This post is long overdue! We've been a lot of places and met a lot of people since March seventh. As you can surmise from the weather bulletin above, we're in St. George Utah and loving every minute of it. We left Hueco almost two weeks ago, it was time. We said goodbye to the Dude Ranch, our little refuge in the desert for almost two months and headed east to Carlsbad New Mexico. We packed the Scamp as tight as we could, filled up the water tank, and waved Adios to Dr. Foo, Short Bus, T-Bag, and the rest of the desert rats that took up the torch in the march against gravity.
Our first day out of Texas found us at the silent oasis of Sitting Bull Falls, outside of Carlsbad. If you are EVER in the area, it is a must see even if you're not climbing. The geology there has slowly created a series of blue green pools of clear mountain water cascading down a large formation known (and coveted by climbers) as Tufa. Tufa's are the slow depositing of plant material in the calcium rich water and it forms stalactites, stalagmites, and really funky worm like features that make climbing sort of like an episode of a Dr. Seuss story. Day one was perfect, we attacked the rock with reckless abandon trying every climb we saw (staying away from the killer bee nest though). Day two was different.
With a northern exposure the wall never sees sun and the ambient didn't get above 56 that day. It was cold as hell! BJ and I saddled up, lying to each other about how tough we were, and we got a couple of pitches in before we ran back to the camper for Gin and cribbage. Upon realizing the weather wasn't going to improve, BJ headed home to the wife and job, while Lin and I braved the cold and made some phone calls to our friends in Midland Texas. John and Carol pleaded with us to stay for just a few more days, and check out Last Chance Canyon. A small river bed lined with cliffs on either side, Last Chance was fuzzy in my mind. Having visited there years before, I recalled a couple of neat looking walls and some potential, but nothing more tangible than some vertical routes with sharp holds. Thank God we don't always listen to my memory! We became hopelessly lost our first attempt to locate the climbing. It's a long story but let's just say that we found some beautiful country, some cat tracks, and a bizarre tree with no bark and a reddish hue. The joys of travelling.
When we met up with John and Carol, we were ecstatic! Last Chance is a gem among gems. Don't ask me how to get there, I couldn't even begin to recall the maze of dirt roads and miles of barbwire that lead to the tiny little parking lot. We set up shop at the KOA in Carlsbad and laid siege on the canyon for two well fought days. Climbing better than we hoped we would, we sampled a little bit of everything the tiny gorge had to offer. Steep caves with 14 fixed draws like little soldiers marching upside down, dead vertical test pieces with bullet holes for grips, and sweeping waves rising above the mesquite and cactus patches. After a week in Carlsbad (which is a long time in that little hole of a town) we packed it up and headed north to St. George with some stops at the Caverns, the Grand Canyon, and the International UFO Museum.
Today finds us enjoying some well deserved Internet, coffee, and hot showers with couches and lounging laying in waiting. St. George is the final destination on this little excursion in paradise. We'll be here until we make the move to Salt Lake for jobs and "real life" We stopped by the Cathedral and Wailing wall yesterday, two amazing areas south of here. I can already see spending a good chunk of our time there. With better access to the inter-web, we'll be better about posting and updating our trip. If you're on Facebook, check out the video entitled The Dude Ranch 2009. It's rated R for language but portrays our time in Hueco rather accurately. Adios