Canyoneering (Canyoning) is a sport where you explore canyons by hiking, scrambling, rappelling, rafting, swimming, and waterfall jumping. See Wikipedia for more.
To accomplish the rappelling part, you must know about ropes, carabiners, and ASAPs. But if you are not a rock climber, you can still enjoy a canyoneering adventure by going with an experienced outfitter and letting them do the technical parts.
The San Antonio Falls are an excellent destination by themselves. There is running water year-round cascading down a 400 ft cliff, but most people only see the lower part of this waterfall. We were planning to explore all four sections of the falls.
Our guides, Ian and Kyle, started the trip by giving us detailed safety instructions and explaining the equipment we would be using.
Most notable safety tips: Bring lots of water, wear sunscreen, follow guide instructions, watch out for rattlesnakes, and wear clothes and shoes that can get wet.
After admiring the fall and taking some pictures, our group started on the more difficult portion of this hike. We had to climb up a steep dirt path and scramble over rocks to get to the top of the waterfalls – while carrying our backpacks and climbing equipment.
This part was exhausting, but we found a shaded area with many trees for some much-needed rest.
The view from the top is breathtaking. You can watch the water flowing over the cliff and cascading down to the canyon floor. In the distance, you can see Los Angeles and Orange counties and, on a clear day, all the way to Catalina Island.
They also explained how the ropes, hooks, and ASAPs can hold thousands of pounds. The ASAP is a second line of defense. If you lose control of your rope, it is an automatic brake that will stop you from falling.
I was the first to go down the cliff because I did not want to lose my nerves while watching others descend.
The best part is passing through the waterfall and getting wet. The weather was hot on that day, so getting wet was refreshing.
I just got a little wet during the first rappel, but on the second leg of this fall, I had to stay in the waterfall for a long time while rappelling. It was very cold, and I got drenched and loved it.
After every rappel, we had time to rest and eat snacks or lunch while the guides set up the next rappel. We repeated this process four times until we reached the canyon floor.
I really enjoyed my canyoneering experience with the SoCal Adventure company. The guides, Ian and Kyle, were experienced and really enjoyed what they did. They made canyoneering look easy. I definitely would go with them on another adventure.
This trip was for beginners, but they also have trips for intermediate and advanced climbers. Check out their website for more details.