(I wrote most of this Wednesday driving across Utah)
The past few days haven’t been good for fully explaining the range of events on this trip. I like working on this blog, and haven’t gotten to share as many thoughts as I would like. The previous description of my car adventure left out several important details due to a lack of time in writing the post, and lack of battery power on my computer. Editing the blog is possible from my phone, but only while I have cell service, which is spotty here in southern Utah. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so I’ll try to share a few more photos to break up the text.
The previous entry tells the story pretty well up to Sunday afternoon, when the tow truck dropped us off at the campground and took off with my car for destination unknown (the repair shop). It was an odd feeling, to watch this machine (the car) that is so essential to this part of my current journey get towed away. During the extraction of the car from the bush, I had been so focused on the task at hand that I didn’t really have time to emote the frustration and sadness related to the experience. As I mentioned, for a few hours, my morale bottomed out. It was hot, my car and possibly my trip was seriously off plan, and I have to give a shout out to Jordan for being a staunch companion and good friend. We played with the new camera, talked things through, and he was an essential part of getting me back on my feet. Jordan has a great talent for simply letting things go. As I mentioned in the first post of this blog, letting go of the baggage that does not matter is what this journey is about, and it’s been fun to realize that my partner for these first two weeks has so much to offer as an example for that lesson.
As I also mentioned, we hitched a ride back out to climb later than afternoon, and while my lead head was fairly shot, it felt good to get in a few easy pitches at the sport climbing area. The climbing was easy, moving upwards on the perfect pocketed sandstone felt calming after the events of the morning. Monday, after talking to the garage, taking stock of things, and a kettlebell workout to get my mind convinced of my body’s capacity for work, we regrouped and I finally started to really believe that frankly- if this is the worst thing that happens on this trip, I will have done very well.
The previous post also didn’t discuss the title. Lots of people talk about their odds in Vegas, obviously with regard to the gambling. In my case, I have to allow it seems like bad odds to hit a rock and destroy my oil pan. Bad odds to need a variety of expensive services not covered by AAA or my auto insurance. Bad odds that these previous circumstances severely limited the amount of climbing we were able to do while in Red Rocks. I let these circumstances degrade my experience of that place (thought I do have to allow that I stayed relatively optimistic throughout our time there), and that is simply unfortunate.
More importantly, I have to consider just how good our odds were. That we didn’t puncture the oil pan further from the road. That there were cactus in just the right places to set up an appropriate pulley system. That we got an awesome tow truck operator with a great sense of humor and strong determination to get us out of our situation. That we found other climbers more than happy to help us with everything from rides to charging cell phones, to watching our stuff. That we found an unbelievable family (with a cop behind the wheel no less), who passed us on the highway and turned around to come pick us up and take us directly where we wanted to go, in time to salvage some of our climbing day and part of our experience. I mentioned Ray and Denise in the previous post, but need to thank them again. They picked us up because they felt it was an essential duty as born-again Christians. You can follow Denise and her family as they walk the true Christian walk, here. It was refreshing to connect with people through their charity, despite the differences in our beliefs. They asked some important questions regarding my journey that I hope to address as part of this journey.
Tuesday, with the car, gear, and itinerary back in order, we decided to stay one additional day in Vegas in order to do a little bit of the climbing that had originally inspired me to include Red Rocks on my itinerary. As we discussed our objectives, I discussed big crack systems and traditional climbing protection, inserted and removed by the climbers as they pass over the terrain (most of our climbing to this point has been on sport routes with bolted protection). Jordan has limited experience with this type of climbing, and while it is what I hope to focus on for the rest of the trip, I realized I hadn’t led more than 5 trad route since foot surgery. We warmed up on two easy 5.7 pitches, which despite a crowd of other climbers, went easily. We headed for the shade and the ultra-classic Dark Shadows route and sent the first four pitches (the most classic part) easily as well. I’m calmer on lead above my gear, but still have a lot of work to do in recognizing the right sizes to get gear in quickly. Rappeling off the route however, I started to get distracted with some serious foot pain on both feet. My old surgery site, and the bunion growing on my right big toe. I’m worried about the implications this could have for my continued activities.
We left Vegas yesterday morning and stopped a few hours later in Zion National Park in southern Utah. A place I’ve always wanted to go, and a place full of serious, committing climbing. Looking at the walls, I felt both inspired and scared. Jordan and I jogged most of the trail up to Angels Landing in the mid afternoon, and took the bus to the end of the road to catch a glimpse of the famous narrows canyon. My new camera started to prove it’s value, and our trip felt back on track.
Enjoy a few photos from our hike to Angels Landing in Zion National Park!