I recently returned from a climbing trip with my husband, two good friends, and our (combined) four dogs. None of us had climbed at Wild Iris before (gasp!) so we figured it was about time. Here are some photos of the area--it is beautiful. Wyoming has so much space, and the climbing is predominantly limestone with neat fossils, pockets for sticking a toe into, and aspen trees for chasing shade.
After five days of daily climbing, we were in major need of rest days and work was calling, so it was time to come home. Usually as a trip comes to a close, I'm ready to come home to the life I've crafted here- I am a lucky lady. But this time, I struggled. I was emotional and didn't want to leave the part of myself I had rediscovered. Not to mention, the climbing was fantastic...
Upon further reflection, I began to realize why it was so hard for me to leave. These climbing trips connect us to ourselves, to nature, and to each other in unique ways. We car camp, limited to bringing only what is needed and maybe a few "luxury" items (basically food, water, shelter, climbing gear, dog stuff, chocolate!). During the day, we let our curiosity and desire to challenge ourselves guide us as we select routes to try. I've always thought climbing is a great metaphor for life--and sometimes there are strong, solid days, and sometimes there are weak days that make me feel defeated. Regardless, a day of climbing is always worth it, and after a satisfying day by the rocks, we walk back to camp, and talk and laugh around a campfire (hoping Waffles the grizzly bear doesn't join). When our bodies tell us it's time for sleep, we make our way into our Subaru with seats folded down, then wake up with the sun and do it all over again. At the crag, we meet other climbers who gift us with beta, good stories, and the sharing of gear (the climbing community is, more often than not, very embracing!). A final note, there was no reliable cell phone service, so my phone stayed off or in airplane mode. There's a simplicity to all of this that is deeply fulfilling.
Now that I am home, I'm trying to remember the lessons our trip to Wild Iris taught me, and reminding myself that there is a season for play, a season for work, and a season for rest days. Nature shows us this all year long!
To celebrate the winter solstice, I asked a couple of friends to hike Cervidae Peak with me. It's notoriously steep and it's also one of four peaks in the "grand slam" group that Tom Lopez came up with to help train for Idaho's 12ers. It's been on my list for a while so I was eager to give it a try. It took us several hours but that includes a 45 minute detour because my friend's dog ran after a deer and didn't want to come back (I found her eventually!).
Anyway, here are some pictures. It was beautiful and it's a great way to stretch your legs, pretty close to town. Just remember... it is steep!
I had to stay in town this weekend, so I figured I'd explore an area close to Boise that I hadn't explored before: JUMP CREEK CANYON! I've heard good things about this place for my entire life, but I really haven't spent much time in the Snake River Canyon area. So, about 60-70 minutes of a drive later, we were there. Directions can be found here: http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/owyhee/recreation_sites_/Jump_Creek.html.
So, first we hiked up above the waterfall. There are trails that lead you to the north for a nice view of the falls and the striking canyons. I suggest doing this first--that way suspense builds like it did for us.
Here are some more photos from the hike above the falls:
After our adventure above, we ventured down to the creek that flows out from the waterfall.
And then, finally, to the waterfall:
Overall, I was very impressed with the hike. The falls are really easy to get to--took us less than 10 minutes once we actually headed towards them from the parking lot. I read that it's only a quarter of a mile (sounds about right). This is an easy day trip from Boise and I highly recommend it! Just try to pick up some trash while you're there! It's important to care for nature when we go into nature for our own benefits- a win win.
To conclude, I wanted to share some words of wisdom that I found on the way through Marsing:
Happy trails--and stay clean. :)
22 August 2009: Reached the top of Idaho! Mount Borah's summit!
Trip Stats: 12,662 feet above sea level
7 miles round trip
5,200 feet elevation gain
4 hours, 20 minutes to summit
3 hours, 40 minutes to descend
My friends and I hit the trailhead at 6:17 AM, after about 6 hours of sleep and some burnt pancakes. First hour was ROUGH, due to lack of sleep, and just not used to being up so early! We were hiking with minimal light, (enough to see the ground and rocks, etc., but we were in the trees so we couldn't really see our progress). Trail was good at this point; well-defined, not too rocky, (although still very steep), and you could usually go side by side, as opposed to later when it was definitely single-track. Seeing a few remaining stars as we started the ascent was some greatly appreciated motivation.
