Grand Canyon to Zion National Park
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After the Hoover Dam we cruised on for a few hours in the rain till we crashed for the night in Williams, AZ. Luck was on our side in the morning as we headed off to check out the Grand Canyon, as the clouds lifted for us for a few hours. This my first visit to the Canyon, and I always hoped it would live up to my expectations…….and it did….it is massive!

Our first view of canyon....pretty impressive!
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Our first view of the canyon….pretty impressive!

Enjoying the views
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Enjoying the views

More of the spectacular scenery
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More of the spectacular scenery

After a few hours of checking out the canyon the rain clouds decided to kick in, but that allowed us to get some some cool shots.

I think it is going to rain!
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I think it is going to rain!

Rain moving through the canyon
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Rain moving through the canyon

The weather that day gave us an impressive desert drive to Zion National Park. There were a lot of low level clouds as we drove through the desert.

Cool views across the dessert
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Cool views across the desert

Groovy mobile in the dessert
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Groovy mobile in the desert

On the way to Zion we stopped off and checked out the Navajo Bridge over the Little Colorado River.

Navajo Bridge
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Navajo Bridge

Little Colorado River......with all the rain....just a bit muddy!
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Little Colorado River……with all the rain….just a bit muddy!

We ended up crashing for the night in the town of Kanab, UT. Which, by the way, is the Hollywood of Utah, because they supposedly filmed a lot of western movies there. We didn’t see much of that, since it rained all night long…..our wettest night so far on this portion of the trip. The next day, the weather turned around for us as we entered Zion National Park. We both agree, Zion has to be one of the top parks we have visited so far…….awesome!! Here is a pic as we just entered the park.

First glimpse of Zion
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First glimpse of Zion

We were able to get a spot at the popular Watchman campground for the night.

Pretty sweet view from our spot....too bad they were booked, and we could only stay here one night
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Pretty sweet view from our spot….too bad they were booked, and we could only stay here one night

Since we had our accommodations sorted for the night we decided to head off for some adventure climbing! On the other side of Zion there is a Canyon called Kolob Canyon, which supposedly has the best sport route in Utah, a climb called Namaste. It is a 14 bolt long, overhanging endurance fest route, my type of climbing! So we decided to check it out. The hike into the canyon and to the climbing wall is about 45 minutes. I loved it, since there was not another soul around…..Cathy on the other hand…..had concerns of mountain lions and rattle snakes! Eh….it’s an adventure! The canyon is gorgeous, and we found the wall with no problems. Here are some pics from the hike and climbing area.

Heading into Kolob Canyon
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Heading into Kolob Canyon

Some of cool views in the Kolob Canyon
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Some cool views in the Kolob Canyon

Further up the canyon
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Further up the canyon

Getting to launch off!
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Getting ready to launch off!

Cathy top-roping a route on the Namste Wall
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Cathy top-roping a route on the Namaste Wall

Working the route Namaste....a bit wet and dirty in a few spots
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Working the route Namaste….an awesome route, but this day it was a bit wet and dirty in a few spots

The next morning we headed off into the heart of Zion to do the famous Angel’s Landing hike. Cathy and I both agreed that this has to be one of our top five hikes we have done on our whole trip. You gain a lot of elevation pretty quickly, so it can be strenuous, but the last .5 mile is over a ridge line that takes you to the summit. They have installed a chain to help people, and with the amount of exposure on the last part, I was really surprised how many people were doing it. Check out the pictures.

Starting up Angel's Landing, you actually summit the peak in the upper right corner of the pic
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Starting up Angel’s Landing, you actually summit the peak in the upper right corner of the pic

Looking down from about a third of the way up
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Looking down from about a third of the way up, you can see the trail on the right side of the pic

The view from the start of the last half mile ridge line hike to the summit
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The view from the start of the last half mile ridge line hike to the summit

Cathy coming across one of the narrow parts
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Cathy coming across one of the narrow parts

It's a long way down!
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It’s a long way down!

This gives a good idea of the ridge line you hike along with the chain
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This gives a good idea of the ridge line you hike along with the chain

Near the summit
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Near the summit

The ultimate reward.....the view from the summit is spectacular!
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The ultimate reward…..the view from the summit is spectacular!

After the hike we grabbed the shuttle bus to the end of the main canyon, and checked out the Narrows. This is one of the most popular hikes in the canyon…….and it was packed! We only hiked up to the start of the Narrows, as you have to walk through a lot of water on the hike, and since there had been a lot of rainfalls recently the water wasn’t looking too appealing!

The start of the Narrows..... anybody up for walking through some muddy water! ;)
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The start of the Narrows….. anybody up for walking through some muddy water! ;)

Cool rock cairn at the start of the hike
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Cool rock cairn at the start of the hike

That night we ended up moving to the South Campground, as the Watchman was all booked up. It was a nice spot where you get visitors at dusk and dawn.

