Caves, Creeks, and Poisen Oak

This weekend’s adventure showed me once again, that you never know what you are capable of until you try it.

After a very long drive, our group of 8 teenagers and 6 adults find ourselves pulled over on the side of a back road, a loan pit toilet marking the start of our hike. I know we are hiking down to the creek, and down looks very, very steep! I have two thoughts. One is that it is going to be very difficult to get down, and two, once I am down I am going to have to come back up! The alternative is to wait by the hot cars for the next 5 or 6 hours until everyone is done. So down I go.

Once on the trail it is not so bad. I go slow and remember to keep my weight over my feet. I have been told this many times, but it did not actually sink in until my Grand Canyon Trip. Keeping your weight over your feet is sometimes counter intuitive. But it makes hiking so much easier when you get it.

Besides being steep, the trail is lined with Poison Oak. Poison Oak is a relative of Poison Ivy and I am allergic to it. For awhile I try to avoid the Poison Oak, but then I realize that is just not possible and resign myself to weeks of itching.

At the bottom of the climb we come to a creek, and a cave. The cave has a wide opening. Water rains from the roof of the cave. Near the back is a smaller hole. Apparently, once you go through the hole, the water gets deep. Our plan is to swim through the hole and into the cavern beyond and out the other side.

This is the entrance to the cave.  Near the back water is raining from the roof of the cave.
This is the entrance to the cave. Near the back water is raining from the roof of the cave. Can you see the darker part in the back? That is the entrance to the main cavern.

I have brought one of those cheap blow up “lounges” to float through the cave on. I know the water will be cold, but I have no idea how cold. I decide to just jump on my floatie and start kicking. When my chest hits the water I gasp and I can’t breathe! The water is so cold, the cave is so dark, I panic for a moment and turn around. I want OUT!

But then I tell myself this is not who I want to be. I take a couple of deep breaths, get back into the water, and enter into the dark hole. Oh my gosh the water is cold! A the “rain” coming from the top of the cave isn’t helping anything. Once inside the cavern I decide it is all worth it. The water does not feel shockingly cold anymore and I am past the “rain”. It is not completely dark, and I can see all the amazing cave formations.

Notice the formations on the walls of the cave.  The water here is very deep.  I can't touch the bottom.
Notice the formations on the walls of the cave. The water here is very deep. I can't touch the bottom.

Our group hangs out inside the cave for awhile. The kids find a way to climb up on a ledge. The adults float in the water. Those of us with waterproof cameras take pictures. Then it is time to see what is on the other side.

Warm sunshine ahead! But watch out, those rocks are slippery!
Warm sunshine ahead! But watch out, those rocks are slippery!

This side of the cave has lots of nice rocks to sit on. So we spend awhile just relaxing and enjoying the water and the cave. Then our group leader mentions that he heard there was another cave, “just a 1/2 mile down the trail”. Of course we all need to go.

Looking back at the cave I just floated through.
Looking back at the cave I just floated through.

Something to know, trail miles are not the same as city miles. The trail may have “only” been 1/2 a mile, but it went up and down and over rocks and under fallen trees. As always, Poison Oak was everywhere. And because no one had been there before, we we not sure exactly what would be ahead. That made the hike seem longer.

The "trail".  The plants in the foreground are blackberries.
The "trail". The plants in the foreground are blackberries.

Finally we find the second cave. Wow! This one is great. Not as large as the first cave and you can see all the way through to the other side. It is much rockier, so getting through is a combination of walking, climbing, and swimming.

Getting through this cave will not be easy!
Getting through this cave will not be easy!

The other side is beautiful. The kids have found a large pool, and they are jumping off of a ledge into the water. The adults are happy to sit in the sun. Until one adult decides to join the kids and jump into the pool, then we all do. Sometimes it is better to be a kid!

Sadly, time goes by and it is time to go back. Some of us decide to hike up the creek, instead of taking the trail. We think it might be easier. While we are going back up the creek, I recall all the movies I have watched where people are walking up a stream or a creek. They seem to walk so easily. Movie creeks are not like real creeks. I think movie creeks are level and sandy on the bottom. Real creeks have holes and boulders and very slippery rocks. They also have mosquitoes. I fall down again and again. So does everyone else. I think it would have been easier to take the trail back!

