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Old 09-21-2010   #46 (permalink)
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What a great report!!! Thanks so much. Planning is half the fun, my family always rolls their eyes at me when I have every day planned. Trip Advisor has never steered us wrong.
Two summers ago we spent a week in Moab, Utah. We always like to gt a condo for a week and explore from there, your way seems so much more intersting, but it sure was nice to come back to a comfy condo every night, especially when it was 43 degrees ( celcius) and the AC had broken in the van............that's another whole story.

Now our girls are 15 and 12, the oldest in competitive golf so the days of the two week summer driving trips are over Enjoy while you can!!

Looking forward to the rest......
Thanks for the comments. Moab is great. Our oldest boy also plays competitive sports and this was the one window we had to fit this trip in. We knew it would just be getting harder.

I would have loved to stay in one place and unpack the car once. For this particular trip, it just wasnt a reality. You would spend way too much timie driving, to prevent you from actively take advantage of the scenery. The local experts on tripadvisor were very clear on that issue.

Next time I am in this area, I would now pick my one or two favorite spots and really delve into everything the location has to offer.
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Old 09-21-2010   #47 (permalink)
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In fact, I could spend a week in Zion alone without any issue. As you will see in my next posts, we did some really cool stuff. (Teaser) Yet, we didnt even begin to check this park out thoroughly.... and I wouldnt mind staying at teh Desert Pearl for a week
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Old 09-23-2010   #48 (permalink)
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So, as this was a trip of a lifetime, during my planning, I really wanted to try to plan some special and unusual sidetrips/tours. The Kayak trip previously described had been truly special. Zion seemed a pretty good locale to try to pull it off again. The terrain is very diverse, with canyon, mountain, desert, water etc…

A lot of my research kept leading to two tour companies. After a great deal of research, I decided upon Zion Adventure Company. After speaking with the good folks at Zion Adventure, I got a great feeling. It was a very soft sell. You could tell that these people choose a lifestyle they love as a job opposed to a job as a means to a lifestyle. All were both enthusiastic and laid back at the same time.

I wanted to do something that was sure to be memorable, unusual and in a beautiful setting. I was advised that the tour I had chosen would be a beautiful location outside of Zion National Park as there were no such guided tours allowed in the park. I was also encouraged to select this particular tour as it was rather unusual activity where I come from, would be very memorable and would expose all four of us to something totally new and different.

After this conversation, I looked for a review on trip advisor and found a post where the traveler said that after being home for two weeks, he could still not stop thinking about the very same tour that he had taken. I was hoping for the same end result.

So, GULP, without any experience, and without the blessing of my lovely Gretchen, I booked a tour to go CANYONEERING…you know… my family members hanging by ropes and repelling off of cliffs!!! Some sort of trip planning high had clearly gotten a hold of me!!!! We could have chosen mountain biking, off road vehicles, river tubing or even rock climbing.. but, we instead chose the Family Adventure Half Day Canyoneering Tour.

Here is how Zion Adventure describes canyoneering:

“Canyoneering refers to travel through or occupation of a steep narrow area requiring the use of a variety of wilderness techniques. It is transforming. It reaches in and brings out the child in all of us as it combines all levels of exploration: hiking, splashing through streams, scrambling over boulders, problem solving with peers, and rappelling through waterfalls into cold pools. “

I got the green light from Gretchen but sort of kept the kids in the dark so they wouldn’t psych themselves out of this. As this was towards the very end of the trip, my anticipation of this tour really grew. Couldn’t wait to do this and to see how my family members would respond.

tour and pics to follow……
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Old 09-23-2010   #49 (permalink)
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Oh my!! You are brave, I would have freaked out. I am proud that I white water rafted in BC and sort of in Moab and I also ziplined in Playa but what you have planned seems too much for me!

In fact, all our hikes damn near killed me ( I am afraid of heights). A couple of times I went to the area conservation officer and said whose idea of "moderate" are these trails?? I guess a good old prairie girl needs a little aclimatizing before hiking next time, the Eurpopean peeps looked like they were out for a Sunday stroll..........all very fun times though.

Looking forward to your pics.........
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Old 09-24-2010   #50 (permalink)
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What goes up, must come down.....

We met our guide, Scott Williams, at the steps of Zion Adventure Company at 7:45 a.m. He was waiting with a very nice young woman, a college student who was visiting Zion with her mother and happened to stroll into Zion wanting to try rock climbing. As there was no rock climbing tour available that fit her schedule, she very bravely joined our (family) tour.




We got fitted with helmets and a small backpack of gear. We hopped in a Zion Adventure SUV and were off. Scott described himself as an outdoorsman, an outdoor emergency first responder and teacher who didn’t like the structure of a classroom.

We traveled due south on the main road from Springdale, to the Town of Virgin, which is primarily known for what???? Anyone know?? (Quiz time and no cheating on the internet..)

At Virgin, we took a right on Kolob Terrace Road, which winds through some stunning landscape, jagged mountains, desert, prairies, tree groves, all scattered with ranches or cabins, maybe one per mile. It is quite remote. The Kolob Terrace is a section of Zion National Park that is removed from both the main canyon and the eastern section, except by lengthy hike, and as a result is substantially less visited.

Some pics of the area.










We pulled off the side of the road to the site of our tour:

SNAKE ALLEY:



Other side of the road... important for later in our trip....






We grabbed our packs and helmets and hiked in about 100 yards. While still at ground level, we began to get instruction from Scott. Training ground:



He went through our gear, its purpose, the knots we would be required to use, how to tether ourselves to our ropes, how to attach to anchors in the rock wall. Scott made it very clear that he was going to ensure that we were safe, while allowing us to learn and solve problems individually and as a group.