Visitors to our campsite
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Visitors to our campsite

The next morning, we broke down camp and headed back to Kolob Canyon. I wanted to give Namaste another run. Our first time there I discovered while I was climbing it that is was wet in spots, and there was a lot of mud on it from the water and sand mixing in some of the holds. We hiked back into the canyon and I gave it another run……it was dry this time, and the climb went down first go! I ended up doing a few laps in the canyon that day……great endurance training, as everything is overhung. Thanks again to my awesome bride-to-be for the catches!!

My awesome belayer!
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My awesome belayer!

Looking at the route Namaste
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Looking up the route, Namaste

Tick!
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Tick!

We are now making our way further along into Utah…..next stop, Bryce Canyon!

- Jamie

 

Vegas Baby!!
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We arrived into Vegas last Thursday evening. The bad news was that is was hot, and the campground out by Red Rock Canyon is closed this time of year. The good news is, we had accumulated enough Marriott awards points for a really nice room at the Courtyard Marriott for a really cheap price!! After living out of the truck for the past month and a half….I have to admit, it was really nice have a nice hotel room for a few nights!

On Friday we woke early and headed off to do a 6 pitch climb called Frogland. I had done this climb many years ago, and I thought it would be a great first multi-pitch climb in Vegas for Cathy, since most of it goes in the shade by around 10am. The climb was a lot of fun, and we knocked the climbing out in 4.5 hours. Here are a couple of shots from our day.

About to head into the Canyon
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About to head into the Canyon

Cathy coming up the first pitch
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Cathy coming up the first pitch

Cathy finishing up the 2nd pitch
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Cathy finishing up the 2nd pitch

All smiles at the top of the 3rd pitch
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All smiles at the top of the 3rd pitch

Getting ready to finish the last pitch of the Frogland
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Getting ready to finish the last pitch of Frogland

Toping out
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Toping out

Summit photo after an awesome climb, with Vegas off in the distance
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Summit photo after an awesome climb, with Vegas off in the distance

The next day we slept in a little, and then headed off for some sport climbing. I needed to get some laps in, so we headed to the Black Corridor, which is shaded all the time, and knocked out a bunch of climbs in a few hours. On another note…..Cathy also lead her first 5.9 sport climb!! She is really rocking the climbing on this trip.

Happy girl after leading her first 5.9
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Happy girl after leading her first 5.9

Climbing in Black Corridor.....plenty of shade!
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Climbing in Black Corridor…..plenty of shade!

That evening we were able to meet up with an old friend of mine, Brett. We played high school baseball together….way back in the day!! We met up with him and his wife Lizzy, and also got to meet their two year old son Archer (who we predict will be a future climber when he gets older ;-) Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures, but had a great evening hanging out!

The next morning we slept in…..sooooo good! Then after a quick workout, headed off for Hoover Dam. We were able to get a few pics in before the heavens opened up.

Hoover Damn.......it's big!!!
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Hoover Dam…….it’s big!!!

Cathy at Hoover Damn
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Cathy at Hoover Dam……..by the way this was the after picture.

The wind was really blowing, so this was our first attempt at that picture ;-)

This was the before!
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This was the before!

Lake Meade side
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Lake Meade side

It pretty much rained the whole rest of the day. Our first real rain day since…….we think, since New Zealand. We are now just outside the Grand Canyon, and hopefully the weather will hold for us and come good as we make our way into Utah!

- Jamie

Yosemite National Park to Death Valley, CA
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On Monday, August 19th we left from our extended stay in Tahoe for Yosemite National Park.  We spent 2 days driving through Yosemite which is best characterized by its massive granite cliffs among many other things.

Driving the Tioga Road, Yosemite
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Driving the Tioga Road, Yosemite

Teyana Lake, Yosemite
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Teyana Lake, Yosemite

Tenaya Lake climbing area of Yosemite
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Tenaya Lake climbing area of Yosemite

Olmsted Point
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Olmsted Point with Half Dome in the distance

View of Half Dome from Olmsted Point
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View of Half Dome from Olmsted Point

El Cap and Half Dome in the distance while driving the Tioga Pass
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El Cap and Half Dome in the distance while driving the Tioga Road

El Capitan, a 3,300 foot face may be the most popular climbing destination in the world. We stopped off at El Cap a few times to check out the parties climbing the face and also hiked into the base of the most popular route, “The Nose”.

El Capitan
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El Capitan

The base of "The Nose", it will be climbed one day by this boy!
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The base of “The Nose”, it will be climbed one day by this boy!

El Cap and Half Dome in the background
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El Cap and Half Dome in the background

The 4,800 foot Half Dome, Yosemite Valley
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The 4,800 foot Half Dome, Yosemite Valley

We’ve been so lucky all summer as the weather has been amazing.  We’ve had typical mountain summer weather since we left VA and nights have been really cool.  Our lowest temp was 42F back in Bear Tooth Pass!  Well, all that is slowly changing : ( as we’ve made the turn south and out of Oregon we’ve really started to feel the heat.  Yosemite may be our highest temps of the summer so far when it reached 97F here.

