Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Utah Adventure 2007

Climbing and Camping and Hiking, Oh My! We took a few days off in April to take a trip to explore the countryside of Utah. April 4th we drove down to Ogden, UT and spend the night in a jolly old Motel 6. This one photo sums up our Ogden experience. Each to their own...but we were glad to be moving on in the morning.

"Tasty :-/"

From Ogden, UT we drove down to Maple Canyon for some great climbing on cobble stone walls. Maple Canyon is located just outside of Freedom, Utah around 2 hours from Salt Lake City. The walls provided some interesting and fun climbing. This was our first time climbing on conglomerate rock; climbs were hard to judge with thousands of rounded rocks ranging from the size of golf balls to beach balls, with most of the rocks looking like a good old Idaho potato. Each move on a climb was a surprise; you might end up with sloper, a pocket, crimper, busted off cobble, or an indentation of where a stone use to sit. Generally it felt like you had to touch 1/2 dozen cobbles before settling on a hold.

"Cobble-cobble goodness"

We ended up climbing the following routes: Crunchy Bug 5.7, Massengale the Moose 5.8, Grease Bunny 5.7, Drowning Baby Fish 5.7, Chocolate Doobie 5.7, Redemption of Madonna 5.9 and The Big Kahuna 5.10b.

After a good day's worth of climbing we hopped on our mountain bikes as set off to explore our wooded canyon. Maple Canyon sits at an elevation of about 6800 feet, and still had patches lying about. The most noteworthy place we hiked into was Box Canyon. Amazing walls towered overhead as we hiked up the dry riverbed, bolted routes were everywhere! We checked out the climbing book and the majority of the climbs were into the 5.12 rating, above our climbing abilities, but cool just to see. Box Canyon had just a little ice left on one of its walls, Maple Canyon also has multiple established ice climbing routes in the winter.

"Can't wait to go back!"

Friday April 6th, 2007 we packed up and headed out of Maple Canyon to our next adventure destination: Horseshoe Canyon and the Great Gallery. Horseshoe Canyon contains some of the largest and most visually stunning rock art that I have ever seen! However getting to the Great Gallery to see its treasures was another story!

We have a guide book that recommended a mountain bike ride/hike to the Great Gallery via the East rim of the canyon. We learned later that most people access the canyon from the west. Over 2 hours later and 47 miles of graded dirt road lead us to the Hans Flat Ranger Station, where we talked to the ranger and got some more details on the ride. She also informed us that the last 15 mile stretch of road goes from a poor two-wheel-drive road to a bad four-wheel-drive road, and that it just got re-opened today. Apparently heavy rain washed parts of the road out.

"Hope she doesn't rain!"

We ended up driving about 7 miles down the crude road before we had our fill. We studied the guide books and maps and realized that the road we were on was a dead end. We would have to turn around anyways and drive back after the ride/hike. We decided to drive back 30 some miles to the West end of the Canyon and camped for the night. See map below (Red Dot = where we stopped, Blue Dot = West End of Canyon)

"Map to Horseshoe Canyon"

Here's some views of the road, the pictures don't do the road justice!

"Where's the road?"

"Big fun road"

That night we set up camp at the Horseshoe Canyon trailhead and awoke Saturday morning for a great 4 hour hike. Spring was in the air, plants and flowers were blooming along the trail as we walked along the sandstone walls. The canyon floor still had small amounts of water and groves of ancient cottonwood trees. We saw 5 distinct areas that had paintings, truly a sight to see. Here's one picture from the Great Wall.

"The Holy Ghost and Companions"

Our last stop on the Utah Adventure 2007 was Moab and Arches National Park. Camping in Moab was already full by the time we got to Moab so we had to drive out to Castle Valley in-order to find some camping. We ended up finding some free camping near Castleton Tower. We got in a nice hike before dinner and got some great views of the Castleton Tower, the Rectory, and the Priest.

"Desert Tower Climbing"

Sunday April 8th 2007 was our last adventure day and it was jammed packed like the rest. We awoke to early morning rain showers that fortunately subsided just before breakfast. We packed up camp and headed off to Arches National Park for a bit of our own desert tower climbing and more arches that you can shake a stick at. The early morning rain showers came back and about scraped our plans of climbing Owl Rock. I had a great time leading this route; this was our first sandstone crack climb. I truly believe that climbing is at least 75% mental, the route is a 5.8 but felt much harder due to my unfamiliarity with the rock, inexperienced with leading trad and the thought that it could start to rain again. Heck I top-roped a 5.11b yesterday and it didn't give me as much grief as Owl Rock.

"Rappelling down after the climb"

Owl Rock gave Angela some woes too, but I'm really glad she finished the climb, the view was wonderful at the top! The rest of the day we spent hiking around the park looking at all the spectacular features.

"Utah Adventure 2007"

That night we spent in a hotel in Moab, where we went out on the town, had some good food and tasty brews! A great end to a great trip!

Here's all the pictures from the trip: pics