When the Beta Is All Wrong

This past weekend, I took a little jaunt down to southern Utah to hike and rappel a slot canyon… ok, first, here’s a warning–this is super long… but you like to read, so, hey! Match made in heaven. 😉

So, I thought this would take 3-5 hours, because that’s what the beta said! Ha. Ha ha ha. 

By the way, I should mention that reading this might take you 3-5 hours. 

From 10am-6pm, we descended into this really gorgeous slot canyon. Incredible. Stunning. An absolute work of art—reminded me of a Henry Moore sculpture, but better, because Nature did it, and she’s a woman, and she’s got fine hands for sculpting. 

The best parts were the final rappels (there were 8). At that point we’d been cold all day. There’s a lot of standing around waiting for your turn and it was between 30-50 degrees F down there. And right at the end, there was this frigid wind flowing through the slot. I don’t mind being cold, but it can wear you down after a while… 

My kids are badasses. I can’t even believe they did this. Their tiny legs just never stopping, especially at the end. 

….the end. We got out of the canyon around 6. Then we had a hike back to our cars. It was fine at first. 

Then night fell around 7:30pm. 

Child rappelling in a slot canyon

And there was no trail to get out of the canyon.

NO TRAIL. To explain, there were three exit options. One involved shuttling a car through rough road to a pick up place (which we didn’t do). The other was the long hike out—which would take 4-5 hours (and based on my experience now, these helpful fools writing the beta can’t be trusted, and so that was probably more of a 6-7 hour hike). 

The last exit route was trailblazing through a wash (a WASH… you know, washes aren’t trails… they get washed away every time it rains. And it had rained/snowed recently) to a ridge, and then just eyeballing it from there. 

Eyeballing it is no problem, in daylight. 

But after an hour of hiking, I mean… I felt like we’d landed in a bad episode of Gilligan’s Island. What was suppose to be a 3 hour tour ended up A LIFETIME. 

For real. If you recall, the beta on the slot canyon said 3-5 hours. haha. We were on this 3 hour tour from 10am to 9:45 pm. 

I’d made reservations at this super cool restaurant with great beer back in Kanab for 5pm (because everyone was in Kanab over the weekend, following me… I can’t escape the crowds!). So, we breezed right through that… I’d been so hopeful and trusting in the beta lies that I made a reservation just like a hopeful fool does. So adorable of me… ha ha.

Woman at the top of a slot canyon rappell

So anyway… 

The real issue is one I can control. And that is… good lord, when will I learn to do my own damn research before an adventure? It’s the problem of dividing and conquering. When you’re single, you just do all your shit for yourself. You don’t just blindly trust a partner to figure stuff out for you. 

When you’re with someone, you think, “They got this. This is their sphere. I have to bake some pot brownies right now. So I’ll do that, while they plan this awesome backpacking trip through Mexico.” 

I don’t bake pot brownies, but I wanted that imaginary scenario to be cooler than baking cookies for my kids, which I do and then eat them all. So anyway, I said pot brownies, but I wouldn’t ruin a good brownie with pot. I’d just keep them separate, like you should. 

Anyway, yeah, so after all this time in, like I don’t know, 15 or 16 years, I think I may have finally learned that I need to know the risks going into adventures. My adventure planner and my brother-in-law, the other adventure planner, both have tendencies to gloss over the brutal details that may end up killing us. 

If we’d had to stay all night out there in the elements on an exposed butte in the middle of the desert, we would have been fine. But that was THIS time. 

Who knows what details might kill me next time? Will my adventure planner accidentally just forget to mention the recent shark sightings on this gorgeous stretch of beach that no one ever goes to, but we can have it all to ourselves? Will he skip the poisonous snakes and behemoth anaconda details because the monkeys and tropical birds are worth it? 

These are things I should know. 

People relax in a slot canyon
The author communes with the wind...

This is what I can control, you know. When I haven’t, and I’ve found myself in a pickle (haha), it’s my fault. 

Not that there’s really FAULT here. Because the night hike was flipping stunning. The half moon was brilliant and gave us so much light we hardly needed anything else (except in the thickets, of which there were billions). 

There were wildly bright planets chasing each other through the sky and even despite the moon’s glow, I got to see my first view of the Pleiades for the season. Orion’s not far behind when I see the Seven Sisters popping above the horizon like that. That sets my soul on fire. 

I just mean… I need to remember to find out for myself, instead of trusting others to know what I should know. 

Because what happens is that I feel a bit idiotic as the cold truth settles in and I realize things like, “Oh wow, what the hell have I gotten myself into? There’s no way out of this except to endure the hike…” 

That’s fine when it’s only a two hour commitment. But on that final rappel, freezing and aching everywhere, I remember thinking, “Oh shit. I still have a damn hike UP HILL THE WHOLE WAY to get back to my hotel room. And it’s almost dark.” 

I wouldn’t do it again in quite that way, knowing what I know now. 

But we made it. And so that’s freaking amazing and it’s settling in and I like the way it shaped me. And I think it shaped my kids in a way that will help them become even better than I could have imagined. 

So, all in all. Pretty freaking awesome. 

If you read this entire thing, wow. Thank you! You’re a damn trooper. Probably would have slayed it on this grueling journey with me. Next time, you’re invited!

