack, and cinch down the waist belt it helps you float through the deeper portions of the hike.... and he got a good laugh out of watching me cripple myself upon some fine Arizona Pink Granite! I cant thank the guy enough!
Had I not been wracked with pain I'm certain I would have been able to marvel and the super cool rock formations of the canyon and the beauty of the cool clean COLD water that rushed through the canyon. I crawled along at a snails pace and tried to make the most of the swimming portions of the hike, fighting cramps and stumbling along as best I could.
The highlight of "The Jug" is a sketchy rock ledge you can shimmy across with the use of a rope that's sunk into the stone, then you lower yourself down a short natural chute before you make a 25ft leap into the water below. I wanted very much to be excited about the jump but in my diminished state I was more focused on the prospect that if my arms, or that rope faled (as my legs were already out of the equation, I would certainly split my skull on the rocks below. BUT once you reach the end of that chute, there really is no wrong way to fall off and you splash into cold deep water safely.
The rest of the hike was fairly uneventful, the most difficult portions well behind us. My body threw a fit at every opportunity and each step rocked with pain and at one point on the hike back up to the car I found a large rock slab and lay in the middle of the trail in the sun, trying to will my legs back to life. Again, I cant thank the gang enough for their patience.
So, my lesson to you, or anyone who will listen. Make sure you walk before you run. Im certain this is a great hike for those who are into that sort of thing, but if you're a beginner, maybe stick to something a little close to home and ramp up to this