Even though Rachel whined about not being able to get up because her "eyes just [weren't] working because they just [couldn't] open and so they [couldn't] see anything" and asked that I let her sleep longer, I dragged her out of bed and forced her to go potty.
And thus I didn't have to wash out anything in the shower all day.
Clearly this was the start of our best day yet!
I helped Rachel get dressed and then directed her to the pavilion to get some breakfast. Along the way she sat down in the sandbox and covered her legs with sand. Then she stood up and said, "There! Now that I'm all dirty I can eat breakfast!"
That's right. We wouldn't want to get too clean now, would we?
Ironically today was probably our "cleanest" day of camping yet. We hiked Capitol Gorge while everyone else hiked Calf Creek. And there was no mud.
Capitol Gorge is a little hike that passes the Pioneer Registry (which I also heard referred to as the Pioneer Petroglyphs) and leads to "the tanks," which are just little pools of water up in a canyon. It's 1.25 miles in and 1.25 miles out.
Rachel hiked the whole way. It's really a pretty easy hike for most of the way—just through an old river bed and/or the old highway 24 (which was unpaved and ran through this canyon until 1962 when the new highway along the Freemont River was made/paved). Anyway, the point is that it's mostly just a flat, even hike, though there are huge boulders along the way, all of which Rachel called "Circle of Life Rocks."
She would run up and stand on the top and say, "Circle of Life!" before jumping off. She'd even say that one rock was more "circle of life-y" than another. By the end of the day Miriam was picking it up, too, and saying, "Cir-tur uh lice!" just as gleefully as her sister.
Rachel was much braver than she was at Goblin Valley. She kept climbing up the sides of the canyon into crevices and caves. It was quite a funny change. She wasn't all brave, though, as you can see...
She got stuck a time or two and had to be helped down, but most of the time she was able to make it to her goal.
She was such a goofy kid through the whole hike. Every time we told her we were going to take a picture she'd strike a silly pose with her tongue hanging out of her mouth or her legs all wonky.
She was in a really good mood and didn't complain once the whole time we were hiking in. Hiking out was a different story, but hiking in was great! I suppose part of this was because Miriam was strapped to my back the whole time we were hiking and she was so quiet that were it not for the feeling of being severely top-heavy I nearly forgot she was there, which meant that I could focus more of my attention on Rachel.
I even climbed up into a hole with her on my back. We had this plan that I was going to sit in the higher hole and Rachel was going to sit in the lower hole and then we'd take a picture. But Rachel got sick of sitting in her hole while I was climbing into my hole so she climbed down.
Andrew wanted me to be sure to mention that there are no pictures of me climbing down because I had to have him come and spot me. I was too afraid of falling over backwards and squishing our child to do it by myself. Why is it that going up is so much easier than coming down? Unfortunately what goes up must, some way or another, come down, and I'd much rather that way be gentle.
In no time at all (or like about an hour) we made it to the Pioneer Registry. I suppose people passing through the highway simply stopped and carved their name into the wall of the canyon...just because. I don't know why they did it but a lot of people did. Some did it with letters a foot tall, some names appear to have been shot into the wall with a gun, some names are up so high that they had to have stood on top of a covered wagon to reach that high. Whatever the reason, there are dozens of names etched into this wall from the late 1800s into the early 1900s. It's now illegal (with a $200 fine) to carve your name into the wall, or any bit of the canyon at all.
This was a very hard rule for Rachel to follow. "But THEY did it!" she complained when I told her that she could not carve her name into the wall. I let her write her name, in the sand on the ground, with her finger. She got as far as "R" before she got bored with that idea so it's a good idea we didn't commit to carving her name into stone. I can only imagine how long that would have taken.
I must say that I feel bad for a certain man named James Cook, who it seems passed through the canyon on July 14, 1914. He wrote his name, about eye-level, as JAMS COOK (July 14, 1914) and then several feet above that apparently re-scrawled JAMES COOK, with the same date.
I laughed about that so hard.
Once upon a time when Andrew was in grade 8 he took a woods class. In that class he made a sandpaper block and on the back of that sandpaper block he proudly burned his name into the wood: ANREW.
His teacher said, "This is great, but I thought your name was Andrew."
"It is," said Andrew.
Then he came home and showed his mom his glorious masterpiece.
He's been teased about being Anrew ever since. ANREW has made it onto birthday cakes, birthday cards, and welcome home signs.
Fortunately for Andrew he only spelled his name wrong on a junior high school project. Poor James Cook inscribed his name incorrectly on a canyon wall, for all the world to see.