Man with rope standing at bottom of slope

2 thoughts on “When the Beta Is All Wrong”

  1. Appreciate the invitation. Sadly my knees are no longer authorized to do such things.

    (NOT a commercial)

    If this sounds like a commercial below, it wasn’t meant to be one. I have friends who do the sort of things you do – a hiker/mountain biker in Colorado and another who just loves to travel and without any training already takes great pics. I sent the same sort of recommendation to them. Other than an attendee to online MCs of Tim’s I’m in no way connected to him or his classes.

    I know seeing it all in person was magnificent, and you have your memories but I hope you have some great pics of the sites you saw in addition to the ones you shared. Further, if you take pics a lot doing your outings, you might want to look up Tim Shields online and YouTube. Award winning landscape photographer. Author, lecturer, teacher. He frequently has free masterclasses that are informative an are essentially commercials for further learning, There is almost invariably a free e-book just for attending. I’ve learned a lot doing this without purchasing a course and have received some good reference books in the mean time. When I retire again, or in my preparation to, I will take one of the courses he offers. I’ve been to the MCs of several pro photogs on-line but Tim speaks on everything in a manner that anyone can understand.

    We now return to general discussions.

    Being an author it seems like there are nuggets from that latest adventure that could either be used as information for a story line in other books or the basis for a story itself. Things like not having planned, reliance on slackers, “eventing” with your kids, getting in over your head in a nature situation even if you had planned well, the many and various things that could have completely changed the trajectory of the story. Things like going down what your planner THOUGHT was the right departure point but wasn’t, and as such you are descending into trouble. Equipment failure. Getting lost in the cut. Personal injury…even things more simple than your broken (arm, leg, ribs, foot, hand) things like eye injury so although not blinded the effect is impactful. Or a member who falls, hits their head and now has constant vertigo? Interactions with venomous snakes, animals, and such. Having a new member of the group – friend of a friend of a friend of the slacker who planned it all and there’s something just a little bit off. That could go in any number of directions from a disagreement over how to proceed to a major clash with one of the others, to something much more sinister. Weather – including cold like you had but even more unseasonably cold. Or too hot. Or precipitation. Or something from area folklore.
    Just sayin’

    Please continue to share, your pics included. I know I will enjoy them.

    Now, two different “semi-commercials” that are very different. Lesser one first. I ARC read for several and Beta read for a small handful. Happy to do either. I think I contribute more to you as a Beta reader, but obviously your call. Now, the much more important one.

    The thought was triggered by your mention of the insignificant pennies you get from Amazon at times. I have a favor to ask – don’t need to tell me if you do it personally – though I’ll see if if you do the link with your books. Don’t know if you were aware of smile.amazon.com.
    explains it all.

    You can only designate one charity to support, which you can also change at any time. I figured that the “usual suspects” probably get their fair share just from name recognition so I went with a (much) smaller one.


    With every purchase, amazon donates (a really, really small) portion of the purchase price to your designated charity. My thoughts were that even if small, it is more than nothing, every little bit helps, and it is going to a cause special to me.

    I’m hoping you’ll take the time to see if it is of interest to you for your Amazon purchases. If it is would you consider a smile.amazon.com instead of an Amazon.com link for the books you sell? Or featuring it in your newsletter? Thank you.

    Tangentially related, I think I’m part cat, though I like dogs as well. Cats and dogs have always taken to me from first meeting and apparently I give excellent skritches. But me as part cat? I’ve used up a number of my nine cat lives and perhaps some additional ones of which I’m not aware. Thus far, I know of a near electrocution when I was two, a near drowning on my fifth birthday, rolling a car on an Interstate at eighty miles an hour when I had a blowout of the right front tire and immediately thereafter was on black ice, a diving mishap in the tropical waters off Guam. Several other bad incidents but not that rise to the level of costing a life. So, for me this charity was perfect. =^..^=

    My being part cat (and other weirdness) runs to some extent to all four of us kids. Probably got it from Mom who I think would have been considered to be a hedge witch back in the day. I swear she could have stuck a twig of any sort into the ground and it would grow into a healthy plant. She had a way with animals like I do with cats and dogs. My kid brother is known back home as “the cat whisperer” and has rescued many a number of cats and kittens, including feral cats. He’s been able to get to ones that don’t want to be found and over the course of a few visits have them coming up to him and eating right by him. He’s not a member of any of the various rescue organizations, but in Rochester NY area, he’s well know by and has assisted many if not all of them. My two sisters, one older and one younger? The less said the better, but if I do explain them, it will be at a later time.

    Take care, stay safe, and enjoy every sandwich.

    1. Hi John! I didn’t know about Amazon smile. Thanks for the link and I’ll look into it a bit more. Your explanation about your mom sounds great–I love the idea of her being a hedge witch. I’ve been world-building another story and was going in that nature magic direction, so it comes at a good time for my research.

      If you’d like to ARC or beta for me, you can definitely apply for it. If you’re not currently member of my Facebook reader group, you could join that and then you’ll see the announcements when I’m about to put out a new book.

      Thanks for reading my post and for various insights! Your comment was fun to read. I look forward to seeing you in my reader group! Would love fo you to beta!


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