It's a hot day in the Valley, 97F!
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It’s a hot day in the Valley, 97F!

Between Yosemite and Death Valley we stopped over at Owens River Gorge to do some climbing.  The Gorge is a steep 10 mile canyon on the upper Owens River in Eastern CA and has evolved into a popular climbing area.  The descent into the gorge was pretty steep and took us about 20 minutes to get into in and out of it.

Starting the descent into the Gorge
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Starting the descent into the Gorge

Gearing up to climb in the Gorge
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Gearing up to climb in the Gorge

From Chocolate to Morphine, Owens River Gorge
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From Chocolate to Morphine, Owens River Gorge

The storms are brewing around Bishop
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The storms are brewing around Bishop

Views around Owens River Gorge
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Views around Owens River Gorge

After Owens River we made our way to Death Valley National Park.  Located in CA and NE, Death Valley contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. It is the hottest and driest place in North America.  Inside the park is Badwater Basin, the 2nd lowest point in the western hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. During our drive through the park, temps topped out at 109F! It was very hot!!

It was even hotter in Death Valley, actually topped out at 109F!
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It was even hotter in Death Valley, actually topped out at 109F!

Beginning our drive through Death Valley
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Beginning our drive through Death Valley

The Devils Golf Course, Death Valley
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The Devils Golf Course, Death Valley

Badwater Basin, 2nd lowest point in Western Hemisphere, 282ft below sea level
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Badwater Basin, 2nd lowest point in Western Hemisphere, 282ft below sea level

Cool rock formation in Death Valley
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Cool rock formation in Death Valley

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley
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Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

So many National Parks in such a short span of time has been overwhelming and exciting. We will definitely return to some of them in the future to spend more time, hike new trails, and get some climbing in on the classic routes.  For now, we’re making our way to Las Vegas and Red Rocks National Conservation Park.

~Cathy

 

 

 

Lake Tahoe
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All good things come to an end and the Oregon Coast was one of those things.  We started to make our way inland into California. However, on the way out we couldn’t resist one more stop for a couple of more pics of the coast.

Fog covering the Ocean in the morning
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Fog covering the Ocean in the morning

Fog clearing
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Fog clearing

Our next stop was a few hours inland at a place called Trinity Aretes. This is a small crag I wanted to get some laps on. It sits near the top of a long drive up this mountain. We spent the afternoon getting some laps on some of the classics before getting back in the car for the long push to Lake Tahoe. Here are couple of pics from the afternoon.

Looking down from the top of the classic climb Goldrush
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Looking down from the top of the classic climb Goldrush

View looking out from the top of the cliff
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View looking out from the top of the cliff

We ended up arriving into Lake Tahoe late…….the latest we had ever arrived to a campsite, so we didn’t see much on the way in, and just crashed for the one night at Camp Shelly, which we had previously booked. Since we had only booked one night we needed to find a place to stay for the next few nights, so the next morning we woke early, and came up with a plan of trying to secure a campsite right away for the next few nights…….not an easy task being prime season! Luck was on our side and we drove into Bayview campground, which is one of the few first come first serve campgrounds and got a site…….our home the past few days!

Bayview Campground...pretty sweet!
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Bayview Campground…pretty sweet!

Cooking up some grub!
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Cooking up some grub…….with bear locker in background!

Since it did not take us long to get a site, we decided to do a little exploring and maybe get a hike in. Here are a couple of pics from around Lake Tahoe……just beautiful!

Checking out Lake Tahoe
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Checking out Lake Tahoe

Emerald bay
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Emerald Bay

We ended up going on a hike to Mt Judah and Donner Peak. It was a pretty cruisy hike with some great pics of the surrounding mountains and lakes.

On the hike up Mount Judah with Donner Lake in the background with
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On the hike up Mt Judah with Donner Lake in the background

Cathy near the summit of Mount Judah
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Cathy near the summit of Mt Judah

Heavenly Ski resort in the background
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Heavenly Ski resort in the background

More of the beautiful scenery on the way up
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More of the beautiful scenery on the way up

The next morning we woke early to tackle one of the classic climbs in the area. The climb is called Bears Reach, and it is located on the crag called Lover’s Leap. This is one of the premier granite climbing areas in the Tahoe area. The climb Bears Reach became super famous from a youtube video of a famous climber called Dan Osmond he attempted the speed record for free soloing this route and got it, in a record time of………4 minutes!!!! For anyone who wants to check it out here is a link to to video….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy3SuhEQHVg

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  Now……what took him 4 minutes, took us just under two hours, but we did it with a rope and gear!! Here are couple shots from the climb.

