Sunday, October 19, 2008

10/18/2008 Moutain Biking to Gold Hill

We've both been doing a lot of work lately. Dave is busy with his two consulting jobs and I've been busy preparing for the upcoming American Society of Criminology (ASC) meetings to be held - in all places - in St. Louis, Missouri this year.

Still we have eeked out some time to get out and play a little in the waning good weather. We soloed the third flat iron early one day this past week (I woke up about 1/3 of the way up it).

Today we decided it was time to get and play some more. We decided to mountain bike up to Gold Hill. It would be my first time mountain biking here.

We left the house on the mountain bikes and headed to Gold Hill. The ride took us through the madhouse of people heading to a Buffs football game (Gack). Then we headed west along Canyon Boulevard turning up 4-mile Canyon.

We headed to Wall Street (a town that looks little like the Wall Street in NYC) and stopped for a snack at an old mining site. The building there looked to have been influenced by Aztecs or something. It is quite a beautiful structure though it is clearly fallen into disrepair.

Wall Street is TINY. I can't even find a listing for it on my favorite city website: Maybe no one actually lives there?? Wall Street is home to the "Assay Museum". According to one source I found, "At the turn of the twentieth century, hard rock mining in Boulder County was in full swing, and the area known as Wall Street played a prominent role in this chapter of our community's history. The assay office was the place where prospectors would take their ore samples to find out whether or not they had potentially "struck it rich." So important was the determination of the assayer that the results of their work could, and often did, make or break a prospector." (see

Shortly after our snack we found a snake attempting suicide by placing himself square in the middle of the road. Dave thwarted his suicide attempt and put him in the grass. We snapped a few photos while he fiercely tried to bite Dave.

We then got onto the Switzerland Trail and made our way to Gold Hill. Here the terrain got rough. My understanding is that this was as easy as a mountain bike trail gets. My kidneys may not survive a harder trail! After some good rattling around, and no crashes (two near-misses though), we approached Gold Hill. Right before getting there, we passed a sign. Something didn't seem quite right about it... After reading it, I finally understood and was very careful to "Watch Childern". Or something.

According to Wikipedia, Gold Hill (elevation 8,300) has a population of 210 (2000 census) and is "perched" on a mountainside above Left Hand Canyon in Boulder County.
Gold Hill was originally a mining camp and it was here where the first major discovery of gold was made during the 1859 Colorado Gold Rush. During the height of the gold rush, it's population grew to about 1,500. It has since "fallen into decline." It has since been revived as a quiet isolated haven, with no paved streets.

We headed into the General Store and had a yummy spinach and feta croissant and a cookie. Then it was all down hill from here. It really was - all downhill. Fast, steep and fun.

Mountain biking seemed more tiring per mile. Though this trip was only 41.2 miles round-trip, it felt more like an 80 road bike trip. We'll be taking the bikes with us to Cochise soon. Should be fun to get in some more miles...

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Henri's new perch and the new parrot travel cages.

The birds may be able to speak English, still they often they have to use creative ways to get their point across to humans. Suddenly, Henri has been asking to sit on top of Grace and Gabbie's cage - on their wooden perch. I put him there, he's happy, then he immediately wants off. Then he wants on the perch, he's happy, and he wants off. We went round and round like this.

It only took two days for me to 'get it.' Henri wanted a wooden perch on top of his cage. I mentioned this to Dave and he headed out to the garage and fashioned a perch. The photo I took is marginal (as usual) so you can't see the nice detail that went into making this perch. It is sweet! Henri hopped right on and LOVES his perch.

We have been busy personalizing the Cougar. Part of this involved getting travel cages for all the parrots. They arrived and look good. The photo is only so-so though. While they are quite a bit smaller than their home "palaces," they will be perfect for the travel. We'll be heading out to Arizona very soon. We'll see how everyone likes them.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

10/13/08 - Don't like the wind? How about some Snow?

We woke up to snow this morning. Not a lot, it wasn't sticking to the ground, but it was snowing. And it was COLD. Thank goodness for the Cougar's heater.

We lolly-gagged a bit waiting for it to heat up. Happily the wind had stopped and we were anxious to get out and climb. But not in freezing weather.

After a while, we opted to head up to the Optimator Wall. Though it would go into the shade a bit after noon, that was okay. We needed to get on the road early in the afternoon anyway.

