For our first full day in Zion I booked us on a half-day canyoneering guided tour in the sandstone canyons of Utah. This was met with some skepticism and reluctance from my guys since we haven’t done anything like this as a family before. I have been eagerly waiting for my youngest son to be of a certain age that would allow us more freedom to participate in adventurous activities. He is now five and more fearless than the rest of us, so I seized the moment.
There are a handful of guide companies available to choose from in Springdale, but after extensive research I chose Red Desert Adventure. Our guide was named Jefe and he promptly picked us up at 7:00am in front of our hotel.
We had a chance to get to know Jefe during the ride to our starting point. Jefe was attentive and patient with the kids and answered their many, many questions. He offered some local knowledge and brought us up to speed on what to expect, and put us at ease immediately. Most importantly he made us feel like we were in good hands, so we were off to a great start!
Jefe gave us instruction on the basics of rappelling and ran us through safety procedures once more before the moment of truth. He took me and my husband aside to ask that the parent with the least fear go first in order to set the tone for the kids. My husband nominated me. Oh boy. One of my virtues is to remain cool under moments of stress, or so I’m told. That virtue was about to be tested as I was roped in and told to step out over a ledge and lean back with only a rope to support me. Umm, ok. I may have looked cool, but inside I wondered what circumstances in my life had led me to this moment. Did I really pay to fear for my life?
Deep breath and feet over ledge. I have never been so attentive to someone’s instruction. My life depended on Jefe and no other voice mattered. I looked down. Dang it I was high up. Did I mention I have a slight fear of heights? How the heck were my boys going to do this if I was turning chicken shit? I had to pull myself together and find it within me to smile and tell them how AWESOME it was! and as I made my way down one step at a time I realized that yes, this was pretty flippin’ awesome. I was here right now doing something amazing. In this moment I was conquering fears and living my story.
My oldest son was next. I told him to listen to only Jefe. I was silently willing him down.
And finally it was time for my youngest to come down with Jefe close behind spotting him.
Each rappel was different and required a new set of skills. As we became more confident, Jefe skillfully led us through more challenging courses.
The kids fell in love with Jefe and are eager to go back for more adventure fun. I have recommended Red Desert Adventure to several friends and told them to make sure they get Jefe. He really made this once in a lifetime adventure so special for me and my family.
We created a lifetime of memories on this special adventure-filled day. We pushed these boys physically and mentally and they showed us their resilience and courage. I was truly inspired by my boys and was in awe of their fearlessness and willingness to take a leap of faith. I hope they walk away from this experience knowing that they can reflect back on this day and get through any challenging situation.