The Subway: Left Fork North Creek
Last Candition: May 5, 2011
It was a 70-degree day and we were all grateful for wetsuits. Those with farmer john style wished for a bit more protection. Beautiful as always. Still quite a bit of sand in upper part; bowling ball is walk-over. New rap station is great. I like being deposited right near the waterfall room better than the old walk-around.
Lots of sand. Cold water at the top. Much warmer water down canyon. Only 2 or 3 swimmers. With a large group we were happy to have full wetsuits (4/3) and neo socks because it was a windy day. Everyone was pretty cold by the end of the "subway section" but warmed up quickly during the walk down the creek.
Water felt fairly warm but we also had just finished Das boot so that may be deceiving. Not as much swimming as normal. Awesome conditions and weather this time of year
Took a group of 5 in 6 1/2 hours from top down. Took a LOT of great photos. For this annual trip, there was a LOT of sand in the top half, and the lower half had much LESS. The bowling ball corridor definitely changed. In the past, you would need to downclimb and swim underneath the log. This time, you drop into waist deep water (due to the sand) and walk to the boulder. You can't go underneath at all, so you climb on top and then jump into a 30ft swimmer (like usual). Keyhole falls was topped off with sand. It seemed more like a 5-6ft downclimb onto soft sand. The lower pools, or subway section, doesn't have much sand, thankfully. Beautiful down there! 3/2 wetsuits were worn and 1 drysuit for a lady. Worked out well for November.
The canyon above the springs was drier than I have seen it in the past. That said, the upper pools were still deep enough to swim and were chilly.
The sand that others had seen filling the canyon has been washed out. The pools and channels are back to their normal depths. The amount of handlines that adorn the bowling ball now is sad. Easy downclimb with few penalty points if you slip into the swimmer.
Fall colors were done in the canyon but lower in the watercourse it might still have not reached peak.
All anchors in great shape. Beautiful fall colors are prime right now! The last flash filled in all the fun! The bowling ball is a walk over now! No longer a swim under it, filled up with sand and debris. Canyon has a lot of sand, minimizing the holes along the way. :-(
Still a beautiful hike at this time of year.
The scenery is the same, but a lot of the obstacles are different. Keyhole falls is not full of water like it was before. Also, the bowling ball is now something you climb over instead of swimming under.
Took 6 of us via Russel Gulch, 6 1/2hrs from car to car. Very cold water at 1st and 2nd swimmers. Bowling Ball section was ice-cold as well. However, it looks like another log has been added to that section as the clearance is much lower. Now there are 2 logs to dodge. You can either use the 3rd floating log to climb on top of the chockstone and jump in) or we would recommend going feet-first through it. Great temps to hike in after the subway proper, which probably made our trip extra fast. Oh, there is no log at the subway shower as it has been properly noted, but groups have been either jumping across (dumb idea for noobs and inexperienced) but the better option is to rappel as we saw a few folks do.
Did the canyon from top to bottom with a group of seven; took us 7.5 hrs from upper trailhead to lower trailhead.
The mandatory swims are freezing and wetsuits are highly recommended! The swim under the bowling ball has a log on the down canyon side which makes for a tight but doable swim through. The springs come in right after and are surprisingly warm.
The log bridge at the last rap is washed away, so the new anchors on the right side should be used.
Hiked top down - Water in the canyon was perfect temp - probably didn't need the neoprene socks I wore.
The final rappel has a new log across the gap over the waterfall that a group hauled up. It barely long enough to be touching on both sides, and is quite flexible and smallish in diameter. I did not test it by crossing and instead rappelled on the new anchors on the right (RDC).
Standard Approach. Water was plenty cold. I recommend full suits. There is a TON of sand downstream of keyhole falls and is filling some and completely occluding a number of potholes in the money section. Unfortunate. Still very pretty and worthwhile. Anchors and webbing in good shape.
Encountered a VERY large rattle snake along the trail. Keep your eyes open.
No flow until the main spring at the under arch swim. We took wetsuits varying from 3's to 5's. Caught up to a group at keyhole falls wearing no suits and they got through but were very cold in the water section.
Ran with Das Boot Entrance. Water was cold, would definitely wear wet suits. Took them off after subway section. Hike out is a bare, lots of lost trails. All anchors in good shape. All webbing at the logs for the water fall room at the subway had been removed due to recent accident at that location. Two newbs to this canyon with lots of photography = 12 hours car to car.
Lots of water. Did this with Das Boot. Lots of people. Raps in good shape. Creek bed trail is completely washed out from the flooding. Lots of snakes and toads. This hike is overrated but I'll still rate it a 4.
Two weeks after the canyon flashed, it has a very different look. Most potholes filled with sand. Drops are shorter. Many parts of the lower trail washed out. You will have to walk the river out more. Top half above subway is faster to hike and lower half is longer. Lots of debris but still a ton of fun.
Flashed on sunday. went through thursday, the canyon was fine to hike through. warm waters, no wetsuits, however the flash had sent a mass amount of sand through the canyon. large water holes and section that used to be swims are now just sandy trails. The "track" before the subway is no longer visible as it is filled with sand. very different looking subway right now.
SIDE NOTE QUESTION::
when the canyon flashes like this, how long until the sand usually washes out and it returns to "normal" conditions???
Great trip for the 4 of us. Took us 6 1/2 hrs to do the Boot and subway from car to car.
The first pools were still muddy from the recent rainstorms, however at the 1st "rap" it is clear from there on out. Subway was very full! Great time! No wetsuits and it was good, but if it's cloudy, bring a wetsuit. Anchors in good shape.
Canyon was flowing throughout, down from both Das Boot and Russell Gulch, thanks to the big storms over the last few days. Water was very muddy, slow going because you couldn't see anything of what you were hiking in. Canyon obviously full of water, went in 4:3 wetsuits and were very comfortable, spent lots of time lounging around in pools and enjoying ourselves. Anchors fine. No crystal clear pools but fun in its own way.
Canyon is dry until the first normal pool. Plenty of cold water still to play in after that. We kept our 7mm suits on from Das Boot which is an overkill for subway but makes the water that much more fun. Ran into 2 groups with no wetsuits and they got through fine, but were definitely cold even on a 100 degree day. If you don't mind packing it out, a wetsuit makes it more enjoyable
The Subway is AWESOME right now. It's full of clean clear water. The pools are longer and deeper than years past.
We wore 7/5 wetsuits, 5mm boots and neo gloves (we did Das Boot earlier) and it was a spectacular romp!
You CAN swim under the log jammed in Keyhole Falls (we all did). If you don't wear a wetsuit it will really suck.
I would highly recommend a 4/3 or 3/2 full wetsuit until the weather gets really hot.