Our trek out to Boy Scout Hot Springs was the typical mixed bag. Dan told me exactly what to expect (six miles round trip; 80' climb somewhere along the way) and yet I was still totally unprepared. I think maybe because the beginning was so deceptively easy. Five minute drive from our house to a well-packed dirt road. A few minutes later, we're on a lovely sandy walk...
|...more pretty scenery...|
|...Miss L even found heart-shaped glass...|
And then, right when I was feeling really confident, BAM.
|"Don't worry, honey! It's easy!"|
For those who may not be aware, I have a problem with heights. I also have a problem with panic attacks. Climbing is really the perfect marriage for these two quirks.
Know what though? I did it. I just focused on finding good holds instead of on the fear (or the cold sweat or the nausea) and did it. It was pretty freaking amazing, actually.
|View from the first ledge.|
Unfortunately, the initial sheer drop was just the tip of the 80'. There was lots more down-climbing and scrambling to be had.
|Funny, it looks way less terrifying in photos.|
Dan had the bright idea of having the kids take photos of me climbing. You know, because I'd never remember it otherwise. Reluctantly, I handed over my (brand-new, been used approximately three times) camera. You know where this is going, right? One kid handed the camera to another kid, and someone (we'll never know who) dropped it.
|Final pic of the day. Or, you know. EVER.|
Good thing no one told me about the camera till after my adrenaline levels dropped a little.
So, you won't be able to see the other deathtraps we clambered down, namely slick limestone waterfalls with no holds to speak of, just some slightly moldy, more-than-slightly frayed rope to hang on to for dear life. Three (or was it four?) of those little numbers.
But you won't see any of the pretty stuff either, like the rich greens of the moss limned in pale mineral deposits dripping down the canyon walls. And pictures couldn't convey the heat radiating from the seeping stone formations, much welcome in the fading-sunlight/late-afternoon chill, or the slight salt smell that reminded me of California coast.
It was magical. Can't say for sure that it evened out the terror completely, but definitely magical.
If you're anything like me, all you want after a long, stressful day is to soak in a screaming hot bath and let the world disappear. The cool thing about a hot springs hike is, you get to do just that.
The less-cool thing is, you eventually have to climb back up everything that set your teeth on edge. Only this time, in the dark.
It was a little nightmarish. Not because I was scared (it's actually much less scary when you can't see how far you could potentially plummet to your death) but because my legs were so exhausted from the long scramble up the sandy hillside, I could no longer trust them. And you really, really need to trust your body when climbing.
With only one minor freakout while clinging spider-like to a rock (which consisted of me yelling "I'M FREAKING OUT!!" and Dan appearing next to me in approximately four seconds, saying "Hello, I'm Dan. I'll be your rescuer today!" and me saying "Oh my god I love you so much") we made it back to that first cliff. And up and over it, too.
On the sandy final leg, my legs started acting really weird, doing this funny kickback with every step. I felt kind of... well, zombie-ish. Jerky and uncontrolled.
"Does anyone else have zombie legs?"
No one else had them. Then, after about 15 more minutes of shuffling through deep sand, Miss G spoke up.
"Mama? My legs are like... kicking."
"I knew it. Zombie legs. They're contagious. Let me know if you start feeling hungry for brains. It's best if we decapitate you early on. You know, to prevent suffering."
(I really do talk like this to my kid. Generally she just glares in response. I suspect somewhere, way waaay down, she thinks I'm funny. Maybe.)
Miss L caught them too, a little bit later. I promised her the same mercy of proactive beheading, and she seemed appreciative.
We made it back to the car all in one piece (if we don't count the camera), renamed the hike to something more evocative, and cheerfully swore to never go there again.
It was the perfect way to start the new year.