We debated for a bit, and then our better judgment told us to go put on our hiking boots at least. With our proper footwear, we made the best of it, and climbed to the top again, nice and slow. It took us maybe 15-20 minutes to get to the top this time (in my first trip, I did some overly stupid things that I wasnâ€™t willing to risk again). As we proceeded further, we realized that to get down the other side the way we came up, it would take a 5.7 down-climb of a vertical 15-20 foot wall, as well as various sections of gnarly slippery slopes that drop off into 50 foot canyons of doom (NOT an exaggeration). Actual DOOM. Working in tandem, we went ahead and did it, figuring that it wasnâ€™t the right way, but we had come this far, and at least when we got there, the people there could tell us the easy way back. It was an slow descent, and not without a few moments of HOLY S*&#, but we did it.
Finally, we reached the pools!
Now, you would think it was time for celebration and rejoicing, but something was â€¦ odd. Everyone thereâ€¦lookedâ€¦ the same? And, they had â€¦ ropes? It was at this very moment that Alicia and I found out what we would come to regret heavily later. The group of 40 individuals who served to bait us up there with the promise of an easy return was not in fact 40 separate individuals who had all made separate decisions to come, but one single family of 40 Vietnamese folk, who had made one decision to come. They had brought a safety rope and had worked as a team to arrive where we were. And indeed, we had come the way they had come. No easy returnâ€¦ AND, the pools where we were standing were pretty small, and to get to the really nice ones, you REALY needed a rope. To add insult to injury, they were in the process of packing up to leave, and taking their rope with them. We could have turned back then. Left with them and used their help to get down, but weâ€™re stubborn and wanted our swim, even in these shallow wading pools.
We spent the next few hours sun bathing and swimming and enjoying the view.
It was very serene, but the dark cloud of the return journey hung over us the entire time. We finally mustered the courage to tackle the trip. I donâ€™t know if you know this, but fear in your heart makes anything and everything more difficult. For example, that 15-20 foot down-climb of 5.7 that we were so ready to do when we thought we wouldnâ€™t have to do it again, was now a 15-20 foot solo of dejection.
I started feeling EXTREMELY guilty for dragging Alicia into this. I mean, Iâ€™m a climber, I do this sort of thing, and it was I who went on ahead in the first place and said everything was fine. I was getting freaked, so I couldnâ€™t imagine she was having the time of her life. My hiking boots are NOT climbing shoes (point of fact).