This 11 mile hike was the greatest family adventure we have ever had, and I would struggle to think of something else that even compares. Hiking, rappelling, stemming, and swimming were all part of this epic trek. 

We left the hotel at 8:00 am along Highway 9 to the North Fork turnoff. After about 30 minutes of driving we came to the Orderville Trailhead turnoff. The last two miles of the road are pretty treacherous and certainly require 4-wheel drive. Not that you have to have 4-wheel drive to do the hike, but it would add an additional 2 miles of walking (from 11-13 miles).
As you walk down the dry wash the canyon walls get taller and more enclosed. We found ourselves standing on a pretty steep cliff about 300 feet in height. It took us a moment, but we identifies a trail off to the left that led us down to the bottom. It is work noting that there was an obvious gigantic landslide in this area that makes the trail somewhat ambiguous. 

After 3 hours of hiking, we stopped for lunch. The hike was beautiful, but to this point did not feature anything remarkable. We had great conversations to pass the time and invented a great story about the banche of Orderville cCanyon. This character roamed the canyon moaning in search of hikers wearing denim jeans (do a quick search on the history of Orderville to understand). About 45 minutes after lunch things got a lot more exciting. The canyon walls got tighter and we hit the first rappel. This short 20-footer was perfect for the kids. Exciting, but not so intimidating that it strikes the fear of death in your heart. Needless to say, the kids loved it. By now the canyon walls were “glorious” (the preferred adjective used by Norah). We started to notice a little trickle of water on the canyon floor from a natural spring. Soon it grew into a pretty decent flow with pools appearing frequently.   

The second rappel ended in a waste-deep pool of water. However, the descent was along a concave crack that made it a little tricky towards the bottom. Hannah went first and she was a pro. Admittedly, I brought a 8.0 mm rope which was not the safest decision, especially for the kids. I should have brought a thicker rope or sent each kid down with a prussic auto brake. As a result, Truman briefly lost control during his descent. It wasn’t a big deal and he would have fallen into a fool of water from 8 feet, but it was enough to teach me to be safer. Once we had finished the rappel, I was hoping to capture a sweet family photo. I set up the tripod and took a couple practice shots of the crew. These would prove to be the last photos I ever took with that camera. As I walked back to join the family photo, Melissa yelled that the camera had fallen over! I quickly grabbed it out of the water, but it was too late! Nooooooo! I was upset that I lost the camera, but I was even more disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to take photos the rest of the way down the canyon, and the best photos were yet to come.

From that point on, everyone put on their wetsuits (except me, I just never got cold enough. As Maxwell so thoughtfully pointed out, it was because I had enough whale blubber to keep me warm). I don’t think I fully grasped how much water was in this canyon. We did a lot of swimming, descending down water falls, and trudging through waste to chest high water. It was cold! The wetsuits and socks were critical, especially for the kids. It was an absolute adventure problem solving each obstacle as a family. The kids had so much fun. By the time Orderville joined the Virgin River Narrows, we were pretty tired. The Narrows were still majestic, but with all the people and our fatigue, we were ready to be done. In fact, we didn’t see a single person the whole day until we hit the last waterfall right before the confluence.  

Last photo before camera tipped over in the above water
The last few miles through The Narrows were a slug. Truman had to take a leak really badly. We told him to just let it go in his wetsuit, but he refused. After another 30 minutes he looked at me with a worried face—the face of pee urgency. I told him he was just going to have to let it go. As we crossed the river he stopped for a moment and let it go. He said, “Wow! It’s actually really warm!” It was a classic moment. 
By the time we got to the Zion Park shuttles we were hammered. We were also freezing and starving. We hopped in the Jeep and headed back to the hotel. We all showered and then headed back to the Golden Hills Cafe. We devoured our meals, but not before we had a family toast celebrating our successful day. Truly, as I reflect on the day, I am so proud of our kids. They were champs. A six year old hiked Orderville! Norah was chipper almost the entire day. Maxwell and Hannha were such great helpers and had fun talking and playing along the trail. It was one of those days I never want to forget.
After dinner, Melissa and I still had to go get our car from the trailhead. It was late and we were tired, but we had to do it. On the way back, the Jeep started to overheat right as we were pulling into the hotel parking lot. The next morning, we had to return the Jeep to Kanab. Just after we crested the summitt, it stopped working and smoke started pouring out from under the hood. We left it on the side of the road and called the rental company to report the problem.
On our way back home, we stopped in Beaver at the Crazy Cow Cafe for breakfast. The food was okay, but it was a fun time with the family.
Overall, it was a classic Spring Break. It would have been awesome to have the cousins with us, but we were able to make the most of it.