A look at the East Wall of Lover's Leap
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A look at the East Wall of Lover’s Leap

Looking up at the start of Bears Reach
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Looking up at the start of Bears Reach

Cathy all smiles after pulling the Bears Reach crux
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Cathy all smiles after pulling the Bears Reach crux

Top of pitch two
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Top of pitch two

Cathy topping out on Bears Reach
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Cathy topping out on Bears Reach

All smiles after a great climb!
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All smiles after a great climb!

We also got in one more pitch on a harder mix route. A really cool route……a bit spicy, but cool!

Looking down from out last climb on Lover's Leap
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Looking down from our last climb on Lover’s Leap

It was good we got up early because the cliff face comes into the sun around 1pm. We finished up and got out of there before the heat settled in. The best part of climbing in the area when the heat does come……

You just go to the lake! ;-)
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You just go to the lake! ;-)

The next morning we woke early so I could get another endurance day in. We hit up a cliff called Mayhem Cove which was right down the road form our campsite. The cliff has some cool granite features and I got in a great workout on the climbs. Though the sun started to bake us at 10am!

Mayhem Cove
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Mayhem Cove

Cathy trying to escape the sun while belaying my endurance laps........best fiancé ever!!!!!!
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Cathy trying to escape the sun while belaying my endurance laps……..best fiancé ever!!!!!!

UGH!!!! How many laps was that!!!
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UGH!!!! How many laps was that!!!

We spent the rest of the day checking out the rest of the lake. We drove into the Nevada side…….a little too busy for us around all those casinos! Then came back into the California side. Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous place, but unfortunately, being prime season, it gets a little too busy sometimes and too crowded to get around. We ended up heading to Squaw Valley to check it out. Really cool ski village, and in the near future could be a winter stop for us!

Cathy at Squaw Valley
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Cathy at Squaw Valley

This morning we slept in, and then decided to get a hike in before breakfast. It turns out at the back of our campsite there is a trail that heads to Cascade Falls, so we decided to check it out. The falls weren’t gushing, but there was still some beautiful scenery back there…….and it was only 30 min from our campsite!

One the way to Cascade Falls with Cscade Lake in the background, and Lake Tahoe covered in morning fog
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One the way to Cascade Falls with Cscade Lake in the background, and Lake Tahoe covered in morning fog

Almost to the falls
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Almost to the falls

They weren’t flowing the way we had hoped, but still a awesome view!

Cathy at the falls
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Cathy at the “baby” falls!

Looking out Cascade Lake from near the falls
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Looking out onto Cascade Lake from near the falls

The rest of our day is going to be spent doing the basics of road life……laundry, shopping, errands….blah!  But, the reward is……we are off to Yosemite tomorrow! ;-)

- Jamie

Oregon Coast
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Picking my chin up off the floor became common procedure while cruising south on the Oregon Coast. The scenic Pacific Highway between Astoria in the north and Brookings in the south lived up to our expectations and then some. Many parts of it reminded us of Australia’s south east coast as well as New Zealand’s South Island, imagine that. The Oregon Coast is a hidden gem and the drive on 101 needs to be added to those Bucket List’s you may have or simply for anyone wishing to drive one of the coolest routes in America!  We took 2 full days to drive the Coast resting our heads for just one night at Seal Rocks. We started in Astoria, a small port town famous for one cool house overlooking the Columbia River…..

Goonie House
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Goonie House

None other than the Goonie House, the most classic movie of 1984!

"The Goondocks"
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“The Goondocks”

Also, a must visit in Astoria is the Astoria Column. The column was built to emulate the Eiffel Tower and the purpose of it was to offer locals and visitors a vista point to enjoy the views of the Pacific North West where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Astoria Column
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Astoria Column

Views from the top of the Column
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Views from the top of the Column

Further south from Astoria at Cannon Beach is Haystack Rock, another must see. As it turns out, this rock formation was also from Goonie’s. During the opening scene when the Fratelli’s are fleeing from the police and again at the end of the movie when Mikey is pointing out rocks in the distance. God, we love that movie!

Haystack Rock
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Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock
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Haystack Rock

We continued on south making stops at the road side viewpoints and of course in Tillamook and the cheese factory to sample some very good ice cream. These shots are from the rest of the drive on day one.

DCIM100GOPRO

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DCIM100GOPRO

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We stayed the night at Seal Rock at a campground overlooking the ocean, it was a great spot. We got up early the next morning to get a workout in on the beach.

Seal Rock Beach
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Seal Rock Beach

The tide was so low that we came across some marine life exposed on large rocks.

Marine life on Seal Rock beach
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Marine life on Seal Rock beach

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On day two of our coastal drive we made many stops between Seal Rock and Brookings but took a little extra time at a couple of tourist attractions. First stop was Heceta Heads Lighthouse, said to be the most photographed lighthouse in the United States. The beautiful Inn Keeper’s house, not photographed, is now a bed & breakfast managed by the US Forest Service, looks like an awesome place to crash for the night and from what I’ve read, breakfast is awesome! We of course are on a budget and did not stay there so can’t speak for it personally. Maybe next time.

