Saturday, June 30, 2007

Day 1


What a first day!
We left Massachusetts, but not before taking a pic of this sign:

Hopefully we'll see the sister sign in South Dakota in a few days.

Into New York... The AAA book said Schoharie Crossing in Fort Hunter had a nice nature trail, so we stopped there. Off the highway we passed by a huge Target distribution center -- no wonder we see so many Target trucks on I-90, Laurel counted 9 today! Across from Target was a neat rainbow house.

At Schoharie we took the towpath trail for about 2.5 miles out to a picnic area. Passed two old locks on the "Enlarged Erie Canal". Saw a red-winged blackbird and some "least sandpipers" (peeps). Heard the froggies in the canal. Saw some goats at a farm. Part of the trail is called the Woodchuck Walk, but thankfully we didn't see any of those evil beasts.

We ate our lunch sitting on a dock on the Mohawk River. On the way back we walked and ran on the bike trail. It was a good excursion.

Back on the thruway... at a rest area we saw an antique truck and camper. Further along the road there was some light rain. Interesting clouds, nice rainbow. Laurel was worried about camping in the rain but there were no clouds off to the right (north) where we were headed.

We drove for about 500 miles today. Played the license plate game, saw plates from 30 different states/provinces, one was "JJS CAR".

Got to the KOA campground, set up our tent, made mac & cheese & baked beans for dinner, then took off for Goat Island to see the falls. On the way out we saw the "Power Vista" power plant, operated by the "Power Authority of New York".

There was a sidewalk that led down to the horseshoe falls, it was amazing that you could just jump over a 3-foot railing if you wanted to, right into the river right at the falls.

We got very wet on the Cave of the Winds tour. Real wet. Dan didn't wear his rainjacket hood. See?

There was one landing that was directly under one of the Bridal Falls, so water is thunderously pounding down on you. They call it the hurricane deck. Some of the walkways get torn down every fall and rebuilt in the spring.

After that we got ice cream and then went back to the campsite

Tomorrow morning we get a pancake breakfast. We'll spend the day in Niagara. There are some fancy fireworks over the falls at 10pm (if we decide to stick around that long). July 1 is Canada Day so it should be interesting.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ready to go


The Escape is packed...

And the Roofbag is on...

Now would be a good time to explain the history of this adventure. Five years ago Laurel and I were in Boulder for our honeymoon. We were rock climbing noobs back then. We swore that within five years we would climb a Flatiron.

Last summer we realized our time was almost up to meet that goal. We talked about going back to Colorado for our 5-year anniversary. Laurel's dad suggested we make it a long road trip, and offered us his Escape. At the time it was "just" a 4-week vacation. But things were busy at work so I got to roll extra vacation time over to this year, and voila! 4 weeks turns into 6.

Without the vision and generosity of Laurel's dad this trip would not be the same. While we have his Escape all summer, he's stuck driving our Echo to the train station or into the city. That great roof bag was a gift from him as well. Thanks Jim!

Dan Got a Hair Cut!

Believe it or not, Dan is now pony-tail-less. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stupid FCC

The radios operate on the GMRS and FRS frequencies. The FCC requires a license to use GMRS. An $85 license. And they want my social security number. Well, I'm with Eric Idle on this one.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Friends and stuff

Tom and Jenn got married on Saturday! Congratulations to them! Tom gave me a very nice engraved Leatherman, I'll definitely take it on our trip.

Our friend Brian is heading out west too! Hopefully we'll meet up with him somewhere along the way.

JJ (my soon-to-be brother-in-law) said we could host pictures from our blog at his site. What a guy!

Laurel and I did a little dancing at Tom's wedding. Some would say I did as little as possible. We'll call the conga line (and 12oz curls) our "exercise o' the day". For the record, I think it's not fun to stay at the YMCA.

Mom & Dad gave me walkie-talkies as an early b'day present, they'll be great for comm between belay stations on long pitches where we're out of earshot.