After 1 hour and 20 minutes, we reached the tree line, and were feeling much better. Talked to some interesting people up at the treeline. "Altimeter guy" gave us some quick stats about elevation. "Bum knee guy" was a great guy who genuinely loved hiking, despite his "bum knee" (evidenced by a knee brace and discussion). He had no intention to summit; he was just there to enjoy the mountain. We carried on, going up what was probably the least-steep section of the climb. Don't get me wrong- it was still very steep! The trail got a little less defined, but still easy to see. No trees left, just some sagebrush. The sun rose from behind the mountain, so the shadow down below in the valley was absolutely beautiful- one of the prettiest sights on the trip.
hicken Out Ridge finally showed itself. At first, we weren't sure we were on it. I can understand why so many people chicken out. In order to cross, you SHOULD have a healthy respect and fear of the ridge, because any mistake you make could very well be your last mistake. I had an appropriate level of fear and respect for the ridge, (which was supposedly about a quarter of a mile long), but I never once felt my life was in danger, or that I shouldn't be there. Adrenaline and endorphins, paired with careful hand and foot placement, carried me through until the end of the ridge, where we crossed a few inches of snow. We hopped across easily. Now, I always heard from people who are "in the know" that you should stay high on the ridge even if you are tempted not to, so we stayed high. I'm glad we did, because those who didn't struggled a lot more than we did, and we beat them across. I kept telling the girls and myself to make sure they have at LEAST 2 good hand/foot holds at ALL TIMES, and to go slow and steady, always making sure to be completely comfortable before moving. And we made it! I decided later that aside from the summit, Chicken Out Ridge was my favorite part of the journey.
We rested for a little bit before the last uphill stretch. The last push to the summit was about 1,100 feet and took us... maybe an hour? It was harder than it looked. It was very steep and the rock was poor quality. It slipped from under our feet regularly. This section was definitely a feet AND hands section. The lack of oxygen was apparent, but not as bad as I anticipated. I was feeling amazing, honestly. I thought I would've felt a lot more tired at this point, especially given the elevation.
About 10 feet from the top, we joined hands and walked to the summit together. We made it! We sat up there for about half an hour, enjoying the views of various mountain ranges around us. We signed the notebook- Borah's own visitor's registry. I was incredibly proud to be among those people who summitted. It was a little hazy up there, but you could still see the Sawtooths and all the way into Montana.
We recorded a video, ate, hydrated, and enjoyed. It was pretty windy at the top, so we were ready to descend after half an hour. The descent... ah, the descent. Trekking poles were so helpful, but still, the descent lived up to its reputation of being the worst part! It was so tedious and it seemed to never end. My knees wanted to be done with all of that agony! The rocks weren't sturdy. I wished so badly that I could just jog down, but that would be very dangerous. So, it took us 3 hours and 40 minutes to get down. That means a total of 8 hours hiking in one day- not too shabby. :)
The next day, I was sore, achy, and in denial! Reaching the summit of Idaho's tallest has been a goal of mine for over a year, and to finally have achieved it is possibly indescribable, but I will try. I have spent hours and hours planning, organizing, dreaming, fearing, wondering, researching, and discussing this feat. Now it is all over and done with. I am almost let down, because there is nothing higher in Idaho! But that won't stop me from enjoying every other adventure I have, because any time in nature is good time. Besides, there are other, taller mountains in other states that I have yet to conquer. It amazes me how much climbing Borah has changed my perspective on life. I have a love/hate relationship with climbing Borah, and other mountains in general. There were times I questioned why I was even attemping this, when I felt sick and fatigued. But outweighing those times were the extreme highs I felt. Beginning the ascent when a few stars had yet to disappear from the night sky, being halfway up the mountain as the sun casted Borah's shadow thousands of feet below us in the valley, and finally summitting while holding back tears of joy and holding the hands of two of my best friends... all of it was addicting. I am hooked, and already dreaming and contemplating my next ascent... but when, and where? So many options. Life has so much to offer... and I'm soaking it up as best I can!