Heceta Head Lighthouse
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Heceta Head Lighthouse

Views from Heceta Head Lighthouse
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Views from Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse
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Near the Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse
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The view looking out from the Heceta Head Lighthouse

Our last visit on the coast would be Sea Lion Cave, and this is said to be the world’s largest Sea Cave. We took an elevator down to the cave which has a 2 acre floor, a vaulted rock dome and is 125 feet high. Unfortunately, the sea lions were not hanging in the cave at this time of year but we did spot about 40 of them out on the rocky shoreline and in the water.

Entrance to Sea Lion Caves
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Entrance to Sea Lion Caves

Seals sunbathing
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Seals sunbathing

These are some more shots from the remainder of our coastal drive….

Coastal Views
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Coastal Views

DCIM100GOPRO

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DCIM100GOPRO

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It was a true adventure and an unexpected surprise to drive this astonishing coast. We highly recommend it to everyone. We’ve also added Oregon to our list of the many places we would love to live!!

~Cathy

Washington
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Our first impression of the State of Washington……flat and hot!! You wouldn’t think it would be that hot, but I think the first few days we were in the state we just caught it at the worst time. That said, as we moved through the state things started to cool off and we did see some pretty cool stuff. First off, for those who don’t know, as you come in from Idaho, Washington did not have the scenery we expect……the Eastern part is very flat, almost like being in Kansas!

After crossing in from Idaho, this was a first view of the state of Washington....not what we expected!
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After crossing in from Idaho, this was a first view of the state of Washington….not what we expected!

As you move across the state it does get better….a hell of lot better! We made our way to the town of Leavenworth. This little town is known for it’s touristy Bavarian buildings and it’s beautiful canyon. It also has some really good climbing. Unfortunately, as I mentioned it was hot….really hot! We ended up staying at the awesome campground call Tumwater up in the canyon, which is right on the river. The next morning the plan was to wake early to beat the heat and get some climbing in. Well, mother nature had a hell of a night and dumped rain all night long with some severe thunderstorms. By the time we let the rock dry and found the climbs we wanted to do, you felt like you were just melting off the rock! We climbed for a little bit, but we had to just bag it and head down. At least it was not too long of a walk to get in a cool dip/bath! ;-)

Cooling off in the river after feeling like we were going to melt on the rock!
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Cooling off in the Wenetche River after feeling like we were going to melt on the rock!

We decided to skip trying to climb anymore and start pushing more West and South. Our next stop was Mt. Rainier. What an awesome and gorgeous place. A lot of people train to climb some of the big peaks in the world here and once you visit you can see why. It is not some peak you just stroll up in a day. We got some great pics around the peak and did a small hike up to get some closer pics of the peak at Panorama Point.

Waterfall as we were driving up Mt. Rainier
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Waterfall as we were driving up Mt. Rainier

Some of the pretty fields around the base of the mountain
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Some of the pretty fields around the base of the mountain

Cathy on the hike up with the Mt. Rainier looming in the background
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Cathy on the hike up with Mt. Rainier looming in the background

Crossing a snowfield on the way up
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Crossing a snowfield on the way up

This is as far as we went, and it was impressive!
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This is as far as we went, and it was impressive!

Mt. Rainer!
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A lenticular cloud over Mt. Rainer!

Oh yeah…when we stopped to take these pictures, we also had a bite to eat. Just an FYI for anyone visiting the mountain….keep an eye out for these guys!

Marmot.....they will take your food!
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Marmot…..they will take your food!

and they are not people shy!
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and they are not people shy!

A couple of hours further down the road you come to another mountain that has significance in the state of Washington….Mt. St Helens! What an interesting place to see. The mountain erupted back in 1980 with the force of 24 megatons! After 33 years, you can still see the devastation it left behind…..it is impressive to see how powerful mother nature can be!

The eruption
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The eruption

Some of the old trees still remain like ghosts, with the newer smaller trees popping up
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Some of the old dead trees still remain like ghosts, with the newer smaller trees popping up

More of the old......and new
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More of the old……and new

You can still see trees that were flattened by the blast
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You can still see trees that were flattened by the blast

This is Spirit Lake which still has the remains of some of the dead trees
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This is Spirit Lake which still has the remains of some of the dead trees to the right

This is Spirit Lake which still has the remains of some of the dead trees
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Close up of the dead trees in the lake

Unfortunately, we were not able to get a photo of the mountain….it was covered in clouds the whole afternoon we were driving around. Bit a of bummer, but still a very cool place to see and experience!

