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October 23, 2007

Desert Grit

My first spring break trip of college was an epic road trip to Utah to climb and hike. I just for the first time returned to the area, to climb at Indian Creek with some Boulder friends.

I'm not much of a climber, but if I had "thing" in climbing, I think crack climbing would be "my thing." I love it. Not enough to do it all the time, but for one weekend of getting battered and bruised, I love it.

[Mark, Barbara, Marcus, and Joseffa.]

[What it takes to be safe.]

[Mark goes up.]


[Kacey's pup, Burrito.]

I also just love being in the desert.

[Big things to look at, small things to look at.]

By the end of the day, however, the wind had kicked up and to walk around I had to shield my eyes, while gusts sandblasted my bare thighs. What was I thinking, wearing shorts, anyway? Incidentally, I don't have any pictures of this part of the wall from this part of the day, since I didn't want to ruin my camera...

[On the protected part of the wall, Marcus descends from a 180-ft climb.... with quite an assortment of gear. One might even use the word "ridiculous."]

[Marcus and Barbara have a calm moment before stepping back out into the wind.]

As Barbara descended from the last climb of the day, we turned to see a neighboring valley disappear into whiteness. The whiteness was heading towards us. Rain? Snow? Dust? We'd find out soon enough, and the closer I was to the car the better. So I bid the others goodbye and started down to join Kacey and Burrito, who had already retreated downslope to get out of the wind.

The white turned out to just be moisture--nothing falling, just a light fog I guess--but Kacey did say that the car had been pelted with sand and that several gusts had her worried that her car would blow over. More worrisome still was the unknown state of our camp. We were a bit anxious to get back while there was still enough daylight to locate incidentals like, er, our tent.

Turns out our tent was fine. It had only blown about, say, 60 feet, and was caught upside-down in a brush-lined gully. The ground cloth and stakes (yes, we'd staked it--but the desert sand doesn't offer a whole lot of stability and we'd neglected to rock down our corners) were conveniently caught and/or strewn, respectably, at our tent's original location. No problem.

After a great meal of bison brats and beer and wine etc., we called it a night and crawled into our warm, cozy, fluffy, sand-filled sleeping bags. And rested our heads on sand-dusted pillows. Ah, the desert. The neighboring camp's blasted music lulled us to sleep (what is it with some people?), and several hours later the wind woke us up. Repeatedly. Turned out Kacey and I hadn't quite learned our lesson, and we'd again neglected to effectively stake out our tent--which meant that the rain fly flapped against the tent all night.

Needless to say, everyone was a little worse for the wear the next morning.

Still, we climbed, and despite a decent amount of cloud cover we were periodically treated to beautiful sunshine.

[A view downvalley.]

[Kacey and Burrito.]

We left in the early afternoon for the 6-7 hr drive home, which turned out to be about 8 1/2 hrs because of snow on the passes. The road was slow-going because it was slick, but there were also *quite* a number of semis stopped in the road--despite a sign stating that all commercial vehicles were required to chain up. Sigh. On the up side, the drive was at times absolutely beautiful. The mountains were dusted with snow in that classic dusted-with-snow sort of way, where there is still plenty of definition in the trees and houses but everything facing up is white. Very, very pretty. I felt at times like we were driving through a life-sized model train set--which I guess is funny, since model train sets are constructed to mimic real-sized communities--with perfectly-shaped housed nestled in perfectly-spaced lots and surrounded by trees, with light shining out from within and snow all around.

And, when it wasn't snowing, there were stars out.

Posted by beth at October 23, 2007 5:31 PM

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