We pretty much took care of our shopping list on Thursday, our rack is now 4lbs heavier (ugh). The #4 Camalot and #11 Hex are ridiculous.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Shopping list

The Devils Tower climbing handbook came in the mail yesterday! I read through all the intro material and studied the topos for Durrance. I'm ready!

Sorry, the rest of this post is just a boring shopping list and some notes.

Some things we need to get (or think about anyway)
  • A few more shoulder length slings. Not sure about those Dyneema slings (all we could find at EMS), but I guess we've got enough "normal" slings that they'd be OK. We'll see what REI carries.
  • ... and 'biners to go with those slings. Would be nice to get more BD ovalwires, but we'll take what we can get. If we just get regular ovals or D's, we can use those to rack our cams so we have the ovalwires for slings.
  • #4 Camalot (will want this for Devils Tower)
  • More Tricams maybe? -- #2.5, #3, and #4 (I think that bluish one we have is a #2)
  • More Hexes maybe? -- just noticed we have #6-8, so there's still #9-11 in the bigger sizes. I think Yvin's got a spare #10 for us if we see him before we leave.
  • The Devils Tower guidebook suggests (in general) a double set of cams up to 3". For the route we're doing I think we can get away with tricams and hexes to double up on mid-sized gear, especially after reading some of these trip reports.
Other things to think about...
  • Time to get a new rope? The blue one is fine but the other 60m we have is 5 years old and dirty. And 11mm. It would be nice to get a 9mm maybe to cut down on weight. A rope that changes weave patterns halfway through would be nice! Expensive though...
  • With two ropes, the leader could trail one or use them as half/double ropes. That could be interesting... maybe ease some rope drag if we can figure out how to make it work well. Belaying gets harder.
  • Jerry at work mentioned Vedauwoo... should check it out. Maybe the Needles in SD too?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Devils Tower

Devils TowerOne of the stops we want to make is Devils Tower in WY. Up until tonight I thought we'd just hike around. Laurel mentioned a few times that maybe we could climb it. Well, after looking at these pics I definitely want to climb it! The easiest route on the tower is Durrance (5.6), so we better not get off route.

Speaking of WY, I wonder if we can visit CCH in Laramie and get our Aliens tested. That could be a fun field trip.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Plan

Well, it's 16 days till departure. We're leaving Saturday, June 30th and taking 10 days to drive out to Boulder, CO to do lots of climbing and hiking. We're hoping to see Niagara Falls, Detriot, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul (yes, I'm going to make Dan go to the Mall of America!), Mt. Rushmore, and Devils Tower.

From July 10th-24th we'll be staying at the Boulder Mountain Lodge in Boulder Canyon. We spent a good deal of our honeymoon there 5 years ago so it will be fun to be back. Once in Boulder we're going to climb the Flatirons and lots of other rock. We're then hoping to visit Colorado Springs before heading out towards Aspen to hike Mt. Elbert, CO's highest peak at 14,443 ft. From there it's on to Salt Lake City for some multipitch sport climbing.

We need to be back in MA by August 12th, so we'll probably start heading home on August 5th. We plan to go through Kansas, St. Louis, the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, and Hershey Park.

If you have any sight-seeing recommendations please let us know!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Weekend update

Climbing at the Gunks was great this weekend. Saturday was hot and sunny. Sunday started and ended with a light mist but was dry the rest of the day, overcast and a little cooler.

We started Saturday with RMC (5.5-) and had lunch at the top. There were a few parties below us. We sat for a while on the edge of the cliff in the shade of our anchor tree watching the climbers and vultures. As we lowered our rope to rappel, Pauly Shore started to lead up so we waited and got to do a nice long two-rope rappel.

Next we headed over to Easy Overhang (5.2) and Laurel led the first pitch. It was a fun climb.

Last climb of the day was Sixish (5.4+). After leading the first pitch I understood why it wasn't called Fourish. Maybe I did a variation. It was getting late and another party was rappelling above us so we called it a night. At the base we got to check out their Link Cam -- very cool.

Dinner at the Mountain Brauhouse was delicious. We got to bed earlyish since Sunday we were meeting Yvin at 7ish. He's more dedicated to (crazier about) climbing than we are -- he left his house at 3am to meet us that morning!

