Our team pushed the envelope with doing this canyon in late September when the water was quite cold. To get through this canyon, you do have to participate in:
One of these rappels lands you into a deep pool where you either tread water while releasing yourself from rappel, or feed out rope as you swim the 8 feet (or so) to solid ground.
My favorite part was eating lunch at a funky restaurant in Sedona. Here, Scott asked what each of us thought was the most challenging part, and the most rewarding part of our canyoneering adventure. Had I not been with this kind of a positive and fun group to travel with, I would have likely found a bail-out to avoid doing any more swimming.
Sheeeeeeez. The water was freezing. But somehow we turned the situation into a fun one, hunkered down, and accepted the cold. And there are many sections that you have to swim through. Needless to say, this canyon would be far more enjoyable in late spring.
The first rappel has two bolt/hangers at the top, so the anchor only needs carabiners and a sling. This rappel is the one that lands you into the pool. Water levels constantly change, though. The second rappel is "The Big One," being over 40 feet tall and sheer. The best, and virtually only, anchor point for this is a large tree near the edge.
Honorable mention goes to Chris for taking this hilarious sequence of me:
See Bajataco.com for another gallery of images for this trip: www.bajataco.com/jamescanyon05