On Friday we flew into Vegas and met my parents at the airport and headed to an awesome tapas bar (not topless...tapas). Annie threw a fit b/c she was exhausted and I ended up in the van putting her to sleep, but what I did get to taste, and the 3 sips of wine I got were extraordinary!!
Saturday we met up with the rest of my moms friends at REI and headed to the Hoover Dam to take the tour. I tell you, it's a DAM fine DAM (at least that was the going joke). We traveled down into the dam to see how it worked. Annie was great on the tour except for the 10 minute movie they made us watch, she was more into walking up and down the theatre stairs. After that it was off to Kingman for the night. Joyce scored us some SWEET rooms at the Best Western. That evening we celebrated my moms 50th birthday at the tastiest little mexican joint in Kingman, which has become a bit of tradition for the Happy Hikers (my moms hiking group).
The next morning it was up and out early (NOT!!). We got off at 9am, and were at the rim to start hiking by 11. The hike down was amazing. You start on the top of this huge cliff and traverse through these insane switchbacks. At the bottom you get into this red rock canyon and follow it's bottom for about 6 miles. The hike in took us about 4.5 hours. We stopped once for about 15 minutes to have our turkey sandwiches that my mom made for us the night before. Annie was excellent on the hike, she talked, slept, babbled, ate, pointed, and laughed. Not a single fuss or cry, she was great. Arriving into Supai villiage is always a bit of a shock, their standard of living seems lower than ours, allthough it grows on you, especially when you realize that a big part of it is that they don't like to pick up their trash. Since I was there in 1999 the only new addition I saw was an LDS church. That surprised me a little bit. The locals were much friendlier this time, they would look at you and talk to you, a big change from when I was there in 1999. We got a lot of comments on Annabelle, and the fact that we brough a baby down there. I think people thought we were either crazy, or really cool, I'll take the later. We headed to the lodge to check in. It's primative, but has everything you need, clean beds and a bathroom. I then went to the store to secure some whole milk for Annies bottles, they kindly took me to the back to get a half-gallon. I stopped by the cafe to see if they had made the birthday cake that I called and requested for mom...they did. After some cleanup and a little rest Mom, Day, Troy, Annie and I headed out for a little walk and then over to the cafe for dinner. Mom was utterly surprised by the birthday cake, complete with candles!! It was a HUGE cake, well decorated, and tasted like a homemade brownie. We shared with everyone in the entire cafe, and still had cake to spare! Troy and Annie hit the hay early and I stayed up and chatted with my parents.
Monday we all got up ealry, had breakfast and headed for the trail to the falls. They were just as amazing as I remembered. Rather than describe it, here are the photos.
The first and most heavily photographed is Havasupai Falls.
The next fall we went to was Mooney falls. To get to the bottom of this fall you have to descend these ropes and chains and there is some definite exposure involved. Troy, Dad and I were the only ones to brave it. While dad was at the bottom he got some great shots of Mooney falls. There was a rope swing there, which dad and I just had to try (Troy was too cool to join in on the sillyness). It was great to swim in the water. Very refreshing, not too cold. My mom took care of Annie at the top of Mooney falls while Troy and I braved the ropes and chanes, so no worries, she was safe too!
After Mooney falls we headed back up towards the lodge and stoped by Navajo falls on they way. They are a little hidden, but well worth the search!
After Navajo falls we were all pretty pooped and Annie needed some running around time, so we headed back to the lodge for some R&R until dinner. We had a really nice mello dinner at the cafe, no cake this time!
Tuesday was our hike out day, and everyone was a little worried. It's a LONG 8 miles and it ends with those nasty switchbacks that I talked about earlier. Troy and I woke up ready to hit it hard. I set out with a good strong pace. We hiked about 1.5 miles hard when a group of three; Roger, Steve and Roger's wife Lori caught up to us. They seemed nice so we stayed with them, and proceded to have a great hike out together. They were awesome people and loved to hike. Roger and Lori are from Idaho, and Steve was from Laughlin, NV. We had a great time hiking fast and chatting about the outdoors. We were out of the canyon in a little under 3 hours, and Annie slept pretty much the entire trip! We swapped phone numbers at the top and headed to the van to get some Gatoraid for the Happy hikers. We saw them coming up the trail about an hour later, apparently they set a great pace too!! After that we had a long drive back to Vegas to drop Deb and mom at the airport and to switch rental cars.
