Saturday, June 6, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Trip Day #2: Canyoneering, Tadpoles, and Flash Flood

 This is a long post. But it was a long day, full of good memories, and something I want to preserve when I print out my blog (blogging is a wonderful way for me to keep my photos and thoughts organized!).

So the day started with hopping into a vehicle and driving an hour and a half to Capitol Reef National Park. We hiked up a beautiful trail and I kept stopping to take photos.

Within an hour, we reached this gorgeous arch. Lots of other hikers were around, too. But they planned to go back to the parking area the same way they came. We planned to go down the canyon via seven rappels and get back to the parking area in about five hours. We could see some big puffy clouds forming, but the sun was shining and this canyon had a very small drainage area, so we felt like we weren't taking on too much risk.

We rigged to a small tree and took turns going down the 130 ft drop. I watched. (This photo and the next are Randi's--thanks for getting such awesome photos!)

Here's Jeff starting down. It was an awesome rappel.

From the bottom, this is what it looked like.

Here's my friend Randi. She's the one who was responsible for me being there, and I am so grateful! What a terrific experience.

The second rappel was just a short distance away. It was 140 ft, but didn't seem so long as it was split into two parts, the first along this cliff...

…and the second part dropping into this sweet alcove. One thing I like about canyoneering is that everyone gets a bottom belay on the longer drops (and on shorter drops if they want). That's a nice added safety measure that hardly takes any extra time and no extra gear.

Then it was time to pull the rope and bag it, along with the pull cords. We ladies had it under control.

We progressed a bit farther and rappelled through this arch.

And soon after we had to squeeze through this slot to finish the rappel.

A short downclimb followed, where I fell off the slippery branch but managed to land on my feet. Whew. Sometimes a small mistake can lead to big consequences, so I was grateful that I didn't even get a bruise from that incident and vowed to be more careful watching my footing.

Around a couple more corners we had another rappel, where our leader Lisa posed for a photo.

This was one of the most beautiful rappels (this photo and next are Randi's).

There was a fun little swing at the bottom that I just had to do a couple times.

We rounded a corner and had a short traverse.

This led to a nice rappel over water. I was actually surprised how little water we were seeing in the canyon as it had rained the entire previous day.

This little puddle of water did a nice job reflecting the rappeler.

We had one more rappel, and we weren't in a big hurry to do it, as we were having so much fun. After we were all down, we paused for a photo, which was a great idea. (This is Lisa's photo.)

But fortunately the fun wasn't quite over. Around another corner we found this cool little cave.

We started playing around with silhouettes, and then Randi told me I should go do a headstand. I accepted the challenge (and ended up with sand in my hair for days!). Ah, the goofiness. (Randi's photo)

From there we just had a short hike back out to the road and our vehicles. What a lovely canyoneering trip! The raindrops started falling as we walked back.

They stopped as we popped into the little store to get pickled asparagus and observe the gorgeous scenery.

The drive home was pleasant, and we all had a glow from a beautiful canyon trip.

When I got back, the kids and my husband had returned from a trip to playgrounds in Escalante and a drive along the Box-Death Hollow Road. We got out the bikes and biked down to some pools we had seen, where we discovered tadpoles.

We started wandering from pool to pool, following the channel.

In one we found mating frogs, and in another, frog eggs on a tumbleweed.

The kids couldn't resist burying themselves in the sand.

The storm clouds were gathering, but there was still a little bit of sunlight.

We trudged up the hill (Desert Girl insisting on pushing her own bike the entire way), and went to the delicious dinner. Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling was the theme, and the kids got into the spirit of things. Thanks so much to our wonderful hosts, Gary and Mike, for sharing their house, plus everyone who made the tasty food. Yum!

After dinner a brief hailstorm ensued. Then someone called out, "Look at all the waterfalls!" Sure enough, the previously dry rock now sported torrents of water. We watched as the streams joined and made boiling currents of water. Places we had hiked the day before were now a river. We could only imagine what was happening to all the tadpoles and frogs.

We were all in a safe place, so we could enjoy the view of this marvelous flash flood. And Desert Girl couldn't resist walking barefoot on the hail.

The night ended with some thumb wrestling.

What a day! But we still had one day left of our vacation...

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