Return to the Jug

Mike and I rarely visit the same place twice. With so many things to see, why waste your time with something you’ve already seen? Unfortunately, this travel/adventure philosophy is why Spain and the Czech Republic are closer to the bottom of our travel list than I would like them to be (Mike has been both places); nevertheless, it’s a good principle for the most part. We try to branch out and go new places.

The Jug defies our rules, though.

For those of you who have not read my previous blog about the Jug, it is a short canyon a few hours east of the Valley, near Roosevelt Lake. It is alluring because of its smooth granite walls, its pools and slides, and its relative simplicity (in terms of canyoneering). After an easy 2-mile hike, you arrive at a half-mile stretch of canyon that brings you through a natural water park of sorts. Just before the canyon widens and the dramatic walls disappear, there’s one last obstacle: a 30ft. rappel. The whole round-trip can be completed in just a few hours, though we usually spend extra time playing in the water on hot summer days. It’s a wonderful escape from the city and a great way to introduce others to the awesomeness of canyoneering, which is why we break the rules for it.

The best slide in the Jug. It's about 20ft. or so, with a splash down pool in the middle. You fly right through that pool in the picture and continue down, out of the frame, into a deeper pool.

The dramatic walls and the final rappel.

This semester I am the faculty advisor/mentor for the Arizona Outing Club (AOC). The AOC and I go all the way back to my first semester at ASU. Back then I was an outdoors newbie. Sure, I had gone camping with my family as a kid (in our pop-up trailer), I had completed several RAGBRAIs (bicycle rides across Iowa), and I had even tried outdoor rock climbing with a high school friend, but I was nowhere near the guru I’ve become. All of my current bad-assedness comes from my affiliation with the AOC.

I was walking across campus one scorching hot day in the fall of 2005 when I saw a tent manned by one, Paul Styrna. I’m sure there were signs advertising amazing adventures — I believe skydiving was among them — which is undoubtedly why I approached to ask a few questions. I probably never would have joined the club if an 18-year-old freshman had been manning the tent (I was a grad student already in my mid twenties, after all), but Paul was closer to my age, and he convinced me that the club had several upperclassmen, a few grad students, and even an alumnus named “Old Man Rick.” After deciding that I would really like an excuse to jump out of a plane, I decided to join the club.

That might have been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Ever. I’m not exaggerating. 90% of my closest friends now are people I’ve met through the club. Within my first year or so of joining the club I went skydiving, learned to rock climb, got SCUBA certified, hiked the Grand Canyon, canoed the Colorado River, and attempted to learn to snowboard (I’ve since gotten a little better). In the following years, I went on tons more trips, and I added canyoneering to my list of adventure sports. And those are only the direct benefits of joining the club. I also met Mike, and we’ve been together for over 5 and a half years now. Though we’ve done many things with the club, we’ve also gone on our own adventures, and I never would have had any of those good times if I hadn’t joined. To say that I’m a fan of the AOC is an understatement. That’s why I’m the club’s advisor now, and that’s why I still go on and organize trips, even though I’m way older than those freshmen members these days.

Mike planking

I know that was a ridiculous segue, but that brings me back to our trip to the Jug. Mike led the trip officially, though I considered myself an unofficial co-leader. I’m a bit of an outdoor evangelist, and the Jug is the perfect spot to baptize future canyoneers. We escorted 11 AOC members, who had never gone canyoneering before, on the trip. For many of them, it was their first trip with the AOC. For most of them, it was their first time rappeling — at least in a genuine outdoor setting. We had a blast, and I hope we managed to truly convert a few of them so that we’ll have more people to canyoneer with in the future.

And if I’ve even helped to convince one person that nature is breathtaking and that adventures are waiting, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

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P.S. I added this post since I’m still waiting on the next batch of roadtrip pictures. Mike took a trip to Vegas this week for a wedding business conference, so he didn’t have time to edit. Yellowstone pictures are up next, though!

2 Responses to “Return to the Jug”
  1. Kristen Mott says:

    I would still love to do The Jug with you guys someday!! 🙂 Enjoyed the post – thanks for sharing!

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  1. […] from our fall trip. If you’d like to see some pics, though, you can visit my earlier posts “Return to the Jug” or “The Jug.” We’ve gotten lazy about photos since we’ve been so many […]

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