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Monday, July 23, 2012

Exposing John Q To The Vertical Life Of Crevice Dwellers

The busted Houses For Sale link (a causality of the iWeb/mobile me meltdown) is finally repaired and accepting clicks from "Looky Loos" and anyone seeking meaningful "Change," the non-political kind. You will find the link at the top of the righthand sidebar. There are numerous photos of the two houses we have for sale, as well as prices and descriptions. Now, on to less commercial, more important matters. How about an airy hike/climb/scramble with John Q. up Skyrocket Falls?

Of course Skyrocket Falls was down to a trickle, but given the buckets of Monsoonal moisture dumping every single day since July first, that could change any minute. A thunderstorm up in The Blowout could block the only route with rock strewn rapids... shooting over and down the falls like, well, a "Skyrocket." 

I didn't tell John that this hike was more of a climb; a nervous climber is oft a mistake prone climber. It turned out to be a "stretching exercise for John," but he was up to the task, and never once did he break into tears :)) Now he wants to take borderline acrophob, Wandrin Lloyd, on this "hike" (just a warning, Lloyd... this is worse than Bear Creek's ledge of a trail). 

A Doe, surprised  by two legged beings crashing
her vertical zone.

"You're fine, John... just don't look down!"

As we eased through some, how shall I say it... ass puckering places... I thought how Mrs John Q would not approve of this hike. "Do you have Life Insurance, John?" I probed. He responded with a forced, but nervous laugh, "Haaa... haaa." 

The "trail" to the falls had been completely obliterated in places, from all the rain. There were a couple of drop-off spots where I had to literally kick footsteps back into the slope, supporting half my weight with a planted hiking pole and the other half with a death grip on the exposed root of a dead oakbush. As John filled my marginal footsteps, clinging to the same brittle root, I wished for a rope and imagined a phone call to Mrs Q. 
"Hello? Mrs Q? Hey, ah, well... John took a little spill... ah, nothing serious... and... uh, well, he's going to be good as new, of course... in a few months... uh, but, is there any chance you could fly out and drive him home... like, soon? His body cast doesn't come off till September and he can't work the pedals."

Just a trickle... :))

Given that just the trail to "the climb" was treacherous enough for a new-bee flatlander from Indiana, I considered bagging it half way in. But having finally gained a ledge relatively larger than previous toe-holds, John seemed to shed his tremors. He even took a few photos; I took it as a sign that he might actually be enjoying this adventure. A few steps later we gained the rock falls. 

Water was down to a trickle, so it wasn't a factor like the time Bobbie and I first climbed Skyrocket Falls. This is not a sheer vertical wall ascent, mind you, but it does step up in near vertical increments in several places. One of those places was fitted long ago with rebar rungs, drilled and bolted into the rock. Unfortunately, that was back in the 40's; now they are rusted, loose, and generally unsecured. So I went first... to show him that appearances can be deceiving. With proper handholds, in case of a catastrophic failure, one can actually put most of their weight on those old rungs and gain the next ledge... see? 

Testing the old Rebar Steps
I didn't give John "options" to stop or turn around, just choices on how to keep going... different hand holds, routes, and ways to use the rusted rebar steps without putting all his weight on them. I learned this technique from being a parent... to avoid negative choices give acceptable positive choices... like, "Would you rather have the red thingy or the blue thingy?" My three year old felt empowered, "Hey, I get to choose!" Of course they figure this out by the time they are four, and you must go back to Dr Spock for the next "slight of hand," age appropriate shenanigan. 

Once above the falls, the ascent eases and there is even a rope handrail. I told John not to put too much trust in the rope... to only use it for balance. At the top he found out why when I pointed to a threadbare section rubbed thin by rock. 

Hugging the cliff-face

Tight-Rope ledge walk

John volunteered that this was not a "hike," that this was his first real "climb." He seemed relieved that it was over, standing at the top, and proud... until he asked about the route down. I explained that this was not a loop, that we had to go back the same way we came up. "Oh," he said, no doubt thinking of boyhood rescues from playground jungle gyms, "Isn't going down always harder than coming up?" 
"Not if you don't fall, John."

John Q, standing proudly on the summit of Skyrocket Falls... before he knew he
had to down the same way he came up :((

Through the shaft
Lovely Ouray

Home sweet home... Next year, bring your climbing harness, John :))



  1. Did I see you in the Eiger Sanction long ago? You photos today reminded me of someone.


  2. Oh heavens. I would have been a wreck. Drop offs? Fraying rope? Rusting rebar?

    But absolutely beautiful. Thanks for taking me there in pictures!


  3. i think! i will hang with bobby.on that one

  4. Wow, quite a little hike. Glad you didn't take us on that one!

  5. I must admit, I was a little nervous on this climb but I was also excited at stretching my ability to make it around the next corner. After all, if Mark was doing it, I was trusting he would not let me fall. A couple of times he extended an arm to pull me up to the next footing. What was risky on this climb was the inability to have two points of contact on the ledge. Sometimes I was putting my full weight on my hiking pole and if that slipped, I had no backup. But I did always plant the pole firmly before giving it my weight.
    It was a great adventure, it fun to stare danger in the face and then walk away. Thanks Mark!

  6. You're making me miss Ouray and the vertical. Looks like a fun climb.

    And your houses are beautiful. You guys have really good taste. WIsh I had the cash to buy one or both.

  7. Gumo,
    Darn, I retired to the crevice from Hollywood years ago in order to reclaim my anonymity, and now you've gone and outed me :))

    Well, when you come to Lovely Ouray we'll use ropes and clip in :))

    Gary G.
    That could be a mistake... Bobbie's been known to keep going when I'm ready to turn around...

    Jim and Gayle,
    I have that hike scheduled for an early start on Friday... say, sevenish? We wouldn't want to down climb in all that muddy water water, would we? :))

    John Q,
    You are a gamer... for a geezer :))
    I just wanted you to take a memorable experience back to Indiana, something to flatten those cornfields even more, and make you long for the High Life. I know where you can buy a nice house overlooking Lovely Ouray...

    Spotted Dog,
    Ah, so you miss the "vertical," well, your pool pass awaits, and you know you can watch climbers on "The Wall" from the Hot Section :)). And last week soakers were treated to a big black bear foraging in plain view. Come fall, we'll be trading the "vertical" for red rocks... and maybe even a blue sea :)) Then top it off with a nice winter in Arizona. Ahhhhh.

  8. Good thing I was not in town. If I was there, I would have found a more horizontal hike and joined you later for the celebration of your feat to defy gravity.

  9. Wandrin,
    I wish you were here to cross paths with some great full time RV'ers. Of course, Boonie and john Q you already know Maybe someday :))
    thanks for commenting

  10. Surely a perfect piece of writing! We've book marked it and sent it out to all of my friends since I know they'll be intrigued, thank you very much!

  11. Anon,
    Gosh, thank you for sharing the Box Canyon Blog! I really enjoy hearing when someone shares a post... it makes my time and effort at this "production" worthwhile. Thanks for commenting, too!


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