All day I thought that James Cook was some poor teenager, showing off to his friends, or something, but then we went to the Ripple Rock Nature Center and I flipped through a book and found a picture of James Cook's family from the early 1900s. He had a wife and two young children. When he wrote his name on the wall he was most likely in his twenties—all grown up with a family of his own!
That made it that much funnier.
Poor James Cook.
We didn't know how much further it was from the Pioneer Registry to the Tanks so we took a little rest in the shade. Miriam had been wanting to climb into a little hole (I know this because she had been chanting "Little hole, little hole, little hole!" for quite some time now) so we decided to let her out of the backpack so that she could climb into a little hole.
She was so happy to be up there that it took quite some time to coax her down again (and even then it was more dragging-her-out-kicking-and-screaming than it was coaxing). Andrew had pointed out the smaller holes in the back and said it looked like a kitchen with shelves and everything, so the girls set about preparing a meal of sand (which Miriam sampled liberally and literally, of course—that child and her dirt-eating habit!).
As it turns out, the trail to the Tanks was just around the river bend from where we rested. The sign said it was a 0.2 mile hike with a change in elevation of 80 feet. It should have been a relatively easy hike but, I'm not going to lie, it took us forever. Rachel hiked the whole way up by herself, so that slowed us down, and I was carrying Miriam so that slowed me down. I was sure the signs were wrong—maybe they meant it was 2.0 miles instead of 0.2 miles!
I turned around once to check on Andrew and Rachel, who were dawdling along behind me, only to see Andrew leading Rachel right to the edge of a cliff.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" I yelled, "GET AWAY FROM THERE!"
"What are you talking about?" he asked.
"You're standing on the edge of a cliff with our daughter!" I shot back.
"This is not a cliff," Andrew said, "Come and see for yourself."
I did. And it wasn't a cliff. But look at the picture. From where I was standing it looks like they were about to step off a cliff and fall to their deaths! I about had a heart attack.
In reality it drops off about a foot onto another ledge that's probably 30 feet wide, which in turned dropped onto another ledge about the same length, so even if they did fall...and roll 30 feet and fall again they'd still have to roll another 30 feet before they would then fall to their doom. This made everything seem a whole lot safer.
I swear I'm not a control freak all the time.
But when I think my baby's going to step off a 50 foot cliff I start to act a little bossy.
No one fell off any cliffs though, so everything's okay. We made it to the tanks, though we only hung around the two most obvious ones. The other ones require a bit of maneuvering to get to and I'm slightly less agile while carrying a baby on my back (three cheers for Sacagawea).
I'm not sure how the tanks got their name but they were rather...putrid...and reminded us a bit of septic tanks. They were full of bugs and tadpoles. Rachel adored the tadpoles, as did Miriam (who called them "baby soggies.") and we spent a long time gazing into the pool, watching those little guys swim around.
One even climbed out of the water to visit us for a while.
Rachel was heartbroken when we told her it was time to leave. She felt duty-bound to stay and tend to the needs of those poor, motherless tadpoles.
"But where is their mommy?" she wailed. "There is no one to look after them!"
"Most frogs don't take care of their babies," I told Rachel. "They lay a bunch of eggs and then they leave and hope the eggs grow up to be frogs."
"But what if they die?" she sniffed.
"A lot of them have. We only saw a handful of tadpoles but there were probably dozens to begin with."
"They neeeeed meeeee!" she cried.
"They don't need you, sweetie. They need water and bugs and air."
"Hold meeeeee, Mommyyyyyyyyy"
Some creatures need their mommy more than others. Humans are among the more needy of creatures, I believe.
The hike back down was a bit more stressful than the hike up. Rachel was tired (and emotionally compromised on account of being torn so ruthlessly from her darling polliwogs), it was much later than we had planned for it to be (as in it was past lunchtime and all we had packed were snacks), and we still had at least 1.25 miles to go.
I slipped on the way down and slid for a while on my backside. Soon after I regained my balance I passed a family that was hiking up to the tanks. The man asked his wife to move to the side because I had a baby. It was only after I walked past them that I realized they had been speaking in Arabic and not English.
"...andaha tifla," the man had said. She has a baby.
I found myself wishing that I had thought to chat them up a bit but I wasn't thinking about that at all while I passed them. I was thinking only about not falling down a mountainside with my baby strapped to my back. Going down is hard.
As tired as Rachel was, Miriam was apparently more tired. I didn't notice how tired she was until she went completely limp and all her weight slid to one side of the backpack. I had to quickly regain my balance because she'd shifted my center of gravity...or something. At any rate I nearly fell over. She was completely zonked out.
AND the kids were so tired that when we put them to bed in the evening they both fell asleep within ten minutes!
We finally figured out how to wear our kids out well enough that they are tired by bedtime!
Unfortunately, we also wore ourselves out in the process...