This should be an easy walk, right? WRONG!
This should be an easy walk, right? WRONG!

Once back to the first cave, it is time to tackle the trail back to the car. Then our leader “remembers’ there is another trail. It is longer, but not so steep. Funny thing, all the adults take the longer trail, all the kids take the steeper one. We don’t worry about the kids going off on their own. They are all older teenagers with lots of hiking experience. 2 of them are Eagle Scouts. They are good at looking out after each other and staying out of trouble. Plus we know there is no way they will let us get to the cars first, so they won’t have much time to get into trouble!

We arrive home tired and dirty. I wash well with Poison Oak soap. In a few days I will know how bad the Poison Oak really was!

I have survived another adventure with teenagers!
I have survived another adventure with teenagers!

Somebody Thinks I'm Awwsumm!

awwsumm blogger award
awwsumm blogger award

Hey Look! Marilynne at Marilynne’s World thinks I am an awwsumm blogger. Yea! Really I don’t deserve it. I don’t post often enough. But I will take it anyway.

Here are the rules for being an awwsumm blogger.
1 – List seven things that make you Awe-Summm.
2 – Pass the award on to seven bloggers you love.
3 – Tag those bloggers to let them know that they are now Queens of All Things Awe-Summm.
4 – Don’t forget to link to the queen that tagged you.
5 – If you would like, copy the pic and put it on your sidebar so everyone knows that you’re a queen.

OK, Now the Hard Part, Seven Things That Make Me Awe-Summ

  • I have finally learned that it is OK to try something and fail.
  • I have hiked out of the Grand Canyon, from the River to the Rim. It only took 7 hours!
  • I have a wonderful family. Parents, kids, sisters, inlaws, all wonderful!
  • I like to get people hooked on blogging, and have been known to give away domains just to get someone hooked!
  • When my daughter joined Venture Crew (Scouts) so did I, and I often go on outings without her!
  • I like to cook healthy food that tastes good, and my favorite thing to eat is McDonald’s double cheeseburger!
  • I have helped a lot of people manage their money better
  • That was actually hard! I might come up with a better list when I have some time to think about it.

    In the interest of getting this post up sometime before next year, I will be posting my awesumm bloggers later.

Indoor Rock Climbing

Getting started at being an “adventurous” type person isn’t easy when you have lived most of your life staying a little to far on the  “safe” side of life.   Call me silly if you like, but the idea of getting hurt just doesn’t appeal to me.  That is why  I really like indoor rock climbing for beginning adventurers.   It is amazingly safe, a lot of fun, takes less strength than you might think, and definitely has the cool factor going for it.

indoor rock climbing I wish this was a picture of me climbing the wall, but I have climbed to the top of that wall!  The climber in the picture is my daughter, and she made it all the way to the top.
She took the hard route.

Unlike outdoor rocks, the rocks at the indoor gym are color coded to show different tracks up the wall. Some tracks are easy, some are hard, some have special challenges. I am still working on the easy ones.  My daughter skipped right to the intermediate level routes.

You would think that you would need a lot of upper body strength to climb.  But at the beginner level you really don’t.  You use your legs to move up the wall.  Your arms and hands are just for balance and stabilization.

It really becomes fun when you learn to trust your rope.  When you trust your rope (and your belayer, the person who is holding the rope for you) you know you really can’t get hurt.  If you fall you will just swing a little bit, and that is all.  So you can try for tricky moves, or even jump to get over an obstacle, and if you miss it is no big deal.

The hardest part about indoor rock climbing, when you are forty something and have a few extra pounds, is that it is not a skill you can work out in private. Lots of people may be watching you, and not from the most flattering angle if you know what I mean! At the very least your belayer will be watching your every move. And then there is the fact that it seems like most of the people in the gym seem to be really lean and really fit. Rock climbing is a great sport for overall fitness. But for the most part everyone is the gym is really supportive of the newbies. They really seem to enjoy sharing their sport, and offering tips on how to get over that next obstacle.

