Saturday, December 4, 2010

Goblins, Canyons and Cannonballs

Driving across the middle of the continent is never something you really look forward to. Although I'm a big fan of the wide open expanses of the prairies, it still kind of sucks when they stand between you and your next climbing destination. Whenever we make the journey, we try to find interesting things to see or do on the way to break up the long driving days. Getting from Saint George, Utah to Horse Pens 40 in Alabama took us a leisurely 4 days.

Our first stop was Goblin Valley state park in Utah.

It's a really cool valley full of crazy rock formations.

We spent a morning feeling like little kids running around and climbing them.

We also made our first foray into canyoneering that day. When I first suggested hiking a slot canyon to Kristal she looked at me a little skeptically. It probably didn't help that my description went something like: 'It's like going for a hike and doing some rappelling'. You see, hiking is something we do to get to a climb and rappelling is something we do to get off of a climb. Why we would do the former and latter without actually doing any climbing seemed a little silly. But after some discussion and internet searching it looked like hiking through a slot canyon might be pretty fun.

We hiked the Little Wild Horse Canyon trail, conveniently located Just outside of Gobling Valley. Thankfully Little Wild Horse Canyon is about as technically easy as slot canyons come, rated a mere 1A II on the Canyon Rating System, which means no rappelling and very little in the way of technical obstacles. It's amazing how enjoyable a hike can be when you aren't hauling a full pack of climbing gear and gaining 1500 ft of elevation. It was a super cool hike, the canyon becoming barely wide enough to pass in some sections, weaving through crazy water worn sandstone in others, and involving some fun easy scrambling. Unfortunately my camera battery died so we didn't get any pictures, but there are plenty online.

In Kansas we took a short detour off the interstate to visit what is probably the only climbing 'destination' in the state. Rock City is a collection of unique sandstone balls in a landscape that is otherwise barren of any climbable rock.

Though there isn't really much in the way of hard problems, there are some really fun easy ones, making it a great place to stretch your legs during a long drive. We only spent an hour bouldering there, but could have easily stayed longer it not been so cold.

The rest of the drive was largely uneventful, though I was excited to get a glimpse of the St. Louis arch as we drove past.

We rolled into Horse Pens late in the evening. We were thankful to have the long drive behind us and a few days of bomber climbing conditions ahead of us.

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