Monthly Archives: October 2016

Elisa Jones rattlesnake arches first arch

Rattlesnake Arches on a Halloween Weekend

On Hallowe’en the thing you must do
Is pretend that nothing can frighten you
And if somethin’ scares you and you want to run
Just let on like it’s Hallowe’en fun.
~Author unknown

What’s scarier than taking your kids on an adventure on which they could easily fall to their death? Not much.

Which is exactly why hiking Rattlesnake Arches on the weekend before Halloween was so perfect!

Depending on the day I might confess to you that I’m afraid of everything….or I’m fearless. [Though, technically, all you have to do is put on a mascot costume and I’ll probably run away and pee my pants].

But put my kids’ lives in danger and I’m terrified. Even Matt standing on the edge of a cliff triggers my fight=or-flight mechanism!

So, of course, with the whole idea of Halloween being fear-induced gaiety, we just had to do it!

I LOVE the route we took this time: down through the first arch, along the bottom until we could see the river, then a steep exposed scramble up up up back to the rim, along the rim, and back to the top.


Here is Trinity, braving the narrow walls of the First Arch.img_7256

Isn’t she wonderful? Yes. Yes she is.



Here is Tim, coaching Connor down through the first arch. It absolutely melts my heart to see Tim play the big-brother. Matt and Trinity were both all the way down, but when Connor started to show stress, it was TIM that ran up to help him. Oh the feels this gives me!!!img_7259

My attempt at an artsy-fartsy tree picture. img_7260

My awesome hiking companions! Trail-blazing Trinity, Tim the fearless, Matt the mentor, and Connor the dragon-tamer. I make sure we stay together. I’m the glue.img_7261

I talked Connor into braving his fear and putting his hand through this hole. He didn’t take much joy in it until it was over. img_7271


We found a little snack spot on the edge of the lower trail, overlooking Rattlesnake Canyon. Matt found his own private perch.img_7273 img_7274 img_7275

Connor and his mama.

I just love this area- it’s so beautiful! And I was so thrilled that they all followed me up this sketchy bi-pass. It ended up saving us 2 miles of hiking and put us through the rigors of elevation gain and exposure, but I think it was worth it. Most of all, I LOVE finding the better, faster way. I think that’s my jam.


Tim was the only one brave enough to join Matt out on this double toilet bowl arch. I love their camaraderie. img_7280

Matt. I love him so much! And thusly, every time he went out on the precipice I had to freak out. He said he was testing his fear of heights. I think he was just testing my visceral fear reaction. Or my incontinence level. img_7285

Tim and Trin scoping out the view! This was an incredible spot to play with echoes. They would go out out out out, then echo over to the left. It was weird and awesome as shit!img_7295

Yup. Love getting shots of my kids mid-air. You can see the lower trail below us.img_7302

Trinity, finding her confidence and her voice. img_7307

Group selfie to conclude our trip! Another successful run around Rattlesnake Arches. LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT!

1st Time Past the 2nd Waterfall

“They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch! I say that’s a good love; one that burns and flies, and you run with it!”
C. JoyBell C.

I have to admit that every day that passes I find myself more and more in love with Matt.

I was sooooo looking forward to today and it did not disappoint.

You see, we spent Saturday morning at the 5k race at the school where I teach. Loved it. Kids were super cute. Lots of friends there. Gorgeous morning. No complaints.

It was just exhausting.

We took a nap in the afternoon to rally, then really got to work. Took all the backdrops and props and light stands and cameras and more props and more stands and tip jar and clipboard to the Mesa Theater and set up to shoot pictures for Zombie Prom.

Then it was a short 5 hours of shooting scary costumes on drunk people while having our ears raped by electronica.

It was just exhausting.

By 2 am we hit the sack. By 10 am we were still there. By 11 we had coffee and by 1 we were on the trail headed up No Thoroughfare Canyon.

The goal of today was two-fold:

1: Spend the entire time in exclusive company with each other, and

2: Find a way up past the 2nd waterfall

I didn’t care if it took us the rest of the day…I knew the route was there, but I had never found it. Today, with my best adventure partner ever, we sought it out.

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I figured if we got to the second waterfall then turned around and looked to our left a lot then we would find it. So that’s what we did.

Of course whilst we were at the very very parched waterfall, I decided to see how far up it I could climb. Matt didn’t say as much, but I know I worried him by climbing so high on a slick surface. I wised up though and came back down, sliding on my butt and accumulating a couple of bruises.

When we finally found the ‘route’, I could hardly believe it. It was an immensely steep gully that takes those who find it nearly straight up the canyon wall, with only fist-sized boulders and occasional ledges that only threaten injury with a miss-placed hand or foot or balance point or word or breath or thought.

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It took us some time….I’m not sure how long exactly….but we ended up making it to the top. A more intense climb I have not had since I rose to the top of Mt. Sneffels in the summer of 2015.

All the while my stalwart companion led the way, pushing himself and dragging me with will alone until we found it.

And when we did, I couldn’t stop giggling.

We had done it! The sandstone cliffs rose above us even as the blackness of the gneiss fell below our feet. It was a gorgeous slab of wilderness. We gazed down 700 feet to the tops of yellowed cottonwood trees below us, and marveled at the perfect symmetry of each hidden alcove as it breached red rock walls to join the canyon proper.

The perspective was breathtaking.


We are now planning to take an over-nighter-or-two with a tent and explore this wilderness more.


On the way down, even as we were discussing how few people actually make this immensely challenging climb, we were met by a man climbing the very gully we were about to descend! Imagine our surprise!

We had a short chat with him, acknowledged the recognition of a kindred spirit, and gave him ample leeway on the descent.

Once we hit the canyon bottom, our feet finding the familiar precambrian formation of the basement rocks, it was a short 3-mile stroll back to the car.

We talked of everything and nothing. At one point I became distracted by a looming, dark, foreboding monolith rising above us…and I put my hand into a cactus. Matt did not hesitate, but stopped and began to pull the spines from my fingers, even as they bled.

Our weary legs did not fail us, and we closed out the night with fried chicken, Moscoto (for me) and Dirty Hippy (for him), as well as a long soak and a deep sleep.

Life. Is. Bliss.

Kelly Ryan mountain biking rustler's trail

Catching Up with a Good Friend

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

It would take me too long to recount how I know Kelly and why I like her.

Let it suffice to say that we have the kind of easy friendship that never goes stale and no matter how long a time passes between meetings we still have an understanding of where we stand.

She came to town to pick up her husband, but came early so we could get a ride in together. I’m afraid she out-listened me as I caught her up on the many doings of my life, but I hope I was a good listening ear for her as well.

We rode Rustler’s, as she had never been to the Kokopelli trails and I ride only a singlespeed on the dirt now.

It was another amazingly beautiful October day and we couldn’t get enough of the sunshine, the yellow cottonwoods lining the Colorado River, and the cliffs reflecting on the water.

I ended up having more time than I expected to cover more trail [or I thought I did…I was still 10 minutes late to my board meeting….probably worth it].

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