Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hiking the Gulch With Praying Strangers

Last week Lis and I went down south with a group of about ten folks to do some hikes and backpacking in the Escalante National Monument. The group was a little different that I am used to. It included Lis' father and cousin, and an assemblage of others who, as I came to learn, did not know each other well. Lis' father, Lamar, is an avid backpacker. Aged 69, he can outhike those one-quarter his age. Lamar loves the desert and started backpacking in his forties. He has lead many groups of scouts down there and loves to share with others the wonders of the desert canyons. The others in the group were an odd group of folks whom it seemed were only halfway having any fun. It was odd because many in the group were not very talkative or lively. This is of course relative to myself who could be described as a regular jabermouther who has his own blog and everything. Besides the lack of loquaciousness I found the four-times-a-day prayer gathering a little alienating, but mostly it was the frowns and the stony silence that was a drag. I dont mind thanking god (in lower case) for the food in my bowl, good health, asking for world peace, for ending of human suffering, and compassion. But anyway...

We arrived in the afternoon for a quick hike up to Calf Creek Falls. To the climber's right of the falls there was some very wet and slippery 20-degree slabs. After a quick look-around and obligatory tourist photo-ops I got to work on sending the slabs. Using my chacos, cinched down tight for security, I found small dimples in the rock surface to gain footing. After brushing away moss and dirt I put my tips and finger nails on micro fisures. One slip sent you surfing down the slabs like a slip-n-slide. After many failed attempts I found a line of weakness going to an obvious ledge

I'd give the route a solid 5.7 difficulty rating. Decend the route by surfing down the slope at excessive speed, tripping over a sand bank at the bottom and diving into a somersault, and almost colliding with a tree.

We spent the next two days hiking Coyote gulch by way of crack in the wall to red well. For dinner Lis and I had cous cous with curry powder, shalots, carrots, and cashews. I think the frownypatnsers had those microwave noddle thingys. The scenery was beautiful and all that. I definitely reccomend checking out Escalante if you havent. The canyon was cool and shady, lush and green with numerous arches and interesting formations along the way...

For last day we hiked up brimstone slot, which is next to Peekaboo and Spoky. We didnt make it far up the slot before serious chimneying and wading through sesspools was required. It did not matter though because we had to turn around because team Prozac wanted to leave for home by lunchtime.

All in all it was a good and interesting trip in a naturalistic and anthropological way.


Monday, May 1, 2006

Superiority Complex

Robert's job description I think says that he spends most of his time staring longingly at the broad and inspiring face of Mt. Superior while wishing to ski it, and also helping kids off and on the rope tow occasionally. Well, last Wednsday Robert finally got to ski it.

The team: Rob, Ben, John, and Yours Truly.

We woke up early and booted up the 3000+ face, gaining the summit right as the spring corn was softening up. Crampons and ice axes were the order of the day. The skis sat astride our backpacs.

Avalanche debris littered much of the face. Skiing down, we picked our way in between old slide paths to find the untouched sections. The spring corn skied so well it seemed mostly effortless, like on the rope tow where Rob works, but steeper and longer.

All told it was a great day if it wasnt for feeling so gosh darn tired.

Mountaineering: Walking uphill slowly in the snow while not feeling well.