One of the great things I am slowly learning about living out of the car is the option to stay or go. We find a place that we like, so we stay but if not we just hop in the car and go, such a nice luxury.
These last few days we have traveled from Moab all the way to just west of Las Vegas, Nevada and have had the chance to stay or go wherever we please. Along the way we have mostly stayed off of any large interstates and have done our best to stay on scenic routes that leads us to our next destination.
We hopped onto highway 191 and headed our way to Natural Bridges National Monument. A very small park that honestly looks minuscule on a map and would be easily passed. Neither of us had ever been there so we decided to make a quick stop and we were both pretty glad that we did. After going to the visitors’ center we drove along the one way road that has a scenic view point to every bridge. There weren’t a ton of people and the bridges were great. Personally I think the monument is quite underrated and would love to spend a little more time in there next time we make our way through Utah.
All of the parks throughout southern Utah are all a little bit of the same. Very similar colors and landscapes but there is something about each one that makes it quite unique. We spent the next day or two making our way to Cedar City, Utah which was supposed to have a plethora of sport climbing but we stopped at some more parks along the way. Making a quick stop in Capital Reef National Park and eventually going down to Bryce Canyon and spending a little bit of time there.
Before we had actually gotten all the way to Cedar City we camped outside of Henrieville, Utah and woke up the next morning and headed into Kodachrome State Park. Our first park fee we actually had to pay thus far into the trip! Kodachrome is a super small little state park in the southern part of Utah and there is some good smaller hikes located in it. So after doing the classic hike along some slick rock we said our goodbyes and headed on a small dirt road into the southern part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Which we had briefly driven through the northern half of the monument on our way to Henrieville.
There is one arch located in the park called Grosvenor Arch. Towering 150ft above the ground we knew that we had to make a quick stop since we were so close. So we headed down the dirt road to quickly be surprised by some ranchers working a cattle drive with about 30 head of cattle down the dirt road. I am from Idaho and I have seen many a cattle in my life but there is not many things in the world that can take you into such appreciation for all the hard work that farmers and ranchers do for the world than seeing ranchers work cattle. Long hours in the hot sun and dirt moving the herd from one pasture to the other. Once the ranchers saw us they whipped and hollered and the herd parted and we made our way through with a smile and a thank you and went our way.
Once we got to the arch we were both pretty taken aback by its size. The double arch towers over most of the arches in Arches National Park and the fact that it’s so hidden into the desert makes it a much less viewed arch compared to the arches that get vast flocks of visitors every day. We stayed and ate lunch with a couple from Virginia and then headed back into town only to come head on with the cattle drive once again.
By this time we had had a few days off from climbing and were ready to make our way into Cedar Canyon. Once we arrived it was... cold. It reminded us of Logan Canyon, where we got one route in and decided it was too cold to keep on climbing and headed south. So after one night in the canyon and some research at the local library in Cedar City we made the same decision, head south! So we drove an hour into St George, Utah where we got some groceries, water, and beta for some climbing just outside of the city at an area called Woodbury Road Crags.
We headed out into the desert and found the climbing area and immediately headed to one of the climbing walls. Along this one dirt road there is 3 massive cliff faces all filled with sport routes that range from 5.6 to 5.14. We definitely got our climbing fix in as we climbed for the next 3 days. But once we arrived we went to the wall that had the least amount of climbs that are at our level. The wall is called "Black and Tan". We made our way up and found two 5.7s to hop on before the sun went down. Before we started climbing we put our hands on the wall and were immediately put off by the feel of the rock. It was super sharp, these walls are all rock called "Kaibab Limestone". The sharpest rock we had yet to climb on and very different feeling than the sandstone we had been climbing on in Moab. We looked at the routes we wanted to climb and knew that if we fell we would cheese grade down the face of the slab and be pretty beaten up. So with that in mind we started climbing! We both lead two routes called "Glutton for Punishment" and "Redolence". Both were a good introduction into what the next few days of climbing would bring us.
Our second day of climbing on Woodbury Road was on a wall called "Solstice". A bit of a hike up to the actual climbing spot gives you a great warmup and once we arrived we were both felt ready to climb. I started out the day on a slabby 5.7 called "Breakfast for the Damned". I lead it first then Joe and I both came to the conclusion that it had a weird finish and were glad to move on. That was my only lead for the day as I ended up top roping all the other routes. Joe led 2 more 5.9s called "April Fools" and "Curmudgeons". I climbed both of those routes after him and ended the day on another 5.9 that went to the same anchor called "Torsades de Pointes" and Joe finished by top roping a 5.10 just to the left of the last two 5.9s we did.
We didn’t know how our muscles would feel the next day but woke up feeling good enough for another full day of climbing. We drove down the road about 3 minutes to the next wall called "Kelly's Wall". Unlike Solstice, this wall is in a small canyon and completely in the shade. Yesterday we were sweating and climbing hard in the desert sun and this day we were belaying in our down jackets. This wall also differed from Solstice as it was completely vertical with some overhang thrown in and made for some getting used to. So after warming up on an unknown 5.8, which we both lead and feeling quite good Joe quickly hopped on our favorite 5.9 of the whole trip called "Topless Vegetables". It was a great combination of the climbing we have done the past few weeks with nice big holds on vertical walls to little tiny holds and back to some slab to finish it off. We both climbed a couple more 5.9s which Joe is now solidly leading. I am still top roping them trying to work on my nerves. Joe also led a great 5.10 which wasn’t super long but had some big bold moves on an overhang wall. He crushed it and we both finished on a super run out 5.8 called "Wet my Whistle".
On our last day of climbing just so happened to be Joe's birthday! We woke up and though we were feeling a little more tired we decided to celebrate with getting the most out of Woodbury road and hitting up Solstice Wall one more time to hop on some routes we hadn’t
climbed a couple of days before. Though we were both fatigued from the past days
excursions we both climbed quite well. Joe finished the day by leading two
5.10s and climbing them both really well. After 3 climbs we decided to head to
the car and call it a day. We drove across the Arizona border and then into
Mesquite, Nevada. The night before we were on the edge of deciding whether or not
we wanted to get a hotel for the night or not but once we had drove into town
the decision was quickly made when we got a super nice room at a casino for
$35. After a shower, laundry, and cake we were probably some of the happiest
people on earth.
|Annual Birthday Photo!|
Leaving the hotel was not an easy thing to do but once we hopped back into the car the feeling was like coming home. We hit the road towards Las Vegas. I had never been and we wanted to stop at a couple of gear stores in town. We arrived and immediately disliked the traffic and smog but enjoyed the gear stores and that evening we parked at an IHOP on the strip and walked all the way down to the Bellagio to enjoy the fountains and lights. Was quite the shock after waking up in the middle of nowhere for so long but was a nice change of scenery for a couple of hours. The city was nice but we were glad to find a camp spot near Red Rocks out in the middle of nowhere for the night.
We are currently in Blue Diamond, Nevada enjoying some Wi-Fi at the local library and a couple of rest days before my friend from Boise flies down to join us for a few days of climbing in Red Rocks. Tons of climbing and George knows how to trad climb and since Red Rocks is mostly just that we are hoping to learn some knew skills plus enjoy some company!