Thursday, October 6, 2011

Smith Rock and City of Rocks

At some point, earlier this year, Peter and I decided to go on a fall vacation for roughly 10-14 days. However, the location(s) of said trip had changed numerous times. At the beginning, we had flirted with fast packing the John Muir trail but that idea was quickly forgotten. Eventually, this trip turned into a climbing extravaganza. The weather in all the places we wanted to go were looking good, but only for days at a time and thus we were left to just head out and chase the sun.

Our first stop was the always beautiful Smith Rock, which located 30 miles north of Bend, OR. If you have never been here, you NEED to put it on the list. Not only is it a world class climbing destination, the running here is awesome. This is our 4th trip here in 4 years, 3 of which were in 2011. Every time I am here, life just feels right. Words can’t describe how amazing this place is. CHECK IT OUT!

On our second time in Smith, at the end of a long climbing day, we ran into 3 guys who were finishing up a run. I started chatting with them about their chosen route for the day as it was clear they had been on a longer run. I was pretty unfamiliar with the place at this point and could not remember what they had said but what I learned from them was that there was more running to be had than what I originally had thought. On our next few trips I have kept my eyes out for possible running routes and have always noticed this rocky undulating ridge (see pic below) to the right of the park, on the north side of the river. Peter and I finally pulled out a map and figured out the link up and ran it the next day.

We finished off the afternoon with a stellar multi-pitch, called Sky Ridge, which gave us all the exposure and views we were looking for. After repelling down 3 pitches of climbing, we stood, simply hanging out at the base of the rappel. There was another couple rapping down and as we stood there chatting, one of them yelled something, which just sounded like noise. It wasn’t until we heard a big loud thump right next to us that we realized they were yelling “ROCK!” That incident really made me think about the risks of this sport (we were wearing helmets!). Had that rock been a little bit more to the right or left, some serious damage could have been inflicted. It’s good to have friendly reminders like that to keep you in check and remind us that were not invincible.

After waking up this morning we decided to head over to City of Rocks, which is near Twin Falls Idaho. The drive along HWY 26, has been beautiful and I wish we could just live like this for a while. So simple.

After many hours of driving, I needed to get out for a run! I needed to shake out the legs from sitting for so long. We parked the car at Boise State University and went for a nice run along the river. I guess a football game had just finished because there were hundreds of people wearing their Blue and Orange Bronco's shirts. It was nice to be outside and I even found myself in the midst of a little race with a local girl. I had passed her early on (on the way out) without too much effort and within minutes I could hear the heavy breath of someone behind me (it was her!). Not wanting to relinquish my position, I increased the pace, wanting to make her work a little harder if she wanted to keep up. This made the rest of the run a little exciting because I now had something to focus on. After a while, the sound of her breathing had seized and I suppose she had fallen back a bit. I had to turn around because I was just doing an out and back and as I went by her in the opposing direction, I gave a wave and a smile and she did the same, thanking me for the push.

We spent the night at the Twin Falls Motel 6 and had a lovely dinner at Applebees. I wasn't expecting much from the menu that had way too many choices for this indecisive soul but I managed to find something that tasted great! The next morning we set off for City of Rocks and a few hours later we were in one of the coolest places I have stepped foot in. Seriously, it's as though someone dropped blobs of rock from the sky into the middle of nowhere for us all to enjoy.

We spent that day climbing at one particular crag. There were heaps of cattle close by and all you could hear were the groans and moans of cows. I found it quite humerus because here we were, in what seemed like the most calm, peaceful, deserted place and the sound of the cows was so powerful. Luckily, not every crag was near cattle and you in fact could climb in peace, however, I embrace all sounds of nature!

We were pretty bang on arriving on a Sunday because all the weekend traffic vanished. Crag's that were littered with people earlier in the day were now without a soul. It was simply splendid. After dinner that night we went and climbed some more at a crag that was no more than a 5 minute walk from our campsite. The approaches to most of the crag's are short.

We climbed a half day the next day as our muscles were a tad sore. We went into town to grab some food, but the selection in the small shops was pretty bleak. If you go there, make sure to grab your own produce before hand because most of the shops just carry the essentials. We also had a great lunch at the local Bar and Grill (forget the name) where pints were only $2.45! The weather was looking pretty ugly and we only made it out for one last climb that day. The wind was pretty intense at times and raindrops were coming and going as Peter lead the way up. At one point, the wind was so strong that it blew off his favourite hat, which he got in a case of Bowen Island beer (I already emailed them, they have no more).

Sadly, it rained all night long and with the weather turning, we headed back to North Van early. I can't wait to come back to this place. I have never seen anything like it. There is something about the simple camping, road trip lifestyle that just works for me. I hate commuting it's true, but when I get to explore and see new roads, cities, and states, it get's me excited and time just seems to fly by. I eat simple foods, which is a nice change because there are so many options when living in the city. While camping, I seem to be able to eat PB&J for lunch everyday and it's delicious every time. But back home, I feel the need to be more creative just because I can. And lastly, the quality time you get to spend with your loved one (or friends) is so valuable. Whether it's simply sitting by a fire or playing a game of travel scrabble, the time spent together is so memorable.

See you in the trails!

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