Sunday, September 23, 2012

It looked better from the bottom, honest

Today Dale and I were the BEST parents.... and we made a horrible parenting decision.

There was a moment, today, where I sat, frozen in abject terror, on a steep mountain hillside, trying to decide if going down on my ass, with rocks flying past my head and my children screaming and crying behind me with about 20 people watching (with fierce judgement in their eyes and condescension written on their faces. I think it was judgement and condescension,  but they were actually all the size of ants and probably didn't even notice; if they were deaf, they didn't notice, so they probably did notice, unless they thought the kids were mountain lions screaming, fingers crossed!) OR riding down the hill in a helicopter, would be scarier (OK... a helicopter rescue was hardly necessary, but it really felt like an option at the time). The terror did abate and sense did prevail, however and I chose option A (I accidentally wrote B here, but caught it in the nick of time.That, would have been a funnier story, but alas... there were no helicopters involved... or rather, THANKFULLY, there were no helicopters involved....

I'm getting ahead of myself.

Dale and I decided that we'd better enjoy this fabulous weather we are having (winter could strike without notice)  and chose to do another hike in the Rockies. Plus, Eli informed me , Saturday night, that he had a science project due Monday that involved deciduous trees. Where better to find deciduous trees than a hike: in a forest.

We opted for an easier hike than last week. We hike, bike and otherwise force our children into the great outdoors, rather expecting, a little whining, a little complaining and a little "are we there yet"ing, but felt that we would try to avoid this as much as possible, this time. We chose, based on a quick perusal of our hiking books, (OK, they are more like walking books, but I'm pretty sure one or two actually uses the word HIKE in the title.) an easy hike into an area called Grotto Canyon. This hike is, as advertised, a nice walk/hike through a forest and up a canyon to a small waterfall. The only false advertising was the mention of Indian Pictographs, which we did not find, but that, I suppose, doesn't mean they are not there. Walking through the canyon also made me think that maybe I need to take up rock climbing again... The climbing through the canyon  looked AMAZING (for me, anyway: I don't really know what I'm talking about, but there were a lot of routes).

Grotto Canyon is a popular hike and we can see why. It's a lovely hike (no groomed trails with stairs, bridges and handrails is a hike, damn it!). We made it to the falls without issue and decided to continue (most people turn around at the falls) to see the hoodoos.

"waterfall"... It might deserve the name in the spring?

Most of the hike was like this

There is the hoodoo... little did we know what horror awaits

still in a good mood on the way back, couldn't be that bad, eh?

This is where our parenting minds slipped .... and nearly our whole family with them, to our deaths or  near dismemberment, I am certain.

At the base of one of the hoodoos is a cave and the kids REALLY wanted to hike up there.....

The picture makes it look easy and it really did look easy: from the bottom.

I stayed at the bottom with the dogs (They didn't need to bump someone off the hill or start a small rockslide) and Dale took the kids around the side and up, it looked the easier, albeit longer way..... They made it to the level of the cave without much difficulty and started to traverse across to the cave entrance. They were nearly there when the crying started and I, in my "mother bear" mode, leapt straight up the rock face to the rescue (no circuitous method for me!), looked down and froze with my heart in my mouth. And the first rambling paragraph of this post ran through my head, along with a lot of other fatalistic thoughts about news stories featuring dumb-ass parents, climbing with their kids, falling from a cave and being flown by STARS air ambulance to the nearest hospital. I did manage to appear, on the outside, slightly nervous, but mainly, calm  (kids are great for helping me control hysterical fears... lead by example and all that crap or something, I forget). I told Dale I couldn't quite make it all the way to help (I was about 4 feet away) and slowly tried to crab walk down the loose boulder/rock slope. Dale, did, somewhat manage to keep his cool (the kids were wailing and crying and generally NOT paying attention to the very important instruction of NOT falling to their deaths) and, after what seemed like four hours,  we did get to the bottom. I can definitely say that we won't be doing that again. 

I have no good pictures at the top to show you how scary it really was (Dale had the camera for the awesome cave shots he was supposed to get).... I do have a couple of pictures off my phone, perhaps they'll tell the tale? I took these from about the place hidden behind the middle tree on the bottom of the above picture: about 1/3 of the way up the slope. See those little grey blobs at the base of the cliff? Those are the rest of my family members trying not to die.

The kids were scarred for life (as they informed us), for about 3 minutes and then they got over it, mostly...... Chey did have a harder time and kept talking (loudly to anyone that would listen, it IS a busy place) about how we made a BAD CHOICE to hike to the cave.... Fortunately, a ladybug cupcake saved the day.

Long story short... We will do Grotto Canyon again (it was beautiful!), but we'll stare up at the cave from the bottom..... 


  1. We were hiking there today too! It was a lovely "hike". We heard something about a cave but decided to turn around at the waterfall. Thank goodness, I guess, as I'm 5 months pregnant, my 4 year old was walking and my husband had our 2 year old on his back!
    I'm so glad you guys made it down safely!!

    1. It's not that much farther and it is pretty.... I'd skip the cave until the kids are older though: like, adult, older ;)