Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sulfur Creek

We have, in our possession, a certain category of clothes that not many people have. Grover clothes.

When we were packing a few weeks ago, Andrew took some of his ruined shirts out and said, "Let's pack these. I never wear them."

"Grover," I said.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

It is quite the gamble to take clothes that you like to Grover. Therefore, everyone ends up in grungy (and sometimes interesting) outfits, suited for the red landscape. You've probably noticed that Rachel has a lot of pictures in that peach-colored onesie. That's because she wore it almost every day we were there. I'd just rinse it out after she was in her pyjamas and put her in it the next morning.

Since we knew that we'd be hiking in a "river of Chocolate," Andrew and I were sure to choose our least favorite clothes when we got ready for the hike. Sometimes the water is clear and you don't have to worry quite so much...but since we'd just had a flash flood in that area we played it extra safe.

We debated bringing Rachel with us, but in the end we decided to leave her back at the cabin with Grandma.

For the first little while, the hike was really easy and we were wondering why we hadn't brought Rachel. It was a meandering course through an old, dried up river bed.

Even when we reached Sulphur Creek, it didn't look all that treacherous. The water had subsided and it was a gentle trickle, not even covering our shoes.

"We should have brought Rachel," said Sister Gillespie. I had to agree with her.

But as we got farther on our way, the water got deeper and faster.

"When Suzy was a baby, we were playing in a stream about like this. I was holding her hand and she slipped and fell right under the water. If I hadn't been holding her hand we never would have found her--you couldn't see anything in the water. It's a good thing we didn't bring Rachel," Sister Gillespie amended her previous statement.

Looking down at my feet, I had to agree with her again. The water was so turbid that, even though it was still just past my ankles, I couldn't see a trace of my shoes. If Rachel fell over in the water, she'd be gone within minutes.

The hike also wasn't as easy as it had first seemed, or as people had remembered it in the past. The river was swifter, hiding the riverbed under a blanket of muddy water. The shore was muddy from the flood; everything was covered in a coat of fresh and slippery silt. We had two options.

The first was to walk blindly in the river, feeling your way with your feet, and risking a twisted ankle.

The second was to walk on the bank of the river, squishing through the muck, and risking losing a shoe (and twisting your ankle in the process).

Both paths guaranteed several slips, no matter how careful you were. For the most part, we chose to walk in the river since it didn't grab at our shoes, but when we were tired of stubbing our toes and tripping over rocks we'd hop out of the river to walk in the mud, only to tire of that after a few minutes and get back in the river.

Everywhere we looked, we saw evidence of the previous day's flood. We were glad to be walking in ankle deep water, instead of wading in up to our waists.

Around the first waterfall, there is a tree affectionately called "The Love Tree." This picture doesn't show it the greatest, but the tree actually spells the word love. Andrew and I are filling in for the O, but you can clearly see the L, V, and E. Well, you could see the E, except that it's kind of cut out of the picture.

The first waterfall was pretty easy to hike around. The second waterfall, though, was much more tricky. This was when I was really glad that we hadn't brought Rachel with us.

Reid and me in the second waterfall

There's quite a big gap between the second and third waterfalls. We were beginning to wonder if there really was a third one at all. Finally, there was. And then I was really, really, really glad that we hadn't brought Rachel.

The easiest way to get down the waterfall is to slide down. Poor Matthew was too scared to slide down and so was passed down the cliff with the help of his mom, Brother Gillespie, Andrew, and Reid. He ended up banging into the side, causing some tears. I couldn't see myself sending Rachel down either way without having a fit.

Three hours later and we limped safely, and sorely, to the Visitor's Center and happily reunited with our baby. We rinsed off our socks and shoes as best we could, finding handfuls of rocks in our shoes and spraying red water all over the place. Andrew ended up throwing away his stylish pink socks, but I kept mine to add to our stash of Grover clothes. I may need those socks again.


  1. Wow! what a hike! I probably would have had to been passed down the cliff as well. I am such a wimp!

  2. That looks like so much fun despite the flood. Sounds like you guys had fun. I bet Rachel was so excited to you two after being apart for some time. :( Now I want to go there!