Sunday, December 29, 2013

Photos from a road trip #2

From the Mojave, we headed south to the land of saguaros, the Sonoran desert.  None of these iconic cacti are found west of the Colorado River, although the cactus in the opening shot is a type of cholla--very pretty but nasty to tangle with!  Keep your distance and enjoy in the abstract, thank you very much.  We camped and hiked in the fabulous Kofa National Wildlife refuge, a place of over 500,000 acres set aside for  the elusive desert bighorn sheep, which we have spotted on a couple of occasions, although no this time.  Rough dirt roads and incredibly rugged mountains define the area.  Except for a couple of jeep drivers, we had the area to ourselves for a couple of days--sweet silence and remote camping.  Except for washes and the few roads, there are no trails, so one must navigate by the numerous landmarks.  We found that by carefully selecting our route, we could keep Django (and ourselves) clear of the dreaded cholla spines.  We always carry a Leatherman multi-tool for pulling spines and such from paws and boots and legs.  To our delight, Django go no spines in his paws on both the hikes we did, even if the second one was only following a road.  Jodi did, one morning, inadvertently lead the poor hound into a nest of the dreaded things, but I came running to the rescue and lifted Django--whole hog--out of the mess and cleared his paws.  Virtually windless, still and sunny days, cool and silent nights, the joy of desert camping in the winter:

We tried a little rock climbing in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix:

In the morning shade we headed for the Hand--the slender spire on the right.  I don't have a lot of pictures, but the climbing was thrilling, with often poor or sparse protection.  At one point I clipped into an old, bent, loose piton that, if I fell and it pulled (likely?), I would smash into the ground from at least 60 feet.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Photos from a road trip #1

We finally got on our way.  The grades, at long, bloody last, had been posted.  The house sitter was put in place, the rig packed, the winter air clear and crisp.  Our first stop was Joshua Tree National Park, featured above.  I didn't get any action shots of the climbing, but that sunset was one for the record books.  We're still adapting to life on the road, the tight quarters of the camper, the long winter nights.  The climbing has been going okay, but we both feel rusty and need to log more time.  Still, hiking, gawking at the big desert sky, climbing a few rocks, what more can you ask for?  Important, too, is digging deep into books we've been nibbling at but not really digesting.  My current read is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell--fantastic!  Count me in as a major fan.  Below are a couple of shots from hiking up Teutonia Peak in the eastern Mojave.  Currently we're doing a Las Vegas drive-by to visit some relatives.  Can't wait for southern Arizona.  Looks like good weather, at least for a while. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow daze

As people across the West are well aware, an arctic flow has descended upon us--thanks fer that, Canada.  We love it in remotest Tehachistan when the glaciers advance and the ice bears cometh.  Fortunately, it hit after school and during a weekend, so travel was never a question.  We sat back, watched the temperature and snow fall.  When the storm cleared, we lit out for the territories in the mountains hereabout.  As a teenager when I became aware of what mountains really were, I always fantasized about living in a place where it snowed.  Here, at least a few times each year, my dreams come true.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rocky bits

We've been seduced by the gravity dance lately, so I thought I throw up a few photos of our cool/cold weather destinations.  The lead photo is from Texas Canyon, as a few below will show as well.  It's a strange conglomerate that can have loose pebbles and holds, but these clean up over time, but if you look closely you can see holes, pockets, knobs and nubbins.   Some of the biggest holds are chunks of coarse granite somehow glued to the matrix--weird and fun.  All of the climbing is bolt protected as there are few cracks.  The route above is unnamed, clocks in at easy 5.9, and runs for a full rope-length, about 150 ft. 

Jodi and Django keep a sharp eye on the fool on the rock:

Next we sampled some limestone way out in the desert:

December on a south-facing crag and we were hot!  Not scorching, but Jodi did construct a shade structure for Django, which he was happy to use.  We enjoy this time of year when the rest of the country is icy and cold and we get to grab sun-warmed rock.  Of course, in August, this wall would be killing-hot.  Everything to its season.  Currently, this is our seasons as I type these words:

So we hunker down, sip hot coffee, and enjoy the snow as it blankets this remote corner of Tehachistan.  The ice bears are coming down out of the high peaks.  Time to sharpen some sticks and stoke the fires.