Laurel led the first pitch of Betty (5.3), Yvin and I followed. By the time Laurel cleaned the second pitch she was literally climbing through a cloud! Very surreal and a little wet.

We all climbed the first two pitches of Jackie (5.6) and rapped off so Laurel could visit her brother in CT. Climbing with three people was a lot of fun, luckily we had huge belay ledges on the climbs we did.

It was time to get Yvin a more challenging lead. Classic (5.7) was nearby and available. He led the 5.7 pitch then I led the 5.4 pitch.

After that Yvin asked if I had heard of High Exposure (5.6+). I had just read an article in AMC Outdoors about it and so had he, and we were both excited to tick it off. The guidebook describes it as THE classic Gunks 5.6, so we headed down to the undercliff road for the 15 minute walk over.

We started the climb sometime before 5. The book suggested leading the first pitch (120') as two pitches or with double ropes to avoid rope drag. The drag didn't seem bad so I kept going. Misinterpreting the beta I got on the ground, I traversed and diagonalled up the face earlier than I should have. The pro was thin and the rock was lichen-covered -- it occurred to me later that when you're on the most popular climb in the area and there's lichen on the rock, you must be off route. But on the other hand, the pictures in the guidebook show the diagonal early like I did it, so maybe I was right on. By the time I set up a belay anchor there was so much drag I used a prusik to haul the rope up.

Yvin heroically led the second pitch which had a few very exciting moves. It may be a while until I lead that pitch but I'm looking forward to it. With only one rope it was a three rope rappel. Back on the ground we straightened out our gear, packed up and headed out. It started misting again on our hike down the talus. Once on the undercliff road Yvin checked his watch -- I didn't believe him when he said it was 20 to 9! Ooops, so much for getting home by 9!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Gunks weekend

Not a very good week for training... working too much. I walked around the pond with Tom on Wednesday.

My dad's buddy Wes mailed us his copy of AMC Outdoors since there's an article in it about classic climbs in New England. I flipped through quickly last night, will have to read more this weekend. There are some serious cliffs in NH, 600-800 foot walls!!

We're heading out to the Gunks tonight. They got an inch of rain on Monday and might get some today, but hopefully it will be dry tomorrow and Sunday. Can't be any worse than the first time we climbed there -- it had rained 3 inches the day before! John may join us if he's not tethered to his job and Yvin's going to meet us at the cliff early Sunday morning. Should be a fun time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Monday, Tuesday

Laurel was in Cape Cod on Monday for a field trip and I worked late, so no training on Monday. We made up for it on Tuesday -- she walked and ran on the beach in the morning, I took a quick hike up Mt. Raytheon after lunch. In the evening we roller bladed 9 miles on the bike trail -- from Dairy Joy to the Hudson St. crossing in Marlborough and back. Took us 52 minutes total: 32 minutes out (mostly uphill), 20 back (downhill).

Sunday, June 3, 2007


We hiked up and around Mt. Watatic today. About 6 miles in 3 hours. This is the first part of the Midstate trail, which follows the Wapack trail from the NH border heading south.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


It's June 2nd... we leave 4 weeks from today. Are we ready? Maybe. We have been training, but is it enough? Some of what we've done in the past two months:

Lead climbing, top roping, and bouldering
@ Boston Rock Gym
@ College Rock
@ Crow Hill
@ Quincy Quarries
@ The Gunks
(between the two of us I think we led over 15 pitches last month)

Hiking (with 20-40 lbs in our packs of course)
@ Purgatory Chasm
@ Quincy Quarries
@ College Rock
@ Wachusett Mountain
@ Mt. Monadnock
@ the Blue Hills Reservation, from Houghton Pond to Buck Hill and back
@ work, up and down Mt. Raytheon
@ home, up and down the stairs (rainy day hike)
@ home, to Sarah and Craig's house in Hudson and back
@ The Gunks, from The Trapps to Skytop and back

Running, walking, biking, roller blading, swimming, mowing (hey, it's exercise)

Sit ups, push ups, pull ups, hanging on slopers on the hangboard