Sunday, August 08, 2010

Katie, Christa, Brett, and Brigham go Canyoneering

You've read about this in other blogs, but I'm putting this here for Buff's benefit.  I'm shamelessly stealing Brett's and Christa's blog posts and sticking them here:
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The advice we've been getting as a non-childrened married couple is: Play. More.So that's what we did earlier this week. We went with the biggest advocates of the "Play, more" ideology, my sister and brother-in-law, Christa and Brigham, and spent Monday-Wednesday playing.  We took the inaugural trip of their newly purchased car to Moab, and into Arches.

Monday: We hiked. Pictures do a better job of it, so I won't try to explain it. We hit the movies for "Salt" Monday night.
Tuesday: We woke up, left, and showed up to our tour company place to go "Canyoneering" where we discovered that we were very un-prepared for the trip. To our credit, we did show up the day before to verify that we had all we needed. We thought we were ready -- she told us we'd be fine. We weren't. Luckily, our tour guide was awesome, and went home to get us rain jackets, and the company owner brought in a rain jacket for us. Secondly, we found out from our tour guide that all of his previous groups he had taken were experienced climbers, and, well, we essentially had no experience at all in the group. He assured us he could get us through it safely, and we were pretty excited to do it, so... we did. We got fitted in thermals (yes, thermals in August in Moab -- and yes, we were glad to have them), wet-suits, helmets, gloves, and our borrowed rain jackets.

We drove up a mountain, parked the van, and started on a trail. When we got to the river, we sort of just found a tree to hide behind as we got rid of the normal clothes and put on a wet-suit and gear. As we were hiking the trail toward the river, our guide said "wow... you can hear the water already..." It had been raining previous to our coming, and, well, he said he's never seen the water that high. Or that cold. And as if that wasn't enough, again, he was with a group of 4 completely inexperienced climbers on a tour where he had only been guiding experienced climbers.

The beginnings were a touch rough for a minute as he had to teach us all how to rappel and we clumsily made our way down. The rest of the way was spectacular. We were practically inside of a water-carved cave going down the side of, and sometimes, the middle of waterfalls. We descended 7 rappels in all. The water was very cold, and sometimes our feet would slip out from under us and we'd end up right in the waterfall as we quickly tried to let the rappel loose to drop as fast as we could. It was too loud in this near-water-cave place to talk to the guide, so it was, well, exciting to go over an edge, not knowing what we were about to do. There was a lot of "Figure it out as you go" and I'm sure a lot of "What in the world am I doing bringing these people here..." from the tour guide. Our guide was great, and very nice to work with. While the pictures of course can't capture it all as we were trying to protect the camera from the water, it'll give you some idea of what it was like.

Afterward, we did another 5-mile round trip hike on the negro bill canyon trail. We then ate unhealthy food and hit the movies again for Inception. We were pressed for time, so Katie didn't have time to finish her frosty. Feeling sympathy for her, I successfully smuggled the frosty into the theater in my pocket, where she got to finish enjoying it.

Wednesday, we slept in, and hit a few more spots in arches before we left for home again.  Lots of fun trip. Glad we went! Thanks for inviting us Christa and Brigham!
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Four beginners. Seven beautiful, fast-flowing waterfalls. One crazy idea to rappel down them, and a guide loopy enough to take on the task. Add it all up and you get a day never to forget!


We went with my brother and his wife, and between the four of us we could still count all of the times we'd been rappelling on one hand. The canyoneering trip that we chose was for experienced rappellers (as we found out when we arrived), but our guide assured us that he could get us through in one piece if we still wanted to go. Of course we did!

Anyone watching a video of our experience might think that they were watching clips from "America's Funniest Videos": there was plenty of slipping on slimy rocks, crashing into the side of the canyon, going under the waterfalls, and general spasticity. Put that together with our ultra-attractive canyoneering attire (rain jackets over helmets and wet suits), and my guess is that we would have sent anyone with the slightest degree of experience into hysterics. Luckily we were the only ones in the whole canyon. Our guide might have been laughing, but the roaring of the waterfall drowned it out (he said the water was at the highest level he'd ever seen it thanks to the rain for several days beforehand-- it was also colder than normal. BRRRRRRRR!).

Despite our complete lack of canyoneering skills, it was an amazing experience! Our rappels took us through this beautiful slot canyon that would have been a pleasure just to see. Add the thrill of rappelling down gorgeous waterfalls, and it was an experience like no other!

The rest of our trip was spent hiking around in Arches National Park and enjoying the amazing beauty there. We went on a 7 mile hike on primitive trails that was fantastic. It felt so good to be back out in nature again! Our goal is to somehow convince Jacob that nature is way better than electronics. Wish us luck!

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