He would intervene immediately if we were at risk. He would not intervene unless we could not solve any problem we encountered individually or secondarily as a group and asked for his help. He also advised that we would hit a series of obstacles and should work to together to overcome them.

This fun tour was as much about self discovery, responsibility, trust and working together, as it was about thrills of something totally new, different, exciting and a bit extreme.

This also included Gretchen and I taking a “hands off” approach regarding our sons, letting them try to tie their knots and correct their mistakes. We each tied our knots and tethered ourselves while standing solid ground, correcting our mistakes and teaching each other. Scott would stop Gretchen and I when we tried to instruct our youngest before fully giving him the opportunity to figure out his error and correct it to ensure that he could safely hang off a cliff edge!!!! It was a great lesson for us and a great sense of pride for the boys. They were getting a load of responsibility. And we were backing off.

Once geared up and fully trained, we hiked and scrambled up a path and creek bed until we came to our first obstacle.



Smiles so far...



A cliff of about 50 feet, straight down, with anchor bolted into a cliff wall . We each took turns attaching our safety line, attaching to the anchor, attaching the rope tour harness, releasing our safety and letting ourselves down off the cliff. In essence, you turn backwards, let some rope out until you are sitting with your weight in your harness around your legs and hips, with your feet on the cliff edge and then lower yourself at your safe pace until you gently touch bottom. The first step off is a truly wild sensation. Here we go:







No pics of me on this one.....

Obstacle one completed successfully without any broken bones, cuts or tears….
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Old 09-24-2010   #51 (permalink)
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Oooh, that looks like fun! (So far...) Looking forward to seeing the rest of this adventure!
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Old 09-25-2010   #52 (permalink)
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Oooh, that looks like fun! (So far...) Looking forward to seeing the rest of this adventure!
Super fun. Thanks.
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Old 09-26-2010   #53 (permalink)
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On the remainder of this tour, we went through a series of four other obstacles.

The next obstacle we faced was a slight opening onto a slated rock face about fifteen feet downward. the trick was that there was a rock wall opposing the sloping rock and it prevented us from seeing the distance from the lower ledge to solid ground below. The only way to determine the extent of the descent was to scramble down the slope. Scott had us look around to realize that there was no anchor in the rock wall to attach ourselves to. We had find another way to safely creep to the edge, see what was there and get hauled back up in the event the drop was too long or impassable...

Our solution, human anchors...The group decided that I should scramble down, survey the scene and try to overcome the obstacle and they would hold my life in their hands as my anchor. Scott gave this plan his blessing and I attached to the rope and started to creep down this funnel shaped decline. Pics.....



and here are my trusty and interested anchors...my life in their hands... I had this vision that they were on their butts, feet out, with leverage against the rocks, struggling to hold on for the big boy....



plumbers crack ....




so, at this point I could see down and we were maybe eight feet from lip to the floor below. Problem was now room or way to safely drop down., or so I thought... I was stuck!!!! Scott had other ideas, ones that my body simply could not do. Somehow, I was to hold myself and reach my left leg across to the wall in front of me... NOT FLEXIBLE, SHORT LEGS...no way!!!

It required that I extend my leg to a point that I didn't think I could reach and if I didn't make it, it would be a hard landing. With a leap of faith, I reached my leg over and got hold and then was stuck again....I had to reach my right leg over as well, a little further.. I did it. I then scrambled down to the floor using leverage of the rock wall and the funneling slope I had been scrambling down in a sort of crab walk thing..




Once safely landed, Gretchen came down and then the others followed...WITHOUT a safety line. Scary but totally in control.

Charlie looking down into the funnel



Charlie with scott's encouragement




Nate:




Nate getting some help from Scott:



Its all about leverage:




Our next obstacles was a relatively short drop through a crack down about eight feet. You had to blindly search below for a foot hold. Scoot told us about the foothold but not that it was slightly out of reach,. We had to wedge our hips in the crevasse, and lower ourselves down until we found footing on one side, once that was done, you created leverage with your other foot on the wall and your arms out on each wall.

Nate:





View from above:






Last edited by flyingpig11; 09-26-2010 at 11:01 AM..
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Old 09-26-2010   #54 (permalink)
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Wow!! I am going to show my girls these pics ( after they wake up, whcih could be noon.....no activities until later today), there is no way on God's green earth that I could have done that, but I am sure the rest of my crew wouold have loved it!! Way to go............
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Old 09-26-2010   #55 (permalink)
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Wow!! I am going to show my girls these pics ( after they wake up, whcih could be noon.....no activities until later today), there is no way on God's green earth that I could have done that, but I am sure the rest of my crew wouold have loved it!! Way to go............

You definately could have done it. It is all about mindset.
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Old 09-26-2010   #56 (permalink)
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Although it was such a cool thing to do, there is literally no way to look cool in those helmets!!!
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Old 09-29-2010   #57 (permalink)
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awesome!!
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Old 10-01-2010   #58 (permalink)
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awesome!!
Thanks Riss. I really cant beleive that we did it. Frankly, I can't believe I signed us up for it.
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Old 10-01-2010   #59 (permalink)
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I am thoroughly enjoying your report... And am so thankful that I live in the west (I'm originally from New England, but have lived in Utah and Colorado for almost 35 years) and that those gorgeous places and many more are practically in my back yard!
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Old 10-02-2010   #60 (permalink)
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I am thoroughly enjoying your report... And am so thankful that I live in the west (I'm originally from New England, but have lived in Utah and Colorado for almost 35 years) and that those gorgeous places and many more are practically in my back yard!
You are definitely blessed to live in or near such incredible places. Glad you are enjoying this.
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