Wednesay Troy, Annie and I woke up ready to head to Vegas. We did some shopping at Whole Foods, found ourself a new cooler becacuse the styrafome just didn't cut it, and we were off! After an uneventful drive we arrived in Springdale, Utah, the gateway to Zion National Park. RED ROCK ABOUND! After checking into the Watchman campground I realized that I forgot fuel for our camp lantern so we headed into town via the shuttle system. We found our fuel, but even better, we found a guide company that was willing to take us for a 1 day rock climbing class the next day. Troy and I were pretty avid climbers pre Annabelle, but all of that has changed since her arrival. I was a little nervous that the guide didn't know what he was getting himself into, but I let those thoughts rest for the night. Our first night in the Watchman campground was nasty. I had trouble making dinner due to the evil wind. Troy and I ended up eating in the packed rental car (a PT cruiser) while Annie slept in the tent. The nights rest was no better. It was cold, and I mean COLD. Annie got chilly and ended up on my sleeping pad, in my sleeping bag, so I was mostly uncovered. It was cold, crowded, and slightly miserable.
Thursday morning at 6 we pealed ourself out of our bags, and packed up to go climbing. When we met the guide, Jonathan, all my worries went away. He had a 2.5 year old son, and was very concerned about Annabelle. We agreed that it was too cold to climb and that we should meet back at 1pm to do an afternoon climb instead. Good Idea!! We headed to Oscars (AWESOME) for breakfast (first Huevos Rancheros ever, and they were to die for) and discussed the option of getting a room in Springdale and ditching the camping idea due to the miserable night. We decided YES, and were able to find a Best Western right down the street that was within our budget. After a little regrouping in the hotel we headed out to do a hike and start to see Zion. We hiked the Watchman trail (about 3 miles), broke down and packed up the tent and cancled our camping reservations. After doing all that it was time to meet Jonathan for our climbing trip. He took us just outside of the borders of the national park to this great local climbing spot. Annabelle had lots of nice, flat, safe ground to paly around on. We took turns climbing 4 different routs, and we had an ABSOLUTE BLAST. Thank you Jonathan, he made our day great. It was wonderful to talk with him about getting into the outdoors with children and how your outlook changes on life and adventure. He was a very cool dude! And for once we were able to meet someone that does more outdoors with their kid that we do. He expaned our set of possibilities, I love that! That evening after the climbing, Troy put Annie to bed while I picked up some pizzas from Pizza and Noodle Co. (very good). We had a nice night in the hotel room, eating pizza and catching up on cable television!
Friday morning after I slept in, we decided to do the infamous Angels Landing hike. This hike is only 5 miles, but it has 2,500 elevation gain. It's up up up, and then some more UP. The last portion is a series of steps and chains that you climb with your hands, with extreeme exposure on both sides of you. WE ATE IT UP. Everyone thought I was a goddess for bringing Annabelle up it. In all honesty, I love heights, I love exposure, I have great balance, and Annie was GREAT!! We are so lucky to have such a go-go kiddo. The view from the top was clearly the best in the park (except for some of the views the rock climbers must have on their multi-day routes). That was about it for the day. We caught a little movie in the visitor center about Zion on the way back to town. Troy picked up some Chinese for dinner. I had a Motzarella sandwhich with some tomatoes and basil, yummmmm. Annie went down easy after all the adventure she had!
Saturday we decided that we wanted to hike "The Narrows". This is a famous area of Zion where the Virgin river runs down this slot canyon. People like to hike up the slot canyon, but in places it's wall to wall water. So we rented these really cool boots, dry pants, and walking sticks from the guide company and off we went. These items were invaluable, and I woulnd't do the narrown without them...period. We did a 7 mile round trip hike in The Narrows and it was spectacular. There were places where I was up to my thigh in water with my giggeling baby on my back. I felt like the stud woman that I was. Troy enjoyed the peacefulness as well. At times we had 2,000 feet of rock towering about our head and the river was only 50 feet across. It was amazing, and fun, and mysterious, sometimes errie, other times euphoric. I would recommend this hike to anyone, but only when the water is low. I would consider October to be the OPTIMAL time to visit Zion! That evening we treated ourselves to Hamburgers at Oscars. They were amazing and the perfect post-hike treat!
Sunday (my birthday) came too quickly and it was time for us to trek back to Vegas and fly home. We arrived in Vegas way to early, due to the time change, so we headed over to Red Rocks State Park and did a hike in the climbing capital of Nevada. We sat and watched some climbers and salivated all over the rocks. Oooh, I want to climb again!! After that we returned the car, caught our flight and we were home by 9. Troy and I had a blast playing Mario Cart against each other on the bus ride home from the airport while Annie slept in her car seat. It was a great birthday, and an even greater trip!