This guy. I kept trying to pin him down for plans for Spring break, and nothing would stick with him. Finally I said we could just go to St. George and stay with his parents so I didn't have to reserve anything. We had been wanting to visit them anyway. My one caveat was that I wanted to hike in Zion's for my birthday. My friend had posted this hike called Observation Point that wasn't crowded ever and looked beautiful. When the kids asked what I wanted for my birthday I said a complaint free hike. They assured me they couldn't give me that haha.
Then a few days before the start of break, Jeff got this idea in his head about doing a canyoneering course. I didn't think the kids could possibly be uncomplaining enough to make it worth the money, and they said they weren't really interested, but Jeff really thought it would be good for them and all of us.
Enter Jeff's second genius idea: Bribes.We promised Ari a dress, and Kai a video game if they did the course without complaining. We also said ice cream at the end of each day. Yeah we are kind of suckers.
But when the instructor said "who wants to go first" when it was time to rappel, Kai said..."ummm I guess me"
Ari was also a real trooper. There were a couple of things that freaked her out a little, but she ponied up each time.
The course wasn't just rappelling, we learned about soft starts, and how they are needed in certain instances when you aren't sure about your anchor. Like when it is a MEAT ANCHOR. Yes this what it sounds like. People. Ari got a little freaked about the soft starts, and my legs were a little shaky I admit. You have to stay low, and with slack on the rope until you are over the edge, so the friction of the rope on the cliff can help hold you up. But with slack, you just don't feel secure like you do with the rope pulling on you. When I got done, and the instructor told me this was just a fifty foot cliff, I felt like such a weenie, but it was that slack around the top that did me in. My little Ari teared up a little on her turn.
My meat anchors.
Kai just did every cliff fast. When Jeff asked him why he said "well I don't brake very well, so I just hurry". Sheesh. Not what a mom wants to hear. We learned some techniques about slowing down from the top of the cliff, and on the fly, and that helped all of us.
Anyway, they earned their ice cream that first day! That was a lot of climbing back UP the cliff each time too. Plenty of exercise. I came back to Jeff's mom's house and went to sleep.
So, as an overview of the course, the first day we learned map reading and how to estimate drainages, and flash flood severity, using weather reports, other obstacles in the canyons, etc. the second day was mostly rappelling techniques, the third day was mostly how to set up ropes, knots, and anchors.
But this was one rappelling thing we worked on the third day. Can you see this little rock pile? This is supposed to hold you up on a cliff. It weighed maybe 70 or 80 pounds. This was another instance where you needed to use a soft start. I mean...ok for Kai, but we had a guy in our group that third day who weighed close to 300 pounds. This rock pile totally held him up.
We weren't being reckless, we had a meat anchor back up, but they consistently didn't feel any pull. The rocks help up the rapeller. It is amazing what the friction of the cliff on the rope can hold! Our big guy friend had his mind blown. He must have kept saying "wow" for 40 minutes. He just couldn't believe it held him.
All of our course was on the Chuckwalla trail. We didn't know what the name meant. But that third day, we saw a Chuckwalla. This was a big guy. Maybe 10" long and fat. I was lucky to get a picture!
Overall, I recommend this course. Go to Adventure Plus in St. George, and ask for T.J. as an instructor.
Friday was my birthday! Jeff spent the whole morning fixing a broken faucet, but we were able to get the kids to the temple for baptisms, and...Zion's!!!
By the time we got up there, it was after 6:30, and the shuttles didn't run long after that, so we picked a shorter, easier hike.
We just did the emerald pools. I went here when I was a little kid, and the weeeping rock just fascinated me. We came in the middle of the hot summer, so dry. I thought and thought about that weeping rock, preserving that water for months and letting it fall in hot arid August.
The trail was kind of crowded, especially to just the lower pool section. It cleared out a bit going to the middle and upper pools.
Trees were still pretty brown from winter.
But still impressive. Those massive cliffs!
I had a nice birthday present with not much complaining at all. :)
And now we are certified to jump off of cliffs and rope ourselves through canyons.