Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dahling, You Look Gorge-ous!

With the perfect weather and cool temps, we took the opportunity to take a major hike at Tallulah Gorge. Hiking is a huge priority for us, and so is teaching G to be a safe and responsible hiker. This was a strenuous (for adults!) almost 4 mile hike, most of which is scrambling over rocks in a river. In many places, we had to sit on our behinds, take off our shoes, and scoot, lest we slide down into the river. In other places, we had to "leap frog" over the rocks: one of us goes forward, the other passes Chip over and catches up. Oh, and yes, dear Matthew slipped into the water at one point, but not until the very end.

We could not have been more proud of our son. Not only was he able to stay human the entire time (if you know him, you know that he is usually an alien), but he listened to all of our safety advice and scrambled like a pro. He even suggested some routes to try when we were stuck, and he got us out of some difficult situations! At the end of the 4 1/2 hour hike, we had to climb over 500 steps back to the top, and he did them all by himself.

Permits are required to hike the floor of the gorge for safety reasons, and the guideline is that children must be at least 8 years of age. The ranger who helped us said that we know our child and that if we think he can handle it, he would let that be our call. Either he thought we looked prepared (there weren't many people around with Camelbaks, actual hiking shoes, and the whole nine), or he was very trusting. Either way, we are grateful to him for allowing us to take the challenge with the Chipster.

One of the high/lowlights of the trip was that as we were passing through the gate to the "permit only" section of the park, we saw three people getting handcuffed for possession of marijuana. The funniest part of the whole thing was that those poor suckers had to walk all those 500-some steps with their hands behind their backs! Ha!!!

A little trivia about this gorge: part of Deliverance was filmed here (but don't worry, it is ANYTHING but creepy there), Karl Wallenda performed a famous tightrope walk across it in 1970 (although he was the second person to do so), and the persistant trillium (an endangered, or more specifically, critically imperiled species) flourishes here.

Here are some photos and a video of our amazing day. There are a couple of Oceana Falls that make them look flat, but they were very intimidating and pretty dangerous if one isn't careful. Also, when you look at the photo of the menfolk on the suspension bridge, you can see the water at the very, very bottom of the photo.

One more thing: lest we think this was the biggest deal ever, Mom and Dad totally showed us up. They are hiking the GRAND CANYON today!!! Can't wait for those pics!