We hiked up to the wall. The sun was nice, though it was cold (and just got colder as the day progressed). It snowed off and on while climbing as well.

We started on a climb that is not in the book. Dave had done it years before and noted in his guidebook that it was a 5.11-. He also noted it was a 'hands to fingers with double cracks'. It looked fun and so we hopped on it. Dave flew up it as usual. I went next. The crux part was that difficult finger size - my fingers wiggled in the crack but it wasn't big enough to do a finger lock. Mostly all I could do in the crux section was thrutch and fall. I thought this portion was a difficult as the 5.12 we did a couple of days ago personally.

Next, we did a couple of climbs to the right of us. The first, a climb called Neat (5.10, 110') is described in the guidebook as "Technical thin start to splitter hands." Everyone dispensed with this climb pretty handily. Even I got to the top though it was primarily a crack made for big boy hands. The backs of my bony, skinny girl hands are still bruised today from this climb.

To the right of Neat is a climb called Hayduke Lives! (5.10+, 120'). This climb has much of the same big hand size so I just did the lower thinner section and bailed. I suggested I could sit on the ground and bash the back of my hands with a rock to accomplish the same as climbing it would have (heh heh).

Finally, we capped the trip off with a climb to the left of Charlie's Pillar that doesn't appear to be in the guide book. It was short, awkward and funky. Not the best climb at the Creek for sure.

After that, we hiked down the trail and headed to the campsite. Dave and I hitched up and headed out. Though the weather was very marginal for the trip, it was still a blast. It was great seeing friends and super fun spending the maiden voyage of the Cougar at Indian Creek.

Next up: Cochise Arizona! The whole family (people, cat and birds) will go on this one!

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10/12/08 - Day o' Sand-Blasting and Hiking in the Needles

The wind howled during the night. I doubt that the climbers in tents slept much. The wind was so powerful and relentless it kept us awake quite a bit too. Still, I was happy to be in the Cougar and not dealing more closely with the elements.

The wind was so bad that climbing was out of the question. Peggy went into Moab to get some work done and run some errands. Dave and Quinn decided to go hiking in the Needles area. I opted to stay in the trailer to read and relax.

While they were gone, it seemed I experienced a desert hurricane. It blasted so hard that three of our wheel chocks blew out from under the trailer. At one point, a free-range tent blew by. I went out to save this tent by throwing several large rocks into it. Later we met the owners when they came by looking for their lost home in the evening. They had been camped about 250 yards away.

While outside trying to secure the rogue tent, I noticed the companions in Peggy's campsite were losing everything to the winds. I gathered up pots, pans, plates, utensils, stoves, etc. that were scattered all around and tried to secure them. One tent in the group was flattened and wrecked. There was nothing I could do to save it.

When I finally got back in the camper, I was coated with red sand. My teeth were red even. Bleck. I had so much sand in my eyes I could see it when looking in the mirror. And my hair was a huge tangle filled with goat-heads and other desert vegetation. Nasty.

Meanwhile, Quinn and Dave enjoyed their hike in the Needles. According to the web, "[t]he Needles District forms the southeast corner of Canyonlands and was named for the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area. The district’s extensive trail system provides many opportunities for long day hikes..." (see

Some of their hike was in the blasting wind, but much of it seemed to be protected.

The hike ended up being longer than they anticipated though they had a great time and saw many beautiful sites.

One particular formation brought out a mischievous side in both Dave and Quinn. I especially love Quinn's boyish grin in the photo!

When they returned, we all had dinner again then called it a night. We hoped that the weather would be taking a turn for the better.

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10/11/08 - The Fin Wall and the Wind

We got up and were excited to get out for a full day of climbing. We selected the Fin Wall. This wall is just to the left of Broken Tooth. According to Bloom, it offers many "long clean dihedrals" and it's a good warm weather destination.

We drove to the parking lot and headed up. It was warm and wonderful! At least as first. While I belayed Peggy on Walkin' Talkin' Bob (5.10-, 50'), Dave relaxed in the sun. I don't recall noticing the wind - yet.