- Jamie

 

 

 

 

 

Glacier National Park
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It took us a day and a half to get to Glacier National Park. We would have been there sooner, but by the time we reached the city of Missoula the truck was in need of service. Since we got there late, we decided to spend the night and get the service done first thing in the morning. Being one of the bigger places we have gone through lately we opted for the highest class of accommodations! ;-)

Walmart parking lot......high class living...and it is free!
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Walmart parking lot……high class living…and it is free!

We woke the next morning early to be the first ones at the dealership…got to love the West. We arrive at the dealership at 7:25am, turned the keys over to them at 7:40am, and we were out of there by 8:20am!! We were off to Glacier, and after a day and half in the park Cathy and I both agree that the park comes the closest to some of the stuff we experienced on the south island of New Zealand. Here are some of the pictures from our drive through the park on the Road-To-The-Sun road.

One of the first lakes we encountered as we entered the park
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One of the first lakes we encountered as we entered the park

Just a a couple of the many waterfalls in the park
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Just a a couple of the many waterfalls 

Cathy enjoying the view!
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Cathy enjoying the view!

More waterfalls!
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More waterfalls!

More of the gorgeous scenery!
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More of the gorgeous scenery!

and of course....more waterfalls....but hey! with views like this who can complain!
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and of course….more waterfalls….but hey! with views like this who can complain!

As we drove through the park we discovered that all the campground were full….shocker! ;-) BUT! As they say…all good things come to those who wait, we did a little venturing and ended up staying on an indian reservation on Duck Lake just outside the park…..check it out.

About to set up for dinner
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About to set up for dinner

Sunset view over Duck Lake
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Sunset view over Duck Lake

Morning view with Glacier National Park in the distance
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Morning view with Glacier National Park in the distance

The next morning we woke early to head back into the park to do some hiking. Through some recommendations we ventured off to hike the Iceburg Lake Trail, a 10 mile roundtrip hike through a really gorgeous part of the park……and what a reward at the end!

View from the early part of the hike
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View from the early part of the hike

Enjoying the day!
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Enjoying the day!

Our goal in the distance
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Our goal in the distance

Cathy approaching Iceburg Lake
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Cathy approaching Iceburg Lake

Iceburg Lake
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Iceburg Lake

Awesome place to eat lunch!
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Awesome place to eat lunch!

On the way back we had a close encounter with one of the parks many man eating animals…….these guys are trained killers!

Careful....he will take your head right off!!
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Careful….he will take your head right off!! ;-)

This one snuck up on Cathy
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This one snuck up on Cathy

After the hike we started to make our way out of the park, and got one more surprise…..a grizzly cub…luckily from a distance.

Grizzly Cub
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Grizzly Cub

You almost wantt to go pet him.......almost!
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You almost want to go pet him…….almost!

We ended up driving to Eureka for the night, and the next morning got up to get some climbing laps in at Stone Hill right on Lake Koocanusa. (The start of my training for 24HHH….fingers are already sore! ;-)

Hanging next to the lake
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Hanging next to the lake

We ended the day with driving just West of Spokane…..so after Montana, we have very quickly gone through Idaho, and are now in the state of Washington!

- Jamie

Big Sky, Montana
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Big Sky. Montana is the coolest little ski town and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to visit. Our friends Don and Caroline call this beautiful place home during summer and winter. Big Sky is located in southwest Montana and mid way between West yellowstone and Bozeman. We do have plans to move to Denver but after visiting Big Sky we may reconsider!! Or it may just became a new retirement place to dream about and add to the list of places we would love to live, next to Wanaka, New Zealand of course.  Upon our arrival about mid day we had a nice lunch and just hung out and caught up with each other.

Chillin' on the back deck with Don and Caroline
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Chillin’ on the back deck with Don and Caroline

The next morning Don and Jamie made a plan to get out and climb a 3 pitch trad route not too far from the house at Gallatin Tower.

Don working his way up!
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Don working his way up the second pitch!

 

Summit of Gallatin Tower
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Summit of Gallatin Tower

Gallatin Tower
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Don on Gallatin Tower

They returned for lunch and then all 4 of us headed out to a different crag just up the road for some cruisy sport climbing. It wasn’t long before we were baking in the sun and had to head out but not before I ticked off a couple more lead climbs.

Got my gear sorted, ready to lead!
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Got my gear sorted, ready to lead!

Working my lead route, The Hunter, 5.6
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Working my route, The Hunter, 5.6

Afternoon at Red Cliff, Don working Fat F*&% Five, 5.8
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Afternoon at Red Cliff, Don making his way up Fat F*&% Five, 5.8

I shall follow
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I shall follow

Taking a break with Caroline
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Taking a break with Caroline

That evening we decided to eat out at a local joint called the Corral Bar and Grill on highway 191. I think they’re famous for their burgers and beer and they did not disappoint.  Our server attempted to snap a shot of us, not the best pic but worth posting.

