A blog about climbing full time on the road.

matthewandcassie's items Go to matthewandcassie's photostream

Thursday, May 22, 2008

big fluffy flakes

It was 90 on Tuesday, but this morning it's snowing at sundance again. It's really coming down fast as I type this entry. Living at 6500 feet in the mountains really allows for interesting weather patterns.

Sorry it's been so long since our last blog post. We didn't take any pictures last weekend, but we did still get out. We went to Big Cottonwood Canyon with the Utah climbing club. Got on some trad topropes that allowed us to practice our gear placement (which we haven't done since Lover's Leap last August). I guess we've been slipping a bit on the trad routes. It was a super fun day though and by the end I led an easy 5.6 that felt really good. We also climbed one of the best 5.8 topropes I've ever climbed (it was a toprope because it's 5.8R on lead, meaning if you fell you'd probably hit the ground). All in all it was a super fun day in the shade.

Wanted to give a shout out to our friends Hank and Marla who have made it back to Alaska after over 2 years on the road around the world. Their trip has inspired Cassie and I to try to do a similar trip in a few years, and really was a good part of the inspiration for this blog as well. We're looking forward to seeing them when they come back to Utah. Check out the link to their blog on the right side of this page.

This weekend we're going to try and head to Maple Canyon to climb on the super cool cobblestone. My fingers are almost healed so it's time to start climbing hard again!

Monday, May 12, 2008

yes, it's snowing

We awoke this Monday to find that the weather forecasters were indeed correct. It's snowing this morning at Sundance. And it's sticking....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

San Rafael Swell

Howdy all! This weekend Cassie and I headed out to the desert to get in some hiking before it gets too hot. We've been wanting to explore the San Rafael Swell so we picked a couple of things to do around there. In case you don't know the San Rafael Swell is one of the least known areas and yet probably one of the best places to explore in Utah. It's BLM land so camping is free and there's pretty much no one around unless you go to Little Wild Horse canyon (an extremely popular slot canyon for good reason). We decided to explore the west side of the Swell and were rewarded with some fantastic views. After taking my Chem test on saturday we tore down to the Swell and managed to get a short hike in to the Rochester Pictograph panel that comes highly recommended (from our guidebook). It was only a half mile hike to the panel and wow was it worth it. The panel was fairly large with more pictographs in one place than I've ever seen. All kinds of things were drawn on it; lizards, people, deer, snakes and interesting graphics that we couldn't understand. As usual there was a little vandalism. I have to wonder what kind of person thinks people would think anything but bad things of him/her if they put their initials on top of ancient art? After enjoying the panel we headed east towards Eagle Canyon. The suby performed admirably on the dirt road that lead to the mouth of the canyon. We had some close spots but made it to our campsite for the night without any trouble. Indian food was on the menu and we scarfed it down while talking about our world roadtrip that we've been planning for about a year or two. That night was a perfect desert night. No wind and when I woke up in the middle of the night was greeted by one of the most spectacular skies i've ever seen (and that includes skies with the aurora shimmering away in Alaska). The next morning we woke up and ate our favorite breakfast food; Croissants from the French bakery Elaine's. Living in Provo can leave one's palate feeling a bit parched for good cuisine, but eat just one chocolate almond croissant and things are right with the world. We headed down the road to find the start of the canyon and were hiking a bit after 9. The entrance to the canyon is a wash that narrows down over the course of about 4 miles. It was cool as we started hiking up the sandy riverbed. Gradually the sun began to shine it's full force and we (or at least I) was feeling a bit warm as we wound around the snake-like wash. We enjoyed the hike as much as one can hiking in soft sand. Just imagine trying to hike on a beach for four miles and you can imagine it gets a bit old after a while. We saw interesting side canyons and cool huge old trees that have managed to eek out a living in a place where flash floods provide the water for live. Mojo by this time had figured out that staying near the edge of the wash allowed him to stay in the shade so he was mostly happy though his tongue showed he was hot by hanging so far out of his head I thought he might lose it. We arrived at the narrow part of the canyon by about noon and found that it was going to be difficult to get mojo up. One plan almost ended with mojo taking a 15 foot fall to the bottom of the canyon so we decided the old-fashioned way would probably be best. A few hundred more yards of hiking and we were at the dry-fall (that supposedly has water perennially according to the book). We had a bite to eat and headed back down the canyon to explore another cool canyon that the book says is one of the best in the whole Swell (and when you're talking about 2 million acres that's saying something). We found Forgotten Canyon easily and decided to take turns exploring since the rock jams that confronted us were too large and challenging for Mojo. It was definitely worth the extra effort to explore this side canyon because it was quite narrow and beautifully sculpted.

The walls went up for hundreds of feet and the water had eroded the sandstone in wonderful waves. After getting our fill we started trudging back to the car. After that we drove back to Sundance talked to our Mom's on the phones; Happy Mothers Day Dottie and Zsa!!! and found out that tomorrow we are supposedly getting 3-5 inches of Snow!!! Ah Utah, what a wonderfully weird place. Not to many places in the US can you go hiking in a slot canyon with temps in the 80s then go back to the mountains where it might be snowing. On top of that we didn't see a single person for a whole day which is just perfect.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Red Rocks post

Well, we're back in Utah, and finally have pictures uploaded from red rocks. Our trip was a lot of fun. We ended up just hiking on Sunday instead of climbing because my finger still hurt and I didn't want to injure it more. We ended on doing a 5 mile hike to a peak called Turtle Head Peak. It was a great hike that started by the red sandstone and worked it's way up a wash through lots of flowering yuccas and wildflowers.

As we hiked higher the rock started turning to limestone. Near the summit in the shade of a small tree we found this cool vegetation. The hike was labeled "difficult" in the guide, but we found it to be only a moderate hike. Mostly the hard part was coming back down and trying not to slip and fall with all the loose rock around. The summit was a beautiful view of the red rock valley and the las vegas valley as well.

After we finished that hike we took a 2 mile hike to a watering hole that was in the sandstone. The hike was really pretty. It followed a little wash with cool sandstone features and little slots in some places (the slots often had tp in them, yes that's toilet paper Gross!) On the way we saw this super cool lizard (Great Basin Collared Lizard) that let us take some really close up pictures of it. The water hole itself was fantastic.

The water was very still with reeds growing in it. There were textured sandstone walls all around and even a toad (Red Spotted Toad) that was quite noisy. For those who think that deserts only support jack rabbits and snakes think again. Deserts can have an amazing oases in the most unusual places. Cassie and I agree that this is our favorite part of the desert. It's not like a rain forest where you see green everywhere. You have to search for the little treasures and when you find them they are more amazing because of their rareness. Another example of this was our hike in the Paria when we would come upon springs flowing out of sandstone. These unique little springs contained some of the most beautiful water I have ever seen.

Check out our flickr pictures to see a lot more pics from our trip.

To finish off the trip we decided to have dinner at a very nice French restaurant on the strip since our favorite sushi restaurant (really the only sushi restaurant we've eaten at in vegas, but who's counting?) was closed on Sunday. We were practically falling asleep on our plates after a long day of hiking in the sun. The food was excellent with champagne, duck, lamb and exquisite deserts. We fell asleep with very full bellies. The next morning I dropped Cassie off at the airport and went to work.

So what's new for this week? Well, I just started my Chemistry class (i'm a perpetual college student) and Cassie heads to Vernal for a day or two (yes the name pretty much says what the place is like). This weekend, we're going to just hike, go to an aquarium and maybe climb on sunday. My finger feels much better so it's time to get back at it.