Three years after pulling up roots and hitting the proverbial road, we find ourselves back in the land of cobbles. Maple Canyon. Utah. Specifically… the Pipedream. Endurance climbing Mecca for geriatric climbers like yours truly. It’s a welcome relief to be in this dry environment after enduring an incredibly precipitous Red River Gorge spring. I suffered 21 tick bites and now the wounds are starting to heal. Several have added small blemishes to my already heavily scarred epidural layer. Lola suffered profoundly from a plethora of various insect bites, ticks inclusive, which are also healing in the dry climate. Maggie suffered too, but not to the same extreme, even though she’s much sweeter then either Lola or me.
Our first few days in the rarefied air caused us to suck hard for oxygen due to a slightly more than 6000’ elevation gain between Maple Canyon and our land in Kentucky. Acclimation will come slowly for us. Our bodies will also need time to adjust to the dryness, since Kentucky in springtime is rich with moisture to the tune of 60-80% humidity. The Ephraim Valley below Maple Canyon suffered from an unusually dry winter which has now segued into an extremely arid spring. Our skin refuses to perspire as we dry-fire off of cobbles right and left in the 10-15% humidity. The nervous habit of chalking exacerbates the slippage. We’ll adapt… hopefully soon.
By random luck, mixed with the power of positive attraction, we stumbled across one of the best camp situations imaginable through a chance encounter a couple of years ago. While climbing in Maple during the summer of 2016, we met a woman named Carol in front of an inoperable laundromat change machine. Since the change machine at the “Live, Laugh, Laundry” (seriously, that’s the name according to the sign) was refusing to distribute coinage, I agreed to trade some greenbacks for two-bit currency at the local bank. While on this noble mission, Maggie and Carol became fast friends. By the time I returned with quarters for all, we had an invite to tour their amazing off-the-grid solar powered home in the nearby Cedar Hills of Sanpete County.
The next day, we drove up the two mile long gravel driveway to their gorgeous adobe style casa del sol. Carol introduced us to her husband Dave and we bonded in milliseconds. Their primary residence is in the Seattle, WA area. This, their desert getaway home, sits high on the northern bench above the Sanpete Valley and is surrounded by 55 acres of pristine sun exposed Utah real-estate. We spent the long summer afternoon touring the property, which includes a Hogan (officially blessed by a Navajo spiritual leader), checked out their massive pole barn, viewed the solar panel setup and shared the brief versions of our life stories.
A major crux to long stays at a busy climbing area housed within our public lands is finding a good base camp. The choices are often slim, and commonly noisy, due to frequent overcrowding of the scarcely available primitive spaces left in a diminishing wilderness area. The adage “you call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye” (Don Henley, The Last Resort, 1976, The Eagles’ Hotel California) seems appropriate here. Being older and somewhat set in my ways, I prefer quiet nights with ample space to relax, piss freely in the open and face the rising of the sun while doing yoga on genuine terra firma. Both Maggie and I prefer a small quiet space to turn mindfully inward whenever possible. A place where we can sleep long and restful to help recover from hard days of pulling on steep stone. We love sipping coffee on quiet mornings without excessive commotion. It allows the aging body to slowly prepare for a brand new lucky-to-be-alive day. We found such a place this year via the generosity of Carol and Dave.
Alexander SuperScamp is cheerfully parked under their “shed house” which is an old, but solidly built, 12’ x 24’ pavilion. Ironically, this is the same dimension of our planned future Kentucky cabin, thus giving us the opportunity to visualize our eventual living, and perhaps someday in the distant future, dying space. The shed house sits a couple hundred yards west of Carol and Dave’s solar home. We have plenty of shade under its gable with additional solar protection provided by the surrounding cedars. We have copious amounts of level terrain to practice yoga whether we chose to soak in the sun or remain cool in the shade. A steady gentle breeze helps to keep things temperate in the rarefied air common to 6000’ of elevation at this latitude. The summer sun rises early above Wasatch Plateau to the east and sets late above the southern end of the Wasatch Mountains to the west. A simple paradise to us, and to Dave and Carol, I’m certain.
Nocturnally we are provided with mild temps perfect for prolonged restful slumber. The nighttime is eerily quiet, requiring some minor adjustment. Abbey’s Desert Solitaire comes to mind. The welcome silence is fractured only by comfortable sounds furnished by natural sources. Coyotes serenade occasionally albeit briefly. Great horned owls hoot boisterously during the predawn hours. Common nighthawks entertain us with aerobatic flight replete with a “booming” dive as they tuck and dive at alarmingly high speed. As the sunrise gently peers through the northeast facing window of Alexander SuperScamp, we observe an industrious family of mountain bluebirds nesting just outside the opening. Deer and Elk are also frequently common to Dave and Carol’s backyard region.
Although the Gravity Chronicles journey is primarily about pushing personal physical limits on gymnastic stone, we find that we are nearly as passionate about random travels leading to discovery of new places, enjoying novel sights and developing fresh friendships. We also embrace occasional visits to old haunts whereby we reconnect with old friends and family members at our leisure while hoping never to wear out our welcome.
By continuing to live in the moment, heading into our fourth year down the road we find that we are happy, healthy, spiritually wealthy and hopefully somewhat wiser. What we lack in actual monetary wealth or material possession, we’ve gained tenfold in the much preferred form of mindful existence. By continuing to share our unusual story, we hope to provide our modest version of inspiration to receptive followers. Please join us by living simply… mindfully… peacefully… blissfully.
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