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  • Writer's pictureKristen Hepner

A Memoir

My oldest daughter, Abby wrote this for school and I thought it was too great not to share.

How to Spend More Money on a Car than a Slot Canyon

In June of 2018 my family went on a road-trip throughout America. My mother was between 34-38 weeks pregnant at the time and we were tent camping for a lot of the trip, so she was defiantly the real MVP. Anyways, we traveled from South Carolina and drove all the way to Yellowstone before returning home. While in Arizona it was my father’s dream to see a slot canyon. So, he researched for the nearby slot canyons and found Antelope Canyon. This is probably the most famous slot canyon in the world, so, needless to say, my father was ecstatic. However upon seeing that tickets cost around $80 for adults and $60 for kids, he nearly had a heart attack. My father is the type of person who only shops at Goodwill for clothes, so paying around $560 to go see some cool rocks was out of the question. But, he was persistent and found a place in Utah with two slot canyons called Peek-a-boo Canyon and Spooky Gulch. Both of which can be walked in the same hike. The best part was that they were absolutely free.

We began our day driving through Utah to reach the “free” experience. The first half of the drive went smoothly, however, these slot canyons were located in the middle of a desert, so the only way to get to them was this bumpy road. When I say bumpy, I mean there were literally ridges formed by the wind. They looked like sand after its washed away and leaves small crests. Except it was hard, and kept going for forty minutes straight. Needless to say, to repair the four shocks that were completely blown took over $800. Finally we got to the middle of nowhere and stumbled out, feeling shaky and disoriented. Like how you feel after you have jumped on a trampoline for too long. As I looked around, every direction was just more dessert. I could not see any towns or cars or roads. Just wilderness. It was a little scary, but also made me feel like I had time-traveled back to pre-historic times.

My caring mother was a wreak because it turned out that two girls and their dad had gotten lost here a month before and had died. Still, she took my smallest sibling and bid us safe travels, with a few warnings to Dad on what was going to happen if we did not come back. And so, my father and I with four other siblings began our hike.

The first obstacle was actually getting to the canyons. This meant walking down a large stone hill, following a dried-up riverbed, and finally making it to the opening which required each of us to climb up. Even now, roughly three years later, I remember how amazing it was. The walls twisted and curved, creating impossible hallways smoothed by winds over thousands of years. The streaks in the wall where colored shades of red, brown, and orange, with light beams streaking in specks through the top, creating the effect of star-light peeking through trees on a dark night. Each area presented a new design, like a never-ending art piece that kept changing. It made me feel like Indiana Jones as I navigated the tight spaces and climbed over rocks, or an astronaut exploring an unknown alien world. Time lost meaning as we lumbered along, gawking at each new turn as a child would at a toyshop.

Eventually we reached a place with a 20-foot drop. We debated what to do when my Dad suggested lowering one of us down to help with the smaller children. He looked at me. Apparently, my older brother was just “too heavy” and I was the only one who could do it. So there I was, swinging as my dad gripped my hands and slowly lowered me into the dark hole. I couldn’t help my imagination as impossible images flashed through my mind. Snakes. Spiders! Clowns! “I’m going to drop you now.”

“What?!” I screeched just as my dad me let go. I fell to the ground and breathed a deep breath. My dad repeated the process with each of my siblings as I caught them at the bottom and helped get them to the ground. Eventually our adventure in Peek-a-Boo concluded and we reached the end. Now it was time to use piles of stones, called cairns, to navigate our way through the dessert to the entrance of Spooky Gulch. This was where people died because they got lost on the way, and I could understand why. The sun was beating down on us as we tromped along. If I hadn’t been so hot and thirsty I might have noticed the worry lines on my father’s face. Finally we came to a small tree/bush and my dad set us down and told us not to move. This is when I got worried and started praying to God for guidance. After five minutes my Dad came back with a satisfied smile on his face saying he found the canyon.

We finally made it to Spooky Gulch, which was even tighter and smaller than Peek-a-Boo. In some places my Dad had to suck in his stomach and squeeze through. There was even one place my Dad thought he was stuck, and we all had cheer him on as he wiggled and pushed his way through an impossibly small area. It was just as magical and adventurous as the other canyon had been. When we finally made our way out of the canyon, we were all miserably hot, tired, and thirsty. I literally crawled up the rock hill on my hands and knees because I was so exhausted. As we got back to the car we chugged water bottles and shared our adventure with our mother. That is when I realized that people who went to Antelope were not paying to see a beautiful slot canyon, but they were paying for the convenience. Both canyons were just as beautiful as Antelope but much harder to reach. And the experience was half of the adventure. They paid for a trained tour guide to show them rocks, while we used the rocks as the tour guide. I think I definatly prefer the second option.

By: Abigail Hepner


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