Dinner at the Corral
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Dinner at the Corral

Before taking off the next day we made a plan to drive up to the resort and check things out. Jamie was actually here skiing in 2005 with a bunch of friends but a lot has changed and been developed since then.

Don, Caroline and Jamie, Resort Base at Big Sky
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Don, Caroline and Jamie, Resort Base at Big Sky

We rode the chairlift up to the mid peak and got some nice shots.

On our way up the chair lift
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On our way up the chair lift

Top of mid station
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Top of mid station

Lone Peak in the background
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Lone Peak in the background

Jamie and his photo skills
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Jamie and his photo skills

Back down the chair lift!
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Back down the chair lift!

Thank you Don and Caroline for your warm hospitality and great company, it gave us a nice break from the road for a couple days. The sleep number bed and the fancy shower also made it hard to say goodbye!

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Next stop….Glacier National Park.

~Cathy

Beer Tooth Pass and Yellowstone
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We took off from Devils Tower and started making our way further West and North. On the way we made a quick detour to check out the Medicine Wheel, an 80′ diameter wheel like pattern made of stones. This is an ancient Native American construction on top of a mountain in the Big Horns of Wyoming. It was a beautiful 1.5 mile hike to check it out.

On the Hike up to Medicine Mountain
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On the Hike up to Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel
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The Medicine Wheel

From there we ended up spending the night in Red Lodge, MT. Great little town with good breakfast at the Cafe Regis! After breakfast we immediately set out for the scenic drive through Bear Tooth Pass. For those who have never heard of Bear Tooth Pass, it is a must do if you are ever driving out in this neck of the woods. It took us about 3 hours to get through the pass which is about 70 miles from Red Lodge to the North East entrance of Yellowstone, the drive is easily one of the best scenic by-ways in America for the gorgeous scenery…..the pictures just don’t do it justice, but we tried! ;-)

Heading into the Pass
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Heading into the Pass

Part way up the Pass
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Part way up the Pass

About 3/4 up the Pass
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About 3/4 up the Pass, getting colder

Almost at the top, and yes that is snow in the background!
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Almost at the top, and yes that is snow in the background!

 

One of the big views
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One of the big views

On the backside of the pass we came across this beautiful view
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On the backside of the pass we came across this beautiful view

Awesome lake at the end of the pass
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Awesome lake at the end of the pass

The highest peak you reach by car is about 10,300 and the temps dropped from 70 to 42F! The best part after the pass is it dumps right into Yellowstone National Park. We spent the day driving over a 100 miles through the park trying to take in as much as we could. It is such a great place to visit, and there is so much to see…..and once again, our pictures don’t do the place justice, check it out!

Off course they have plenty of Bison....and we got pretty close!
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Of course they have plenty of Bison….and we got pretty close!

Cathy looking for more wildlife in the park
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Cathy looking for more wildlife in the park

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
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The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Enjoying the day!
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Enjoying the day!

Yellowstone River
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Yellowstone River

Some of the thermal activity in the park
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Some of the thermal activity in the park

Cathy enjoying one of the waterfalls in the park
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Cathy enjoying one of the waterfalls in the park

And the day wouldn’t have been complete without seeing one of the major attractions, and it went off just like clockwork!

Old Faithful doing it's thing!
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Old Faithful doing it’s thing!

The great thing about our trip is….you just don’t know where you are going to end up sometimes. By 7pm we were looking for a campground in Yellowstone but we came to one full campground after another, at 7pm on a Friday night it was not a real shocker! We exited the park in Gardiner, MT, and set out to find a place to camp for the night. Everything was full, so we decided to get on down the road a little to try and find another campground, and just as we rounded this corner we came across a National Forest spot right on the Yellowstone River…….and the best part…it was free!! ;-)

In a van....down by the river!! ;-)
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In a van….down by the river!! ;-)

We are now off to Big Sky, MT to visit with friends!

- Jamie

Wyoming, Ten Sleep to Devils Tower
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On Friday, July 26th we arrived in Ten Sleep, WY where we met up with Chris and Jodi, our friends from Denver. Chuck and Ed would be arriving the next day and the 6 of us would spend a long weekend climbing in the Canyon at Ten Sleep.

Ten Sleep Canyon
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Ten Sleep Canyon

So Much Rock! Jamie is in heaven!!
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So Much Rock! Jamie is in heaven!!

All of us at Leah Creek crag
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The Gang at Ten Sleep, WY 

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We spent all day Saturday at Ice Plant crag and Mando Bondo crag, the canyon is steep and the rock is sharp but it was fun checking out a new area. This area in particular has so much potential for new routes to be set and it’s in a sleepy little town with an awesome coffee shop!

Chris, Jodi and Cathy at Ice Plant Crag
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Chris, Jodi and Cathy at Ice Plant Crag

Ice Plant Crag
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Ice Plant Crag

We all camped together at Leah Creek, part of the NFS, so it was cheap and right next to Ten Sleep Creek.

