I discovered 3 things:
1. The way to the falls is relatively flat with slight rolling hills. However, it is definitely more uphill than down. Halfway through, Kid 4 tried to convince me that we should ride to the falls and then walk back downhill to the trailer. I told him we needed to get in shape for climbing so that we could hike Table Rock without the horses in September (you can ride the horses up to Table Rock, but you can't safely take them to the top of Table Rock). He wasn't impressed.
2. You have a much better view of the canyon, the river and the rapids from on top of a horse than you do hiking the same path on your own two feet.
3. Kid 4 knows a lot about caterpillars, caterpillar colonies, and metamorphosis. There were a lot of cocoons along the trail. That jump started Kid 4's brain and he jabbered non-stop for more than half of our hike.
I snapped a few photos when we arrived at the falls. Immediately after, the storm front that had been threatening arrived. The wind was enough to about knock you off your feet! I quickly whipped out rain gear for Kid 4 but opted to wait on mine.
Piper is a horse that needs a lot of wet saddle blankets to stay calm. She hasn't had them lately and was using the wind as an excuse to be reactive. She's had a lot of exposure to tarps and rain gear, and is normally fine with them, but she started acting up when Kid 4's poncho started getting blown up in the air after the buttons came undone on one side. Since the rain was holding off and I wanted to return to the trail head as quickly as possible, I decided to post-pone the poncho retraining for another time.
It actually worked out well. By the time we got back to the trailer, Piper was back to her usual unflappable self with regard to Kid 4's poncho flying around. I have to take a moment to say how pleased I was with Valentine. There were a few times the poncho blew straight up in the air like a wall. It didn't faze her a bit. She just kept walking along. So grateful to have a horse that is safe for my kids to ride!
The rain started just as the horses stepped into the parking lot. It was perfect timing.