Part of me wishes I could have experienced the flowing sandstone walls of the deep slot canyons and the abrupt transition from high-desert to alpine forest earlier, but my love for the falls comes from the sound of my children splashing through the abundant wet sections and their laughter echoing through the canyons.
Most recently, I hiked the 4.8-mile-round-trip trail with my little family, a great friend, and a new one. We herded six children, from 2 years old to 8, through the canyon, across a few low but narrow ledges, and up the slippery rickety logs some call ladders.
We took turns ensuring the children stayed safe, which allowed one or two of us to turn our attention to the aspens jutting from the side of seemingly inhospitable stone walls. The waterslide was farther than my children had gone before and the time came when they needed to be carried. We brought them down on our shoulders and in our arms, occasionally playing the parts of their horses, trotting through the stream.
I’ve grown quite fond of the flip-flop tan lines on my feet. I can gauge my summer activities by the contrast created. It’s probably not a good idea to hike in them, which is why I usually take them off when in the water or traversing the smooth slippery stones covering portions of the trail. Most online resources recommend that hikers wear hiking boots – my bare feet work better.
My phone didn’t get service once I crested the first hill. As a result, I was left talking with friends and family, looking up and paying attention to the world around me. It’s sometimes easy to forget that the world has a smell or the simple pleasure of the sun’s sting.
My backyard was a mountain at age 8; my sons don’t get that. My 8-year-old plays PS4 as much as possible; my 2-year-old runs around the house in lieu of the unfenced yard flanking a fairly busy street. I spend most of my time writing.
We get to be wild and free when we’re hiking. Children get to rediscover the lost art of imagination. They get to wrestle snakes—sticks— and ride mossy rocks and logs like Tarzan. I get to act strong and transform from reporter to centaur, just because. They get to be children, and I get to be daddy.