You don’t really need to buy anything to get started with indoor rock climbing. You can rent everything you need at the gym. Wear clothes that are comfortable that you can mover freely in. The price for indoor rock climbing is pretty reasonable. For 2 hours of climbing, harness and shoe rental I pay around $15. The gym I go to includes a belay class for free, so you can bring a partner and take turns climbing and belaying. (The belayer is the person that holds the rope, their job is to make sure you don’t fall so be sure to bring someone you can trust will pay attention!)

Climb On!

Water Falls, Geocaching, and Venture Crew

If someone was looking for a way to become more adventurous, and to spend more time outdoors. I highly recommend Venture Crew.  There is only one catch, Venture Crew is a scouting group for boys and girls ages 14-22.   I am a few years older than that, but fortunately for me, my daughter is not. Our particular Venture Crew is a High Adventure Venture Crew, so we do a lot of fun stuff.  Today was one of those fun days.

As is typical for our group, there were almost as many adults as kids.  My daughter was sick, so she didn’t go but I did.  Another member of the crew wasn’t able to make it, but that didn’t keep her mom from coming either.  All in all we had 9 adults and 8 Venture Crew Members and 3 guests.

Hidden Falls

Our crew is working on visiting local waterfalls.   We are alternating biking and hiking. You can read a little bit about last month’s bike ride to Feather Falls in this post. Today was a much dryer hike to Hidden Falls.  Hidden Falls is not a large waterfall, only about 30 feet, but it is located  in a nice park, just about 5 miles out of town.  We had to hike 2 miles from the parking area to the falls, but the trails were well marked, and for the most part, not difficult at all.  We had lunch at the falls, and then headed back to town to do some Geocaching.

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.

Thanks to geocaching.com for the definition!

For today we had the co-ordinates for 3 different geocaches.   The first was in an old cemetery.   You would think, that with the co-ordinates it would be no problem finding the cache, but that is not the case.  The GPS units that we had were only accurate to 30 feet, so even when it said we were practically on top of the cache, we still had quite a bit of looking to do.  Eventually we found the cache in some bushes near the edge of the cemetery.   It was just a small green container. Opening it up we added our crew’s name to the list of those who had found the  cache, and then carefully put it back for the next person to find.

Our next cache was in a nearby residential neighborhood. Our clue told us that the cache was for an 8 year old boy, and that he was watching it all the time. Having just come from the cemetery this was a little spooky.  We were also told that the cache was on private property with permission of the property owners.   We narrow the area down to the front yard of a home, but we are reluctant to search too carefully.  Then a girl of about 10 comes out of the house, “are you guys geocachers? ” “We sure are!” She runs into the house and comes back with her mom, and then goes running down the street to get her brother. (The little boy in the clue!)  The kids are so excited we are searching for their cache.  It turns out their grandparents are avid geocachers and set it up for them.   We find the cache inside a small path light and add our names.  Here we leave a small toy soldier.  We have a great time talking with the mom and kids, and then we are off to find our next treasure.

Found the cache!  Nice hiding spot!
Found the cache! Nice hiding spot!

We were not able to find our last cache. We know it is near the local In-N-Out Burger and our clue is In OR Out, but with the freeway nearby, and all the cars going in and out of the In-N-Out, it just wasn’t much fun to look for. We console ourselves with burgers and animal style fries and reflect on a day well spent.

Today.Com No Longer Pays You To Blog

Just over a month ago I joined Today. com.  I get paid $1 for every post I write, and $2 for every 2,000 impressions.  So far I have written 33 posts and have just over 2000 unique impressions. Today has a minimum payout of $50, so  I am looking for my first check from them next month.

Last month I wrote a post on how Today pays you to blog.  I am very disappointed, in that they have just changed their terms.  New bloggers who sign up with Today.com will only be paid for impressions.  After a 30 day probation period, (during which you need to write at least 20 posts) you may be invited to the paid program.  Then again, you may not.

If you are already signed up with them you will still get paid to blog, but unfortunately, new bloggers won’t get the same deal.

Edit: It looks like new bloggers will have to go through a trial period before they can earn the $1 per post, but they will get the $2 per 2000 impressions right from the start.  Of course, if you are only paid for impressions you will have to get some pretty good traffic to your blog to hit the minimum payout amount in a reasonable time.