Bonita Falls/Lytle Creek Canyoneering

Bonita Falls/Lytle Creek Canyoneering

Oh, Canyoneering, How We Love Thee**

When we’re not paragliding or rock climbing, you can find us canyoneering. Broadly speaking, canyoneering combines hiking with swimming, high jumps, scrambling, stemming, and technical rope skills such as rappelling (abseiling). Of course, it is possible to descend certain walkable canyons without doing any of these. But those are not the sort of canyons we Fools prefer.

Stumbling To The Start

The weather was a brutal 100 degrees.  Really, we should not have attempted the canyon during the dog days of summer – talk about a foolish decision (pause for groans). But this canyon had been on our list for a while. So when we found ourselves with a free day, we decided to go for it.

After hiking along a stone-filled riverbed, we headed up a ridge under direct sun. That was the most taxing part of the day. We may have stopped a few times (okay, like, 6) to wipe ourselves down and gulp in water. By the time we reached the first rappel, located in a nice, shaded clearing, we were happy to relax for a bit while taking in the view.

Hiking up the ridge under direct sun was brutal.

Rappelling Down Waterfalls

The descent is a series of four rappels ranging from 30 to 160 feet. It’s a straightforward route – no way finding between them. Three of the rappels are directly along waterfalls. As it’s been a wet year in California, two of the falls ended in near waist-deep pools – extremely refreshing on that hot, hot day. In previous years, owing to the drought, many local waterfalls had slowed to a trickle.

Relaxing for a bit while taking in the view from the drop in point.

As a team of two, we work our way through canyons relatively quickly. A short 3.5 hours after we started the hike, we were back at our car.

Even though the hike up was brutal, we got some pretty pictures along the way.
View of the hike in from above.
**Disclaimer: Canyoneering comes with serious risks and should only be done if you have proper training or an experienced leader. The information above is not to be used to attempt the canyon and is purposely vague. For proper guidance, check with your local canyoneering experts.
12 Hours in Zürich, Switzerland

12 Hours in Zürich, Switzerland

Deciding To Pause In Zürich

While arranging our return flights from Morocco, we noticed we could squeeze in a 12-hour layover in Zürich, Switzerland. It was an attractive opportunity. Not only would we spend time in a beautiful city, but we could avoid having to either race through the airport for a connecting flight (stressful) or sit around for several hours waiting to fly out (boring). 12 hours wasn’t a lot of time. But it was long enough that we could leave the airport and get the teeniest of tastes of the city, which Mr. Fool hadn’t visited in over a decade and Mrs. Fool had never set foot in.

View of mountains flying into Zürich, Switzerland
Flying into Zürich as the sun sets

The Fools And Their Money Are Soon Parted

Zürich is much more expensive than Morocco. (At the time of this post, the exchange rate was roughly 1:1 USD.) Even though we knew that would be the case, we still experienced some sticker shock. Our room at the City Backpacker Biber Hostel, for example, which contained two single beds, a sink, and a small wardrobe, with a shared bathroom down the hall, cost around CHF $125. Dinner that first night, eaten shortly after our 11 PM check-in, was slices of pizza that cost enough for us to pause before ordering a second slice each. (We did, but only because we were hungry, and convenience stores weren’t open.)

A Whirlwind (Partial) Tour Of Zürich

Before bed, we walked along the Limmat river and enjoyed the cool night air – quite a contrast from the hot, humid temperatures we had just left behind in Marrakech.

Limmat river from the Lindenhof overlook in Zürich, Switzerland
View across the Limmat river from the Lindenhof overlook.

The next morning began at 6 AM. We walked to Platzspitz park to play a game of chess on an oversize chessboard. From there, we meandered though the city and admired the architecture. Zürich contains a beautiful mix of Baroque and Neo-Classical influences. After pausing at the Stadthausanlage square farmers market, we finished our all-too-brief day at Lake Zürich. From there, it was back to the airport.

Oversize Chess Board in Platzspitz park - Zürich, Switzerland
Playing chess in Platzspitz park.
Lake Zürich from Bürkliplatz park in Zürich, Switzerland
View of Lake Zürich from Bürkliplatz pier.
Map of Zürich, Switzerland
Where we walked

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Paragliding: Discovering Flight

Paragliding: Discovering Flight

This story brought to you by Mr. Fool

A Chance Encounter

It all started one summer day in Malibu, CA, circa 2009. While rock climbing with friends, I met a solo climber, Steve, who ended up joining our group for the day. That evening, before we parted ways, our new friend put forth an offer: free tandem paragliding flights as a thank-you for our kindness. At the time, I had zero knowledge of the sport. I didn’t even know what paragliding was. So naturally I said, “Sure! Why not?”**

Love At First Flight

I met up with Steve on a hot September day. We hiked a couple thousand feet up a weed-filled hill and waited for favorable launch conditions. As we waited, Steve explained to me the fundamentals of flight. He pointed out features of the terrain he looked for and the basic physics of how to stay aloft.

When the conditions were judged “right,” Steve spread out a soft nylon wing, hooked us into our own harnesses, and away we went.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of being able to fly. On that day with Steve, it felt like those dreams had come to life. We flew around for roughly an hour, soaring along the hillside, using columns of rising warm air called thermals to circle higher and higher. Even though we were sitting in a fabric chair attached to what was essentially a large kite, completely exposed, the ride felt stable and relaxing. It was also a rush. By the time we landed. I was hooked.

But I wouldn’t fly again for years.

Shortly after that flight, my job changed. I bounced around the United States and among several countries. I thought about that flight often and hoped I could learn to pilot my own wing one day. But I didn’t have the time or the locational stability to keep up any hobbies back then.

Fate Intervenes

By chance, work took me back to California. And once again, while out climbing, I met another paraglider pilot. I didn’t waste any time: I got names of instructors. My first paragliding lesson was shortly thereafter.

Mr. Fool flying in Brazil

Piloting came naturally to me, and I quickly progressed with my instruction. I flew at multiple domestic and international locations and completed courses on advanced maneuvers and cross-country flying techniques.

Taking Friends On Tandem Paragliding Flights:

Mr. Fool taking a friend for a tandem flight in the San Bernardino mountains

 

Last year, I began pursuing my tandem instructor license, which would allow me to do for others what Steve did for me: share the experience of flight.

I have since become a qualified tandem pilot, and now I take my friends flying whenever I have the opportunity, hoping that some will also catch the bug and decide they want to become pilots as well. For me, there is nothing like it. You see the world from a perspective you never knew was there.

Floating around in La Salina, Mexico
**Disclaimer: Paragliding is a dangerous sport that should only be done by qualified individuals with the proper training and licensing. If you happen to be in Southern California and want to take a tandem flight or sign up for paragliding lessons, we recommend you contact Atmosphere Paragliding.