We then moved over to No Beggin' a 50' 5.9 crack that Peggy lead. By now, the wind was BLASTING. While Peggy was on the climb, her full back pack lifted off the ground and blew about 20'! Luckily Dave caught it before it pitched over a not-to-be-retrieved-cliff edge. Her camelback also took flight and was rescued. The same wasn't true about Peggy's bottle of water. It became airborne and was never seen again even though it had water in it!

Next up was Flight Time. This is a 5.12, 50' long finger crack. Bloom describes it as a "short, but quality splitter finger crack." While belaying Dave on Flight Time, I thought - wow, what a great job! Then I got on it. Holy Moly! How he stayed on at all is a mystery. This is definitely a bigger-fingers crack. Still it was fun working it the bit I did.

Next we hiked over to Fintastic (5.10-, 50'). We all agreed that Fintastic was the best climb of the day. It was really lots of fun.

What wasn't fun any longer was the wind. It was really nasty.

And because of it, we were hesitant to commit to climbing Third World Lover. None of us would decide so we turned to the flip of a rock. If the flat side was up, we were to climb it, if the peaked side was up, we were to head out. We flipped and the rock said: LEAVE! So, of course we stayed to climb it instead.

While Dave was leading this pitch the wind was blasting so hard the sand and small pebbles hitting me were hurting. In addition, I was being blown over. Finally I was squatting with my down jacket on trying to make myself as small as possible.

Meanwhile, Dave was just trying to stay on the wall. He had to sit tight in several spots to avoid being blown off. No joke!

Seeing this, I decided I didn't want to climb, but just to leave asap. Peggy went up and cleaned the pitch and we high-tailed it out of there. The rock tried to warn us but we didn't listen did we?

It was great getting back to the Cougar and out of the wind. By now, the wind was blasting so hard that the entire area had very little visibility. It was just nasty.

Peggy and Quinn both came by and we all had drinks and dinner together. Then we capped off the evening by watching an episode of the Simpsons. Good times!

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10/09/08 - Indian Creek and Broken Tooth Wall

We got up after a much needed night of sleep and enjoyed a warm breakfast in the Cougar. Then we hit the road. We had about 2.5 hours to get to Indian Creek and meet up with our friend Peggy Oki. We'd not seen Peggy since Dave and I met in Joshua Tree. We were all looking forward to seeing her again.

Driving was far less stressful than it had been the night before. Curves were easy, speed was no problem, braking was a breeze. Even when 18-wheelers came by us from the other direction, we could feel nothing. Maybe we were numb!

Driving into Indian Creek is breathtaking. I've only been here once before, the views were as amazing this time as the first time. I found myself taking the same photos that I took last trip!

We were heading to Creekside Pasture to set up our mobile building. Peggy had scoped it out for us and was waiting for us in the spot. Quinn, another friend, was out in Indian Creek climbing with his friend Rick. We found his truck and left him a note as to where to find us when he was done climbing.

We got to Creekside Pasture, set up house then headed out to climb. Peggy and Dave rode in the front and I chose to ride in the back. Our first stop was the Broken Tooth Wall. In Bloom's guide of Indian Creek, Broken Tooth is described as a "small but stellar buttress. Not only does it have nice climbs, but it was also close and the hike up was relatively short. This was important since there wasn't a lot of daylight left.

We managed to get in two pitches: Unnamed (5.11-, 120'. This climb is to the left of Dental Floss Tycoon), and Blue Sky Mining (5.10+, 50').

I climbed the bottom portion of Unnamed. Well, by climbed, I mean I lay-backed it until I was wrecked.

Then I yarded up on the rope for about 90' to the top. What a grueling workout that was (as evidenced by my sore rump then next day).

While I may be the suckiest Indian Creek climber ever (no, I AM the suckiest IC climber ever), I can at least get to the top of any climb. It isn't pretty, but I get to the top.

It was windy. Most of the time that Peggy was climbing, her pigtail was flying up in the air. Little did we know that this would be the least windy day of the trip!

Dave and Peggy both climbed Blue Sky Morning and enjoyed it. I sat this one out. I'd tweaked my days before getting crushed on pitch one of the Naked Edge and my stellar performance on the last one climb had aggravated the injury.

We headed back to the Cougar and enjoyed a nice meal. Peggy, Quinn and Rick all dropped by.

Quinn was enjoying my "Death in Yosemite" book (it is fascinating). We had a fun happy hour and caught up with each other.

The Cougar ROCKS!

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