Can you imagine yourself hiking up a steep hill, reaching the top of a waterfall, then repelling down the face of a cliff and through the waterfall? Then you should go on a canyoneering trip.
Canyoneering (Canyoning) is a sport in which you explore canyons by hiking, scrambling, repelling, rafting, swimming, and waterfall jumping. See Wikipedia for more.
To accomplish the repelling part, you need to 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.
I recently went with SoCal Adventure Company to San Antonio Falls for an amazing Canyoneering trip.
The San Antonio Falls are a good 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 on exploring all 4 sections of the falls.
Our guides Ian and Kyle started the trip by giving us detailed safety instructions and explained the equipment we will be using. Most notable safety tips: Bring lots of water, wear sunscreen, pay attention to guide instructions, watch out for rattlesnakes, wear clothes and shoes that can get wet.
We then started hiking up a paved road to a popular overlook where most people stop to admire the waterfall. From this spot, they can only see the lower section on this fall.
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 lots of trees for a will-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.
While we were taking in the view, our guides started setting up the ropes for the climb down. They gave us detailed instructions on how to wear the harness, attach the hardware, and how to repel down.
They also explained how the ropes, hooks, ASAPs can hold thousands of pounds of weight. 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 down the cliff because I did not want to lose my nerves while watching others descend.
Oh wow, what a thrill! Hanging from the rope, holding myself slanted on my feet and with my right hand letting a few inches of rope at a time – then jumping down to the next step.
The best part is passing through the waterfall and getting wet. The weather was very warm on that day, so getting wet was refreshing.
During the first repel I just got a little wet, but on the second leg of this fall, I had to stay in the waterfall for a long time while repelling. It was very cold and I got drenched – and I loved it.
After every repel we had time to rest and eat snacks or lunch while the guides set up the next repel. We repeated this process 4 times until we made it to the canyon floor.
I really enjoyed my canyoneering experience with the SoCal Adventure company. The guides Ian and Kyle were experienced and they really enjoy what they do. They made canyoneering look easy. I definitely want to 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.