Saturday, June 6, 2015

Cobbles, snow, and birthdays, OH MY!

 Zach and I headed from Jack's Canyon to Flagstaff where we found the best campsite! It was just out of town, down a descent road and it was FREE! We saw elk a few times and enjoyed the Flagstaff forest. We were near a dirt bike trail, but it wasn't very busy and everybody was friendly. A sport climbing crag called "The Pit" was just a few miles down the road. It was a pretty easy hike and had some really fun climbing! I was able to onsight a 5.11b! (I climbed it without knowing info about the route ahead of time) We got to go to Sonic and celebrate with a Brownie/cookie dough blaster:) Zach did awesome as well and we really enjoyed the climbing there.
Hiking out of "The Pit."

 We headed down to Sedona, AZ one day to climb a desert tower. It is a really beautiful area and with lovely clouds giving us a reprieve from the sun, we set out to find our desert tower to climb! Our first plan included a 30 minute hike to the climb, but when we got there, the parking was full. So, we found another tower close by. Our directions were from Mountain Project and included things like "when you cross a single track bike trail, make sure you are in the right wash." I learned this trip, a wash is an area in the desert that water flows through during monsoon season. There was no water, so it made for a great trail...for the first part of our trek. Unfortunatly, cacti, trees, rocks, and other obsticals barred our access to the climb. Either we were in the wrong wash, or it is just a really rough final push to the summit. The desert won this battle and we finally turned around. We really enjoyed the hike despite not getting to climb. The weather really was perfect and a lot of the plants were in bloom! It was just going to get hotter in Sedona, so we headed back to our campsite in Flagstaff.
Heading into beautiful Sedona, AZ.

My excited driver!
Zach with an agave plant on our misadventure in Sedona.
The desert was in bloom!
 After doing laundry and enjoying a little more time in Flagstaff, we hit the road for Utah, and hopefully, cooler temps. On our drive, we saw beautiful rock formations, a wonderful sunset, and Lake Powell. We found a free campsite along Hwy 89 and then carried on towards Joe's Valley to check out some boulders. On our way, we passed near enough to Bryce Canyon to get us to go check it out. With our parks pass, the entry is free, making it a fun (and cheap) way to break up the drive. It did start to rain on us part way through our tour, but it made the area green and beautiful. My favorite part was seeing a baby prong-horn antelope and its parents! He was a cute little thing darting all over.
Sunset in N. Arizona/S. Utah.

 Bryce Canyon National Park
Quick pic before the rain moves in!
The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon
Rainy lunch prep:)
Joe's valley was lovely and we enjoyed the climbing, but we quickly decided we were too hot and wanted to check out Maple Canyon a little further north. The drive between the two places was amazing! We even came across the Mammoth Discovery site at over 9,000 feet! It is the highest elevation a mammoth has been discovered and he had died in a muddy area, so his remains were very well perserved. It was a beautiful area and cool thing to stumble across.

Our Joe's Valley campsite.
The Mammoth discovery site in Utah.
Beautiful alpine lake!

After a breathtaking drive through the mountains of Utah, we arrived in Freedom, UT and found Maple Canyon. The camping is mostly reserved online, but we were able to snag campsite #15 for the week. It was the perfect spot to base out of because it was at the start of the trail to most of the climbing we wanted to do! The rock is conglomerate and is basically river stones glued into sandstone.
We had a wonderful time getting back in shape on steep routes! By the end of the week, Zach was projecting "49" (5.12a) and I was working on "Zoaster Toaster" (5.11d)! All the local and out of town climbers we met were wonderful. Tom and Sarah were our neighbors and also traveling for the summer. We hope to meet back up with them in July or August!
Besides steep routes, Maple also has some multipitch sport climbs. We did a 5.9+ at the end of the canyon and enjoyed the spectacular views from the top! For Zach's birthday, we did a multipitch route at night with our headlamps! I only got freaked out by the dark a few times! The shadows we cast on the rocks looked a little freaky, but it was all worth it when we got to the top and got to see the night's sky.
Our other big adventure for Zach's birthday was to hike the North Peak of Mt. Nebo. I keep calling it Mt. Nepo, but maybe someday I'll get it right. It was an eight mile round trip hike from 9,000-11,000 ft in elevation. It seemed doable to us, but also a bit of a challenge! We took up our snow gear just in case the path was not clear just yet. I'm glad we did because about 50% of our trail was covered in snow! I'm pretty proud of us though, because we found our way through the snow, trees, and scree field to the top!! The views were epic and we had a blast doing it!
Zach on the trail!
Taking a quick break:)
Zach on top of the ridge we worked so hard to gain!!!
Summit selfie!
Back to the bottom! Happy Birthday, Zach!!
For a much deserved reward and birthday celebration, we made our way to Oriental Garden in Nephi, UT for a late lunch. It was delicious and we loved the AC:) Zach got lots of birthday love from everyone before we headed back into the canyon and out of service. It was just getting dark as we pulled back in, so the timing was perfect to finish out our day on the night climb!
The next morning we climbed a bit more in Maple canyon, but both of us were pretty exhausted. We decided to head into the town of Fountain Green for lunch at their downtown cafe. It was another fabulous burger and fries meal!
We are now taking the day off from climbing and catching up on laundry, blog posts and working on our videos for the trip! Here is the link to the latest one !!

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