Monday, February 20, 2012

On the Rocks

Sunday gave us an extraordinary little outing.  After almost six months since we last molested the stone, it was time to get off the horizontal and venture once more into regions where gravity and nerve play a particularly spicy role.  Think burly jalapenos, at least for the average flat lander.  For those acquainted with vertical travel, our climbs were tame affairs, but for us, after so long away from climbing, getting back into the game is always "interesting."  We took Jodi's sister along and traveled to a remote desert canyon remarkable for its flowing water pouring down through a dramatic granitic landscape, jumbled chaos of boulders and faces hundreds of feet high.  Much of the climbing here is difficult, but we knew of a few easy climbs that would be good reintroductions to the sport.  My approaching 50th birthday marks my 35th year of climbing, both numbers that leave me scratching my head in disbelief.  Can such things be?  Indeed they are, pilgrim, and you'd best get used to it. One incredible experience we had on the way out was when we stopped to water the foliage.  As Jodi stepped into a grove of tamarisk trees, they exploded with owls!  This was absolutely unique for us.  We've only seen them singly and usually during night or late dusk, early dawn.   This was a gaggle of owls, a veritable Harry Potteresque convocation of the curious raptors, at least a dozen, maybe more.  A group migrating?  Mysterious.  Unfortunately, it was impossible to photograph.  Being in the middle of a barren desert, however, the owls didn't go far but circled back quickly to roost in the thick branches.  Simply astounding.  Later, up in the wilderness of rocks, we saw a group of three hawks screeching their complaints into the blue winter sky.

About two hours of driving, adding ruthlessly to our carbon footprint, took us to a long, sandy wash and this view:

Water in the desert:

We thought we might have the place to ourselves--not an unusual occurrence out here--but we were later joined by a huge, noisy party that included much drinking, dope smoking, and even some gun play.  We did a climb close to the parking area then moved operations hundreds of feet into the wilderness of rocks and so had a fairly quiet (save for a few gun shots) afternoon.  A picture of the hero and his first climb (piss easy with much internal fear!):

After this climb, it was a strenuous hike with climbing gear up to the next area:

This wall was our objective.  We have in the past climbed to the summit.  This time, we only went about halfway up and set a rope for practice.  This wall is close to 300 ft. high:

Django feeling no pain:

The wilderness of rocks:

What a grand, wonderful day.  Get out there, folks.  Life is stinkin' short!

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