Cody was up at 5:45 which was much too soon since the campers a few sites down that joined us after we had gone to sleep were up until at least 3. The kids quietly amused themselves until 7:20 and then the giggling could no longer be contained. Brooke was busy with dressing and accessorizing her American Girl doll this morning while Cody was busy working on his Lego creations. Scott had checked on the towels we had put on the line from swimming at the falls last night. He said, “Nothing is dry. No surprise. This isn’t the west.” Brooke didn’t skip a beat and said, “West is best.” Score! Scott has been on a quest for years to get the kids to fall in love with the west. Then they can go to school out there and live out there long term. Then we can retire out there. (Lynn W. you are an inspiration!)
When we are camping, even when we are privileged to have flush toilets, there are sometimes critters waiting to greet us. We filled the packs with the climbing gear, food to snack on, and water. We were off by ten minutes to ten. We hiked until 10:30 looking for the perfect climbing spot. We don’t climb often enough to pick routes that are too complicated. Scott had researched using books and the on-line Mountain Project to find some 5.5 – 5.7 routes. The climb to get to the climb was sweat inducing even at 10 in the morning. Scott let us rest at 10:30 and went further down the slope to try to find our climb. It never fails, the kids are too exhausted to keep going on the regular path, but the minute we stop they are excitedly jumping all over making their own paths. Cody’s paths were getting far to close to the high ledges. Brooke finally convinced him to sit next to her. We rested ten minutes and then hiked another ten minutes to our climbing spot on Rocket Slab. We climbed Gravity Boots and Afterburner.
Brooke had her first taste of climbing for the first time at the age of three on Grapefruit Rocks in the White Mountains of Alaska. She has had quite an incredible ability to scurry up rock ever since. Scott spent time discussing safety with the kids.
These routes had no access to the top via a walking a path. This meant that Scott couldn’t top rope the routes. Meaning a few more grey hairs for me as I watched him lead climb and have no rope to catch him until he reached the first bolt and was attached securely to the first bolt, twenty feet up in the air. He hadn’t done this type of climbing since we were eighteen at Enchanted Rock in Texas. This meant cleaning the rock, or taking the rope down, was a little dicey too. He could have dropped the rope from the top as he was taking it out. As the person belaying Scott, or feeding him the rope and making sure he wouldn’t fall too far, it was rather nerve racking to be responsible for his safety.
Brooke makes me laugh. Scott was trying to give Brooke pointers as he climbed up, so that she would have a route to follow up. Brooke would look up at the rock and Scott’s suggestions occasionally, but she was much too busy playing in the rocks and dirt with Cody. When she finally did get up to the rock, which seemed like forever because she was so excited, she saw which way Scott was suggesting and decided to go her own way to the top, and did so in under five minutes. Then she did it again just as quickly.
We were trying out a new kids’ helmet and shoes today. The shoes were a recommendation from a grandma and grandpa we ran into last year at Devil’s Lake when we went climbing. The monkey shoes have fasteners on the sides made of Velcro that allow for multiple size ranges. We were able to loosely fit the shoes to Cody as well as have the perfect fit for Brooke. Cody was not as excited about climbing. He humored us by trying a little bit, but he was not enjoying it.
Scott could climb part way up on the side of the second climb and took a few pictures of Brooke. On the second photo above you can see me down below belaying Brooke.
We encouraged Cody to try climbing again. He tried only because we told him we would go to the waterfall to swim and play with the rocks again after he did. The kids both worked on frog hopping as they repelled back down. That was probably Cody’s favorite part of climbing, well that and throwing rocks. Cody is in an anti-posing phase, so it may be a pose with a rock, but it is still an adorable smile so I took it!
This was a celebration shot of Scott. He had removed one rope and was almost down and ready to pull through the second rope. No falls without a rope! Scott had me take the middle picture up above. It was the kids handprints after they put their hands in the chalk bag. After we cleaned up and shoved everything back in our packs to bring back down we had a twenty-five minute walk to the falls. We need to remember to bring two backpacks next time, so Scott isn’t caring a fifty pound pack. We got to the falls about 3:45.
Scott wanted to go even further than just getting near the waterfall. He swam below and behind the waterfall. I waited until he came back and did the same. While I was out there whooping and hollering and enjoying the breathtaking refreshing icy water, another guy from Florida came out. I encouraged him to go behind the falls and said he couldn’t, he was too afraid. He said he loved the ocean, but lakes scare him. I told him I occasionally still worry about the Lochness Monster when I swim in triathlons. He finally went under the waterfall, but wouldn’t go behind it. Then we both decided to head back. That’s when he told me he was a lifeguard. Funny guy.
When I got back to the shore Brooke wanted to touch the falls, but I had no idea how I was going to get her out there when I can’t support her swimming when I can’t touch the bottom. She and I maneuvered over the rocky shoreline in and out of the water and made it. Being Brooke she still wasn’t satisfied. She wanted to touch the falls. I got her as close as I could while I could touch. She can swim very well, but she was nervous and kept jumping on my head when she was scared. Thankfully, Justin, the lifeguard, came back. He promised Brooke he would be there for her in case she needed him. She started out swimming just fine and then I saw the fear take over her eyes. I was firm in telling her she was fine and she was not going to hold onto me. She looked at Justin. He smiled and she kept going. She did it! On her own! She touched the waterfall! Sometimes the kindness of strangers changes your day in unexpected ways.
Even though the kids were exhausted they still managed to jump up and down on the bridge to try to turn me green.
We left the falls at 4:40 and had another fifteen minute hike back up to the pavilion to make dinner. Cody worked on building with Legos while Brooke worked on an interpretative shadow dramatization.
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