Into Sipapu: Slickrock Descent


The images of Sipapu Bridge you saw yesterday’s posting was taken on the descent my wife, Pam, and I took to the floor of White Canyon.

Final Step

Here is a Fine Art print of the final step into the canyon where the trail traverses a type of sandstone called “Slickrock.” For Pam and I the surface was like sandpaper and, for the right type of shoes, provides great traction.

That day I wore Lowe hiking boots with a harder sole and these could slip at times. I’d recommend a different shoe for the trail, but my boots come over the ankle and provide great support. Plus, the canyon bottom is sandy, so high boots prevent sand from falling into the shoe. A perfect choice for this trip is a high boot that provides support, with a softer sole on a hard and light shank (to protect you against sharp rocks).

What is Slickrock?

Slickrock was named by the first settlers and explorers who discovered their iron shod horses lost footing on the steep slopes of this sandstone.

This was another feature of Pam and my descent into White Canyon. The sandstone weathers in a way that produces steep slopes over which the trail must pass and the traveler navigate. I chose this image as a Fine Art print (part of a series featuring Natural Bridges National Monument) because this part of the trial is strange and beautiful.

The hard rock cliffs are resistant to wear and, in this climate, weather to provide rounded surfaces. The cliff face is scalloped and marked with desert varnish striations that “pop out” from the red rock. Then, there is the clear light and bright morning sky on a summer morning that promised thunderstorms.


Then, there are the personal memories of that iron railing drilled into the rock and that marvelous looking ladder created from driftwood found in the canyon.  That ladder is a work of art!!  The photograph does not reproduce the feeling Pam and I had at that point of the descent.  I needed to climb down the ladder backwards (facing out) and holding on .

We were both grateful to reach the sandy stream bed in White Canyon.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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