Thursday, April 7, 2016

Red rock, Blue Mesas, Domes and Pinnacles and Grottos of Endless Stone

Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you -- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

Since the new year began I have had an unquenchable primal thirst for the desert country. A thirst partly fueled by my growing re-interest in biking and exploring slot canyons, yet also flaming a passion that has been there my whole life. Ever since I was a little scout hopping around Goblin Valley I have loved Southern Utah and now the more places I explore the more I want to see and take in. Over and over.

January 15-16: St. George w/ Pete and Denali.
Camped on dirt road near slot
-Yankee Doodle Slot Canyon: Easy approach, one easy rappel, fun wet icy slot. Grab rope upon exit.
-Zen Trail Ride: Awesome scenic loop, dry trails. 8 miles
-Gooseberry Ride Attempt: to much snow, found some dry rock on the practice loop and played “Horse”, Nearly got the 4Runner stuck in the mud getting out there. Officially decided to get a “real” rack for the bikes after the strap on rack jostled off on the dirt roads.

February 12-15: Moab w/ Pete and Family and Denali:
Spent first night in Motel 6 then 2 nights camping at Slick Rock Camping area
-Ran Red Hot 55k (33 mile) Trail Race: I finished in 5:30, hurt lots due to lingering groin pull injury but loved the course. Some snow and mud, but mostly warm sunny red rock and vistas.
-Biked on the Highway paved trail from Arches to Colorado River with Kid carrier after the race
-Post Run Meet and Greet with Ann Trason: real neat to listen to and talk with the legend for an hour or so
-Church in Moab
-Day hiked out west of Highway 313 near Canyonlands: explored the Tombstone Tower area, Dellenbaugh Tunnel with kids, then hiked out to Mesa Arch in Canyon Lands. Chill Sunday hikes
-Evening laps on Slickrock practice loop
-Early morning run through Pool Arch Slot (Rock of Ages) with Pete: sweet 4 class canyon approach to huge arch followed by simple dry slot with 2 raps. Back to the tent before kids were out of the sleeping bag
-Medieval Torture Chamber and Morning Glory Arch: Fun cross country approach to quick short slot that ends in huge rap under monster huge arch, then 3 miles down Negro Bills.  One lap with Pete then did in again with Izzy.  2nd time through I assisted with a “rescue” of a college age gal with her hair stuck in the ATC 70 ft up.
-Klondike Trails: On Bike on the way out of town, so muddy it broke my derailer. Fun once we got up on the dry white rock.

February 19-20:  Water Pocket Fold and Moab Solo with Denali:
Slept in car on dirt road outside of Moab
-Afternoon run up Little Wild Horse down Bells with pup: 8 miles, set the Strava CR wearing pants. I wanna go do it much faster
-Evening run up Ding and down Dang Canyon: Found some dinosaur looking fossils, lots of fun scrambling and neat slots, one fixed line rope hand over hand decent coming down Dang in the dark made for a spicy finish. Full moon exit hike was amazing. Another 8 mils
-Early morning ride on full Slickrock, slow and sore
- Recon/attempt to summit Elephants Butte in Arches NP: complicated route finding and sneak route with a rappel to summit. Failed so broke down and got Moab Canyoneering book on the way outa town. Then back in time for 5 oclock Cub Scout Blue and Gold with the Family

 March 3-5:  Moab and Arches with the Family
Camped on Willow spring dirt road outside of Moab
-Explored area north of Arches (via I-70):  Lapped Winter Warmer Canyon. Me then Izzy.  One 180 foot single line rap to a short pretty slot hike out and get rope. Cool area where you can see Arches in the distance.
-Solo  lap of Repeater Jr. Slot: Short awkward and diagonal chimney rap off a bush into a short pretty canyon. Grab rope after climbing out
-Early Morning ride up Hymasa and then Full Cap’Ahab: Super Techy and fun ride, then back to wake up family in the tent
-Successful solo summit of Elephants Butte, then hike over and up to Double Arches with Fam: with the good beta the accent only took 50 minutes,  Really neat to see Arches from its highest point.  Fun short route with lots of 3rd to 5th scrambling.
-Jr. Ranger Badge at Visitor Center: Mandatory.  Anna’s 9th
-Family ride on Paved Trail with kid carrier from River to Bar M trails: more enjoyable once the trail leaves the highway.  On the return we swapped the carrier and I did 2 adjacent trail rides.  Rusty spur and Sidewinder. Really fun simple trail.  Loved em
-Pizza Buffet at Zax’s then home

