Monday, April 18, 2016

St. George, UT

Maybe I've said this before but we are dirtbags at heart. I can't tell you how good it feels to be back in the desert climbing again. Jason and I met climbing. We spent six months living out of the back of our 1985 Subaru, Old Brown, climbing all over the desert Southwest. I have dreamed so long about returning to our roots with our kids and now we are finally here on an extended climbing trip.

We spent an amazing week in St. George. We almost left mid-week to go to Zion but opted to avoid the crowds and instead explore more of what St. George had to offer. There is a ton of crowd-free hiking to be had. We fell into a routine of climbing in the morning and hiking in the afternoon, with the occasional stint at Starbucks for wifi catchup. Interesting side note about Utah: They don't do coffee. At all. We asked at the climbing store where a good coffee shop was. The first guy didn't know and the second guy told us either Jazzy's Rock n' Roll Cafe (seriously? who names their cafe that?) or Starbucks. We chose Starbucks, though being a dirtbag who is a coffee snob, I had Jason make me a coffee before we went there. Anyway. We had two days of rain which allowed our bodies to recover a bit for more climbing. We spent the first day of rain exploring the artsy Kayenta area, eating and lounging in a cafe, catching up on some work. The next day of rain we hiked Hellhole Canyon where we had read a waterfall forms on days of heavy rain. Perfect. I love the desert after a rain. The colors are so saturated and vivid. Our hike through scrubby desert ended at the end of the canyon where we were treated to two waterfalls cascading down the red sandstone cliffs.

After the rain passed we continued with our climbing in the morning and hiking in the afternoon routine. One afternoon, the boys, having gotten a taste of exploring caves while we were on the west coast of Vancouver Island, chose a hike to several lava tubes. With flashlights in hand, we explored deep underground through small squeezes and big caverns. Super cool. Our last hike in St. George was supposed to be a five mile hike up one ravine with a few caves at the end and then a hike down another ravine. We accidentally took the adventure route (in other words we were lost) and ended up hiking closer to 9 miles. Having climbed hard in the morning we were extra totally pooped by the end of the hike.

With Jason's back still hurting, I was the rope gun on this trip. It took a while to get used to leading but I ended up loving it. We started on some easy 5.10's worked through 5.11's and on our last day there I had my first-ever 5.12a lead, something I never thought I would do. I've followed on 5.12's but never thought I would be brave enough to lead one. Jason was able to follow, in spite of his back, and Isaac followed too, finishing his first-ever 5.12! I'm a proud mama.

During our stay, we camped in Snow Canyon where we met an amazing couple in their 70's. They are what we want to be when we grow up. Decades ago they spent years sailing with their family in a 24-foot sailboat in the Bahamas. They now spend their summers outside living in a teepee, ride their bikes everywhere, surf, hike, camp, travel and on and on. I hope we are that active and full of life when we hit their age. Thank you for the inspiration! It was so nice to meet you.

I know this post is getting really long. It really should have been two or three but I had technical difficulties with my photo software (which I won't get into so I don't scream) which delayed things. There's just one last thing to tell you about. One night while we were sleeping, a mouse managed to sneak into our camper van through the dashboard. Much to Jason's dismay I spent hours awake trying to figure out how to remove it. We had a couple of bags of chips on the floor that it was after so I grabbed those and headed outside. I made a little pile of chips on the road and then a trail of chips that led to the garbage dumpster where I deposited them. I was back in bed for ten minutes when I heard him crawl back in again. I realized maybe he was after the garbage because it had an old piece of bread in it. I repeated the same process with the bread that I had with the chips and discovered that some critter had already gathered all of the chips from the road. I then scoured the camper van for any food that was not locked in a cupboard and put it away. I climbed back into bed only to hear him crawling around. I got up again. I felt so helpless watching it crawl around with no way to catch it. Then I remembered I had an empty yogurt container in a cupboard. Maybe I could catch it like Jason had with the ones on the boat last summer? Given the large size of the mouse, the small size of my yogurt container and the uber-cramped space of the camper van, the chances were very, very low but it didn't keep me from keeping vigil and trying. All the while Jason was telling me it wasn't going to work and I should go to bed. Finally I gave up and climbed into bed. After laying there about two minutes, Jason's legs flailed about and he started letting out shuddering noises. He says, "Honey, you're not going to like this." The mouse had just woken him up by hanging out on his feet. Yuck. I sat up and watched for him longer but he didn't make any more appearances. I was finally able to lay down and fall asleep. Apparently Jason's kick which sent him flying was the trick we needed to scare him away for good because we have had no sign of him since. Ahhhh, my hero.

Click here for photos.

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