Our camp spot at Ten Sleep
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Our camp spot at Ten Sleep

This was our camp spot at Ten Sleep, fell asleep each night to the babbling brook!!
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This was our camp spot at Ten Sleep, fell asleep each night to the babbling brook!!

We find our own firewood around here
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We find our own firewood around here

And then we split our own firewood! Even if it takes all night!
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And then we split our own firewood! Even if it takes all night!

Sunday we chose Leah Creek crag for the shorter approach and mixed routes of moderate for me and hard for everyone else.

Everyone is busy working the routes!
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Everyone is busy working the routes!

Jamie on Psychoactive Wall
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Jamie on Psychoactive Wall

Ed working it on Psychoactive Wall
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Ed working it on Psychoactive Wall

Chuck considers his next move on Psychoactive Wall
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Chuck considers his next move on Psychoactive Wall

Jamie and I decided our bodies needed a rest day so we took Monday to relax, do laundry and drive into Cody, WY for the famous Buffalo Bill Heritage Center. Chris and Jodi had already been there and raved about it. Now we can say the same. It is a museum worth visiting and you could easily spend half the day walking through it.

Buffalo Bill Monument
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Buffalo Bill Monument

Buffalo Bill Museum, the largest polar bear ever hunted, 1940's
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Buffalo Bill Museum, the largest polar bear ever hunted, 1940′s

Chris and Jodi headed back to Denver and the next morning Chuck, Ed, Jamie and I made our way to Devils Tower, WY. Our plan was to summit the Tower 2 days later. We spent the first day at the tower doing some reconnaissance, scoping out the area and making a plan for the summit climb on Thursday.

IMG_2245

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With Chuck and Ed at the Devils Tower Entrance
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With Chuck and Ed at the Devils Tower Entrance

We got a few routes in on Wednesday at the Assembly Line area to just mess around, feel the rock and prepare for the next day. While at Devils Tower we camped at the Devils Tower Lodge, owned and operated by Frank Sanders, a legend of the area. He’s been climbing for over 40 years and has made over 2000 summits of the Tower, now he is a Guide and offers up his awesome property to climbers and friends. Chuck met him a couple years ago at the Tower and he’s been camping there ever since when he visits.

Jamie cruising up the Tower at Assembly Line area
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Jamie cruising up the Tower at Assembly Line area

Jamie resting at Assembly Line
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Taking a rest at Assembly Line

Chillin' at Frank's
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Chillin’ at Frank’s

A rainy night camping at Frank's, as long as it rains at night and not while we climb!
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A rainy night camping at Frank’s, as long as it rains at night and not while we climb!

We made a plan to summit the Tower in the afternoon based on when the shade would hit the routes we chose. We headed up in 2 parties. Chuck and Ed on Soler and Jamie and I on El Cracko. The climb was a battle, especially since I’m not a crack climber. Even though I had my special gloves on it still kicked my ass!

Watch out El Cracko!
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Watch out El Cracko!

Waiting for the shade to kick in to begin El Cracko, Ed has already started up Soler
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Waiting for the shade to kick in to begin El Cracko, Ed has already started up Soler

Jamie (right) and Ed (left) beginning pitch 1 of our Devils Tower ascent
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Jamie (right) and Ed (left) beginning pitch 1 of our Devils Tower ascent

Chuck and I waiting our turns to head up
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Chuck and I waiting our turns to head up

Here are some shots of the 4 of us making our way up Devils Tower.

Ed working his way up Pitch 2 of Soler
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Ed working his way up Pitch 2 of Soler

HAND JAM!
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HAND JAM!

Chuck and Ed topping out on Soler
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Chuck and Ed topping out on Soler

El Cracko, top of Pitch 2
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El Cracko, top of Pitch 2

After about 4 hours we made it to the summit. Took in the view, shot some photos, refueled on food and began the process to rappel down.

Enjoying the summit finish of Devils Tower
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Enjoying the summit finish of Devils Tower

Chuck and Ed arriving at the summit
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Chuck and Ed arriving at the summit

Victory!
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Victory!

With Chuck and Ed at Rappel station 3
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With Chuck and Ed at Rappel station 3

The Tower casting a shadow out yonder
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The Tower casting a shadow out yonder

After another 2 hours we were at the base and all very proud of our day so it was time for some victory beers back at Frank’s.

After completing the summit climb, we are back down at the base
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After completing the summit climb, we are back down at the base

Devils Tower at Dusk
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Devils Tower at Dusk

We woke up on Friday to some heavy storms and were so glad we chose Thursday to climb and were not shut out by weather. After a huge breakfast we made our separate ways. Chuck and Ed off the the Needles in Mt Rushmore for more climbing and Jamie and I to Yellowstone. We had an awesome week with our friends and look forward to meeting up with them again in September for the 24HHH comp in Arkansas!

~Cathy