Cliff Dives (July 5, 2005)

Tuesday I took some of the day off and went with the Family(except Aunt Jane, who stayed at home), the guests (except , and James (the cook) to the Cliff Dives. I forget where they are exactly, but I think they are on the southern border of the ranch, down in a canyon. At any rate, we drove for I don’t remember how long. We took several containers of water and our lunches. We tried to pack lightly, but we needed all the water we could carry.

I don’t remember what time we started (or even if it was morning or afternoon). I’m tempted to say we started in the morning, but my journal suggests I worked part of the day. At any rate, it took us a couple of hours to get to the bottom of the canyon. At the rim and for most of the way down, we scrambled over huge rocks. At the bottom, we met with a challenge larger than we were expecting: brush. Sure, it sounds like nothing, right? It was so thick and stiff, we couldn’t force our bodies through it, but had to hack our way through with knives.

At the bottom there was a good-sized pool of very chilly water. Not something you’d expect in the middle of a state most people associate with the desert. Anyway, most people were eager to get in the water, and they did. Jack, Daniel, and Tom McDonough went up and jumped off the two smaller of the three cliffs that fell into the water, while Katherine and Sarah stuck mostly to the rope swing. James and Uncle Larry meandered in, while I stayed on the edge. We had our lunch, then the three boys took Sarah and James to the top of the highest cliff where they all took turns jumping off. Before we left, I had to at least get in, just to say I had. I jumped off a log that was laying on the edge and gasped when my body hit. It was cold. I quickly swam back to the edge and climbed out.

The pooled water seemed to seep through the ground and find it’s way out a little farther on as a trickle coming out of the rocks. We had to climb down a shelf of rock before we could reach that water. James and Uncle Larry declared that water clean enough for us all to refill our water bottles (which were nearly empty) and re-hydrate ourselves before climbing out of the canyon. The water wasn’t ice cold, nor was it perfectly clear, but I’m sure it kept us alive as we made our way to the top.

It was late in the afternoon that we left the Cliff Dives to begin the trek out. Uncle Larry had to stop pretty often as we were trying to save water. Near the top, we ran into a rattlesnake. Well, it wasn’t in the way. It was kind of on the side of the path that we were following. We voted to leave it alone and moved on. By the time we got to the car, we were grateful that we’d left some full water bottles at the car we’d driven in. We all made it back to the house safe and sound, with another story to tell.

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