March 11-12:  White Rim with Pete
Camped on Mineral Springs Rd near 313.
Biked the whole 100 mile Loop on my Stumpjumper.  Chain broke the night before then twice on the loop.  Beautiful ride. Pete’s DI bike was noisy but made it the whole loop just fine.  Weather was awesome.  My knee started hurting the back third not sure if from ride mechanics or from banging it on a fall (on a hill I could not unclip from..)  Hard day but not as hard as Zion Traverse or Grand Canyon crossing. Maybe comparable to Buffalo 50.  

 March 23-26:  St. George and Red Rocks with Lisa, Mom, and Friends
First night we camped off the Silver Reef Rd outside of St George, Second night on a crappy BLM rd outside of Vegas, then 2 nights at Red Rock Campground
-Early morning slot in Silver Reef called Boltergeist.  Adjacent to Yankee Doodle.  Fun downclimbs and 2 or 3 raps.  Last one about 100 feet.  Short and easy and then back to Izzy and the Kids before they were out of bed.
-Met up with my sister Lisa and her friends in Red Rocks and Mom even came down for a day to watch the kids for us.  All easy chill climbing the crowded week-end.  (so crowded we didn’t get a camping spot the first night and barely got one the nxt day) Climbed: Hamlet Wall at the First Pullout (5 routes), Partial Frogland and Bourban Street (2.5 pitches, too crowded), Black Corridor and Great Red Book (3 pitches), “The Hop”  Ice box Necromancer Wall (3 pitches), rounded out the day with some easy climbing at Moderate Mecca @ Calico Basin and 4 pitches.  17.5 pitches. Hit the drive time to pitch quota with ease.  Fun to see newer climbers realize how awesome outdoor rock is especially the mecca, Red Rocks.

 March 31-April 2:  Moab..again… 5th time this year
Camped off Willow Springs again.  Lot of trailers and other campers, had to go out a ways out to get a spot.  Stayed there all 3 nights.
-Delicate Arch lap fast, first thing in the morning. 3.1 miles 25 minutes.  14:30 to the arch.  Then hike up with the kids for another lap while Izzy ran a lap.  Met up with Blues and Mottishaw fams. Fun scrambling around and near the arch.  
-Hike out to Landscape, Pine and Tunnel Arch with Kiddos.  A little windy but fun.
-Solo lap up Elephants Butte…again.  39 minutes round trip including 2 raps and summit of highest point in Arches.
-Rounded out day with climbing at Wall Street.  TR for the kids and “Fist Full of Potash” and “Flakes of Wrath” for me and Izzy.
-Huge steaks and pumpkin pie for Dinner
-Early morning solo ride of Porcupine.  Izzy was awesome and drove me out to the start and played with the kids at the park while I rode.  Very bumping ride fun and techy.  Glad I was on Spence’s full suspension Cannondale prophet.
-Met up with friends and family again and rode the Intrepid trails at Dead Horse Point with Izzy. Way smooth fun trails.  
-Rounded out day 2 with a group scramble up to Funnel Arch out on Kane springs.  Played on Rappel and swing under arch until the sun went down.  I love the view above the arch of the “fin country” sooo cool.  Creative team work to get kids and dog back to car safely in the dark.  Even little James swung on the Arch and looooooved it.  

-Decided to take a detour on the way home down past Hanksville to the North Wash to explore Leprechaun Canyon.  Wow. Unreal family friendly tight tight slot.  James had to turn side way to fit.  Shafts of light bending down onto us was the highlight of the trip for me. Soo cool.  

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