Adventure Climbing- Wind River Range (part 2)

The second part of an adventure climb in the Wind River Range

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Rock climbing

From down at the bottom of the climb, we’d envisioned what the scramble up to the rope-up spot and to a lesser extent the first pitch would be like and were mentally prepared for both. But things above that point were fuzzy, although we were confident that it would all become clearer once we got up there. Better not to confuse the issue with too much of a plan, we’d determined.

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Place Names

The names of places……

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Valley of the Monks, Copper Canyon

The various names that are attached to places are intriguing. Some that are acquired are obvious, since they either reflect some sort of location characteristic or simply commemorate an individual who was important to the place. But, others not quite so. Regardless of how or why, the names all tell a story in a few short words—some less straight-forward than others, but each worthy of knowing. Here’s a few such stories that I’ve heard. Listen, and maybe you will, too………………..

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Winter Camping in Montana

Winter camping and cross country skiing in Glacier National Park.

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Winter-like Camping

It was mostly naivety that got the three of us to where we were to begin with. That and my Ford pickup. A thousand or so miles of driving had taken us from Texas and then up into Montana’s Glacier National Park, where we planned to live out our dreams of winter camping and cross-country skiing. Since it was January, we had the place pretty much to ourselves, except for the two Park Rangers manning the Polebridge Ranger Station (where we entered the park) and the plethora of wildlife still out and about, such as elk and Gray Wolves.

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The Mine in Potosi’

Exploring the Cerro Rico mine.

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A Bridge to Somewhere

For whatever reason, we ended up in Potosi’, Bolivia on that particular part of our vacation and were looking for interesting things to do and ended up selecting the “mine tour” option. The city is “quite a ways” south of La Paz, sits at around 13,400 feet (making it one of the highest cities in the world) and is completely dominated by the mountain, Cerro Potosi’, which has been mined regularly for silver, since back in the days of the Spanish heyday.

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Lost and Found on the Silver Trail

“You’re not lost, if you don’t care where you are.”

Mountain biking the Silver Trail
Getting directions on the Silver Trail

By this point, we were probably some 20 miles from the last little outpost of a town that we’d been through, but were theoretically about to come to another. Jerry had the best maps of the area available loaded onto his gps, but it only told us where we were in relation to the relatively paltry data that it was loaded with. The realization that we might actually be the first people ever out in that part of Mexico’s Copper Canyon trying to figure out and quantify where the hell the old Silver Trail went went, among other things, left me with the feeling of simply being overwhelmed. The old adage of, “garbage in, garbage out” came to mind and was soon followed by the vision of a web page that simply said “no data available”. I was momentarily despondent as I looked at the convergence of three trails, all of which seemed to head up toward the top of a wrong ridge. Just as we were each desperately searching for any sort of clues about it all, I was saved, once again, by the quote- “you’re not lost, if you don’t care where you are”.

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Boquillas Canyon

Canoeing and rafting down the Rio Grande through Boquillas Canyon.

The entrance into Boquillas Canyon
OWA’s “Outpost I”, 1979 Canoeing through Boquillas Canyon on the Rio Grande. Big Bend National Park.

The third time that I floated the Rio Grande River through Boquillas Canyon, things went more smoothly. Since that was my first time to lead an actual group into the backcountry, that seemingly simple fact was an especially good thing. There were twelve of us on that particular trip, paddling two per aluminum canoe. We made the 33 mile excursion down the Rio Grande on the east side of Big Bend National Park over the course of three days, with two nights spent camping out along the way, had only one simple “getting knocked out of the canoe” situation and a straightforward shuttle at the end. Mostly, all we did go with the flow, soak up sun, gaze out at the mighty Sierra del Carmen mountains rising above us off to the southeast in Mexico and ponder the magnificence and complexities of the monstrous cliff walls which engulfed us much of the time, making us all feel mighty small.

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Fire in the Tarryalls

A tree catches fire in the Colorado backcountry at a particularly inopportune time.

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Penitente Canyon, Colorado

Lightning streaked across the sky and was followed instantly by an explosion of thunder, telling me that the thunderstorm was somewhere right above us. It was unsettling, but there wasn’t time to worry about it. I didn’t see any sort of flash hit the ground, but had to wonder if there was one up there, wherever it was that lightning came from, that had one of our names on it. The wind kept blowing relentlessly and the constant gusting made the whole situation seem all the more chaotic. But, where’s the rain, I thought? The Tarryalls needed it. A real downpour might put an end to the Hayman Fire as well as whatever it was that was burning up above us on the mountainside. Continue reading “Fire in the Tarryalls”