Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sand, Blisters, Bikes, Ropes, and Fun

Whenever I get a call from Bob Bills it always means something fun is going to happen. This time it was a weekend in Zion National Park and Moab. My week was complicated by my procrastination, mixed with school work, so lack of sleep and lack of time made me crave a weekend away.

The body's internal clock is really an amazing thing. How do I know what time it is when I am asleep but in the day I have no real grasp on time? Really... I wake up within a minute before my alarm goes off. How? I don't know. 4 a.m. rolled around and I grabbed my pack and rode out to the freeway to meet Bob and his friend Frederico from Chile. We stopped at McDonalds and grabbed some grub. The stuff is amazing... how is it that a breakfast burrito can not really taste like a breakfast burrito and seem totally fake but still taste good? I hopped in the driver seat and let Bob attempt to work as Frederico slept in the back seat. We eventually pulled into Zion and grabbed our permit for Pine Creek.

We met up with Steven Nyman and his fiance Robbin making a group of five. Starting into the canyon we hoped it wouldn't be too cold because we didn't bring wet suits. In a 90 degree day those canyons can be fairly cold thanks to the lack of sun. The flash floods that roll through leave some big amounts of water that require some swimming. The first time you drop into one of the pools it can be surprising.

Before the last two rappels out of the canyon we caught up with a group made up of all 60+ individuals. As we sat enjoying the view we talked with them about how they got into canyoneering. They all took a class together last year and have been taking trips every couple months since. You really have to admire people that still have the drive to try new things continuing the exploration of life at that age. Many fall into a rhythm of monotony doing only that which is expected of an older person.

At certain points in the canyon you just had to stop in awe of the power of time and of the sheer force of nature. Canyon walls towering hundreds of feet high only separated by a few feet, looking like they could only have been hewn by the hand of God. Massive logs pinned high over head between walls during flash floods look to hold the walls apart so they don't close in on you. All of this is missed by those on the highway near by. They drive by not knowing what amazing sights lay within reach.

Finishing the canyon we headed to a little pond with a waterfall for some swimming. We spent a little bit of time washing off and then it was off to Moab where another early morning awaited us. I ended up sleeping almost the whole drive over.

We grabbed the 7:30 a.m. shuttle from Poison Spider bike shop up high into the La Sal mountains. The trail drops over 7000 vertical feet in about 33 miles. Starting in the cold mountain air at 11,200 ft. in the fall aspens and ending down in the red rocks of Moab. The trail was amazing and brutal. My hands fell apart during the ride and were raw by the trail's end. It was an amazing journey through a variety of climates. At one point on the ride I unknowingly came within a few yards of a massive black bear. I didn't see him until he took off running, but when he took off I was a little surprised.

Hanging out after a long ride out side of the Poison Spider Bike Shop


This is where I saw the bear. He was just hanging out right in this area then he took off running.

Up top at 11,200 ft after climbing up 1.000 vertical in a mile, ready for a long decent.

Swimming at the frog ponds.

Pine Creek's last rappel.

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