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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Another Exploratory Hike-a-Bike To The Whitecaps For A Better Look At Little Ass Valley

"In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man...in spite of real sorrows."  Emerson

Okay, so you've had an intermission, a couple of photo-posts with a smattering of words that required little to zero neural synapse. Unfortunately, vacation's over. Time for another episode of our continuing saga-turned-soap opera, "The Old and The Restless" (insert organ music here). 

Previously on The Old and The Restless:
Mark continues to fixate on turning an out-and-back "Beyond Tower Arch" hike into a cross country trek that loops back to camp. 

To further this end, Mark and Bobbie ascended The Whitecaps—those high-rising, vanilla ice cream cone-like formations—in order to provided a raven's eye overlook of the consternating confusion of fins, hoodoos, bobble-heads, and the network of chaotic "Weight Watcher" corridors full of traps that lay in wait beyond Tower Arch (insert organ music).    

The view from a previous Whitecap recon hike revealed an unexpected Big Ass canyon and a walls of seemingly impenetrable  Whitecaps and chasms hat shield from view Mark and Bobbie's previously attained exit point Beyond Tower Arch as seen at in the far left of the above photo, near the base of distant Bobble-heads in a separate "Little Ass Valley."
Mission Statement: For whatever reason, be it curiosity or OCD, Mark was determined to extend a recent Beyond Tower Arch hike—to re-navigate a slender fissure lined with "Wall Street" buttes, "Statue of Liberty" hoodoos, anthropomorphic Bobble-heads, a not-for-acrophobes "Crack," over/around house-size boulders, and various other impediments that would signal "Dead End" to even the dumbest of Geezers—into a cross country Loop Hike, come Hell or high water. It's been too dry to spit lately in the high red desert, leaving scant chance of "high water," which pretty much leaves "The Old and Restless" with "Hell" to pay. 
Bring it!

Meantime, Rv pal Chris, another "Old and Restless" soul, arrives in Camp Klondike and gets dragged into Mark's nightmarish obsession. 
Uh, hey Chris, you up for a little bike and hike recon adventure? 
He takes the bait. The hook is set.

Of course Mark fails to mention the long, low gear grind from valley to whitecap recon...a good 1500 feet of elevation gain, not to mention the push/carry your bike up the "Stairway To Heaven, which in this case translates to the aforementioned "Hell."  As my beloved Ozark Mountain Daredevils sang, "If you want to get to Heaven, you got to raise a little Hell."

Chris, with a  "WTF?"  look on his face  :)
Cranking up endless slabs of slanted sandstone, Mark went into "Motivational Speaker" mode: Hand in there Chris. Just remember, I promise it'll be worth all the blood, sweat and gears. 

During rest breaks Mark explains the whole point of his madness: Bobbie and I need to gain a raven's-eye view of the landscape north of Tower Arch...so we can better assess the probability of pulling off a cross country loop-hike Beyond Tower Arch (insert organ) and, of course, back to camp.

Sweat pouring, eyes stung blind from last night's full pound of pistachios (burp),they overcome the slanted slabs and bikes are stashed at the Arches boundary fence.
It's just a short hike, Bobbie says, which means nothing because she always says that when it going to be a death march. 
But the Whitecaps are otherworldly, Mark reassures.

Chris, on the teetering on the edge if disbelief and Big Ass Valley. 

It's a dead end...a sheer drop into Big Ass Valley. Maybe we can find a way around or over to that other string of Whitecaps,  says Chris

As with the last time Mark and Bobbie were here, standing on the edge of Whitecaps that overlooked Big Ass Valley and a series of Wall Street whitecaps that blocked both their view of, and/or passage to, Little Ass Valley.  

Not one to accept defeat, Chris led the Old and Restless geezer gang on a bouldering exercise...a risky test of the relationship between strength and IQ among the aging. Chris reasoned that that the better the position, the better the view (the sheeple nod in agreement). 

So, following his lead, they clambered closer to Little Ass Valley via a disconnected string of Whitecaps...toward a place from which Mark could evaluate with some degree of assurance the "ifs," "hows,"  and, more importantly, "how far," this cross country trek might turn out to be.

Seat-of-the-pants, Whitecap by Whitecap, they figured out as they went how to overcome the near vertical gaps that separated the string of white knobbed ice cream cones. 

Jump, Bobbie! Kidding...KIDDING!

When "seat-of-the-pants" is not a metaphor...
A few "white knobs" later, they were treated to brilliant bursts of color and, remarkably, given the string of sunny warm days since the last rain, pools of Tinajas. The farther they went, the more into view and focus Little Ass Valley became. This just might work...if they can get back.  

This was truly a huge knob...Shoulda brought the Frisbee!

Getting closer to Little Ass Valley...one more Whitecap ought to do it.

But be careful, pal...

There's got to be a way...

Not that way, Chris...

Alas. The next Whitecap was beyond the group's collective comfort zone...like, way beyond!

They settled, plopped pooped asses down for a lunch of power bars while overlooking Little Ass Valley. Much better! 

Scanning, Mark was able to find the "exit" corridor that had led him and Bobbie to the edge of Little Ass Valley. It didn't look near as little from down there. They followed sandstone "catwalks" that invariably left them "cliffed-out." 

But from their new Whitecap vantage point, Mark discovered that the drainage to Little Ass Valley was separate from the neighboring Big Ass Valley, and that they wouldn't have to deal with the "Big Ass" chaos that comes with "Big Ass" namesakes after all. Too many obstacles...really big obstacles.

Mark could also see that Little Ass Valley appeared hike-able...Just a matter of considerable trial and error route finding.  

Rock Hopper Bobbie

Mission accomplished. 

Time to get down off the Whitecaps...light reflecting like a mirror...and into some shade.

As if they hadn't had enough, Bobbie and Mark opted for the Long Way home via UFO, a trail they had yet to ride. Chris was more than ready for the downhill he had worked so hard for. 
See ya at camp!

UFO...one of Klondike's many singletrack trails

Peace out,
Mark and Bobbie. 
A special thanks to our just-as-curious, Old and Restless friend, Chris 🚲


  1. I'm always relieved to get an email notification of your blog because . . . (huge sigh) you're alive to write about it!!!!

  2. What a great day of exploring. By the end I belonged to that other group “The Old and the Tired” Chris

  3. Gorgeous Photos Of This Beautiful Adventure. Well Done



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