Girl On A Rope

Welcome to the latest iteration of my blog, this time about my adventures in canyoneering and all things outdoors. Although this might sound like a trite statement, my journey here has been very long and taken many turns. I grew up in New York City, with no access to nature, except in the summers. When I was a child, my grandparents would take me to the Catskills for the entire summer, where I got to be a tomboy, roam the woods, bike for miles and go swimming in the local lakes. It was one of the greatest gifts anyone ever gave me.

By the time I was in high school, I was determined to be an ecologist. My parents thought it was a strange career choice, but they supported me in my desire to get an education in my chosen field. I got into Cornell University and finally was able to spend time in the woods and go camping for the first time in my life. I also met my husband, Max, during my sophomore year, and we are still together today.

When we graduated, we moved to Seattle so Max could work in computer science and I got my Masters of Forest Ecology from the University of Washington. I spent many years doing field work in parks and forests in the Seattle area. About twelve years ago, I realized that I was burned out from working at a non-profit and needed to take a sabbatical to take care of my own health and recharge. I also realized that my healing was going to involve being in the outdoors on a regular basis. Unplugging and spending time in nature is vital to my physical and mental health.

Max and I started exploring the beautiful nature of Washington state and beyond. We started hiking every weekend, expanding our stamina and range into neighboring states. We explored California, Arizona and Oregon on our vacations. In 2015, we found ourselves in Utah and fell in love with the immense diversity of the state. We traveled all over the state in subsequent years to see the national, state and local parks and public lands.

Right before COVID hit, we got interested in canyoneering and went on a few guided excursions. Since that time, we’ve spent all our vacations canyoneering and learning new technical skills. You can say we’re hooked 🙂

Canyoneering is a sport that combines hiking and climbing skills but has its own technical gear and rules. In general, you hike to the top of a canyon and make your way down using ropes and harnesses to rappel down dry falls and downclimb the smaller obstacles. Often there are pools and other watery obstacles that you need to get through or avoid. In the southwest, there is not a lot of flowing water in the canyons, except in extreme cases of flash flooding or heavy snow melt out. In the Pacific Northwest, Europe, Costa Rica and many other parts of the world, the sport is called canyoning and involves descending streams or waterfalls in flowing water. It requires a different set of skills and mindset than in dry canyons.

About a year ago, we realized that 25 years in Seattle was enough. It’s too hard to get outside during the rainy winters and we were out of shape for most of the year. We also weren’t getting any younger. We went ahead and purchased a second home in the tiny town of Kanab, Utah, just 45 minutes from Zion NP and next to some of the best outdoor recreation on the planet. My life has been extremely different since we moved to Utah for the winter/spring season. We work during the week but are canyoneering and having adventures every weekend. It’s a privilege and a gift to be able to drive a couple hours in any direction and see some of the most amazing geology on earth.

In this blog, I will be sharing our adventures with you. Buckle up and welcome aboard!