Friday, 24 October, 1998. Mexican Hat, Utah.
I think the rain gods must like me. Maybe I should have been a farmer. Starting with Oregon, it has rained every day except today. And today's not over :-)
While in Seattle I managed to catch up with quite a few of my Seattle friends. Thursday night, Chris and I went out to dinner with Shaula Massena, her husband Darrin and Darrin's sister. Friday I visited Shaula at Microsoft and got her to take me to the company store. Bought Microsoft Streets and Trip Planner 98. Shaula had worked on Trip Planner. Pretty cool stuff, just wish I didn't have to wait for my laptop to boot to use it. Microsoft sprouts new buildings everytime I visit. Not sure which is better to own stock in: Microsoft or their construction contractors. Finally went to see Antz. Congradulations to Lawrence Kesteloot for his work at PDI which got his name in the credits. He's famous! Friday evening I went out to dinner with two friends, Mark Jaremko and Peter Engrav from when I was an summer intern at Microsoft. Enjoyed excellent sushi, then we retired to Mark's favorite wine bar. I'd never been to a wine bar, it was fun tasting some excellent wine (thanks Mark!). Mark is a bit of a regular there, the owner/bartender greeted him by name. In spite of having a great time in Seattle, the bug to hit the road was biting me again. So Sunday morning I started heading south.
The good 'ole US of A is huge! In two days, I drove 1000 miles. I didn't leave Seattle quite as early as planned, so I only got in 400 or so miles on Sunday. I'd planned on spending the night in Salt Lake City, but the number I had for Andy Byerly had been disconnected with no forwarding information. So I continued on.
The current issue of Climbing magazine has an article about a bouldering area called Joe's Valley. I assumed that it was named after the guy who discovered the area or something. Nope, road signs give directions to Joe's Valley reservoir. I pulled in after dark, after over six hundred miles of driving. I was pretty beat. Its times like these that I'm glad I don't have to bother with a tent and can sleep in the back of my truck. In spite of all the driving I'd seen an incredible sunrise, sunset and now stars. Maybe this isn't so bad afterall.
The next morning I slept in. The cold wind outside had something to do with that. I'd hoped by having driving 1000 miles I'd be somewhere a little bit warmer. No such luck, so I rolled over back to sleep. Still not ready to leave my warm sleeping bag I read for a while. Finally the sun was peering over the ridge and warming things up.
So what is bouldering? I define it as soloing where I'm still willing to jump off. Wanting and willing to are two different things! I had the place to myself, which was both a blessing and a curse. When you're attempting to pull an awkward mantel move, fifteen feet off the ground with no one to spot you, you get a little nervous. There I was trying to finish off this V2 problem. But I couldn't pull myself over the top. No large holds on the top to yard on. Getting gripped I down climbed the problem. Studing the route from the ground, I saw a few small edges that I might be able to use for my feet. A light drizzle was starting, so jumped back on the rock. At the top, I was able to use the small foot holds I'd spied to be able to finish the route. I'd hoped to boulder for a while longer, but the drizzle suggested it was time to continue on towards Moab.
In Moab I hoped to find a climbing partner or two and try my improved crack climbing skills on the desert cracks. Checking out the local crag, Potash Road, I meet Kyle Brennan out on the road from New Zeland. Kyle was considering hitting the road for Yosemite, but agreed to stay an additional day. Continuing to troll for partners, I meet Colleen, from Colorado who leads 11b on granite. She was going to Castleton Tower the following day, but would be interested in climbing together after that.
Kyle didn't have much experience, but gave the climbs his best shot. I started out on a 5.8 to see how much I remembered sandstone cracks. I climbed ok, but not as smooth as I wanted. Regardless I scoped out a 5.10a next to it. Go figure, but the .10a felt easier. Here Kyle was getting stumped, but kept at it. The clear skies of the morning had been replaced with gray overcast skies. Walking further down the road, I lead up a bolted 5.10a face climb. The first bolt was a little higher than I would have liked, but I kept myself focused. This thin face climbing stuff is hard! Give me a crack! Kyle started up just as it -- started to rain! Hmmm, I'm noticing a pattern here. Given the rain, Kyle hit the road. I spent the remainder of the afternoon reading, hoping the rain would end.
Thursday morning it was guess what? That's right, raining. Colleen hadn't stopped by, so I decided to give up climbing to be a tourist. I headed south to Canyon de Chelly, located in the Navajo lands in north east Arizona. Canyon de Chelly has impressive indian ruins. Navajo still live in the valley, much as they did two hundred years ago. Pickup trucks outnumber horses though. To enter the valley proper you need to have a Navajo guide and you still can't enter the indian ruins. Too many regulations for my tastes, so I didn't bother. I did take a lot of photos of the incredible canyon formations, especially of Spider Rock. Spider Rock is a free standing 800' tall pillar. Too bad climbing is totally restricted in the Canyon.
Back in August while at City of Rocks, my friend Debbie Smith had cooked an incredible thai green chicken curry. I'd been looking for green curry paste without luck ever since. I finally found some while in Seattle. Tonight was the big night. While cooking, I glanced over my shoulder to see a nasty set of storm clounds headed my way. I turned up the heat a couple of degrees and cooked like mad. As soon as dinner was finished, I battened down my cooking gear and retreated to the truck. By now the thunder and lightening was very close. I'd beaten the rain!
Thursday morning, I broke camp early to hopefully get pictures of the canyon with morning light. No such luck, the sky was heavily clouded over. So I headed west for Navajo National Monument where two large indian ruins are located. Keet Steel the best preserved set of ruins requires a 17 mile round trip hike. I was looking forward to backpacking in to see the ruins. Maybe I'd get to hike around the ruins themselves. This was not to be the case. Access to both set of ruins requires a ranger lead tour which is only given May to September. Argh! I was so bummed.
Dejected I continued a little further north to Monument Valley, hoping the regulations there wouldn't be as restrictive. In Monument Valley you have to stay along a 17 mile dirt road, no hiking is permitted. In spite of this, Monument Valley in an incredible place. I arrived in late afternoon, with clear skies, perfect for photography. By dark I'd burned a couple of rolls of film and returned to the campsite.
For the past few days I'd been planning on using my sun shower to clean up. That requires sun shine. Thus I was very glad to see the coin op showers at Monument Valley. For the first two minutes the water was icy cold, but finally started warming up.
In the morning, I got up early to take pictures of the sunrise over Monument Valley. I really ought to break down a buy a tripod. Till then I'll have to continue to use my poorman's tripod -- folded jacket on a boulder.
I'm continuing my tour of the southwest and am planning on visiting Hovenweep National Monument and Mesa Verde over the next few days.