Friday, June 17, 2011

The Mt. Crush-more Chronicles

Call it what you want: chance, fate, God's plan. It's all the same and nothing illustrates it more than loading up your belongings, aiming west, and leaving the comfort zone of routine behind. Which is an odd way to phrase it because nothing makes me more comfortable than the lifestyle of 'two on, one off'. 'Two' being climbing days, of course, and 'one' being a day of rest. But all that gets thrown out the window during travel and I've grown to expect it and learned to roll with it. It's part of the game and a part I thoroughly enjoy. Some would grit their teeth and curse at the traffic jam or mechanic that seems to be keeping them from staying on 'schedule.' But it's all part of the game. It's a lot more fun and a lot better for your blood pressure to submit to chance, fate, God.

Leaving West Virginia via the Silver Bridge, site of the 1967 bridge collapse that killed 46 people.  This event was prophesied by the legendary Mothman.  We looked for Richard Gere before crossing then continued.

You've gathered by now that I'm alluding to our misfortunes , or fortunes, depending on how you view things. The 'plan' was to head straight for Wyoming and set up shop there for a month or so but how much fun would it be if that all went as planned? To be honest, I've never been so excited to get back out on the road. The oppressive heat of Fayetteville was killing me and I hadn't been climbing due to it. I just laid around lazily waiting for someone else to climb something so I could write about it online. Lame. But what I was lacking in level of fitness, I made up for with PSYCH!

The drive was fairly uneventful and smooth. 24 hours of driving over 2 days and some change had us into South Dakota and seeing signs for the Badlands. Elissa and I had never seen the Badlands and thought it would be wise to check it out in case we never made it back this way. The small squeek from under the van had grown to a screech and by the time we pulled into Badlands it was starting to growl in a demand for attention. The Badlands were cool but the National Park Service is a bunch of racist commies and don't let little dogs in out of the car so we just drove on through with a few short hikes.


Then it was on to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota. We checked out Rushmore which was cool and even climbed 2 pitches behind their heads. Well, Elissa did. One pitch of slabby, insecure knob climbing was enough for me. The next day we spent a full day at Spearfish Canyon which is definitely one of America's underappreciated crags. Amazing limestone as good as any I've seen and not a soul around. We got a bunch of pitches in there at two crags under perfect blue skies and perfect temps.

Is this young hippie scum scratching the bugs in his dreadlocks or pondering what he is doing here?  Our founding fathers would be ashamed of our youth.  Note Lincoln's scowl and Jefferson's general snobbery.
Then it was back to the van. The next morning we got a diagnosis from the shop and, as I expected, the same problem I'd had before had returned. Busted carrier bearing. So we ordered the part and headed out for another climbing area. I think what's cool about all this is that none of this was planned. We didn't intend to stop at Spearfish or Mt. Rushmore and we didn't plan to check out the next crag we went to either. Sometimes you have to view these mishaps as blessings in disguise.

Eat a baguette, Frenchie! American limestone is sick.  This is the Indian Wars wall in Spearfish Canyon.
Victoria Canyon, VC as it's known, is probably my favorite sport climbing anywhere. It really is that cool. We drove 4 miles of dirt road across the open grasslands of South Dakota and parked at the edge of a meadow. A short hike through a pine forest took us to the rim of the gorge where we could peer down at the narrow canyon below. I was so excited about what I saw I could barely sleep that night. The next day we were up with the sun at 6:00 and even after a very leisurely morning were hiking in by 8:00. There is no trail through the canyon. It is so narrow that it's easiest to walk down the stream bed which was flowing with crystal clear water. The bottom of the creek is covered in multicolored water-polished rocks. A waterfall occasionally disrupts the hike through the stream and is bypassed by hiking through a lush landscape of fern, moss, wild iris and lady slipper. The rock was equally beautiful. Bullet hard, choss-free limestone that has amazing pockets interspersed with the blocky features found at Rifle. We got a ton of climbing in that day and the absolute joy of climbing got me up two 5.13a's despite my weakened physical state.

Victoria Canyon is gorgeous.  I would never joke about something this serious.

The next morning we got word from the shop that the part was in and we'd be on our way to Wyoming by noon. While waiting in the excellent lounge they offer, Bob the mechanic walked in, "I have bad news." This was the first of three times that Bob would say this but he managed to say it the same way with genuine concern for us each time. Bob is a good mechanic and the folks here at Eddie's Freightliner repair shop are the best of the best. They have gone above and beyond to make us comfortable while we wait even offering us a courtesy vehicle to run around town. Like the bumper sticker says, "I'd rather be climbing," but this isn't too bad.

Max keeps it real despite his busted driveshaft.
I won't bore you with the details of Max's surgical procedure but it has been long and arduous and he requires a transplant. A donor if you will. With no donor available Max needed a new part manufactured at the local steel mill. He will ride again soon and breathe deeply of the steady western-air breeze over his radiator. We've been here two days now and all is well.

Our current location.  Bay 8 and 9 are lower class.  High rollin' at the Oil and Lube bay.

My goal this year is to create a more interactive video blog for my devoted followers (aka. my mom). My limited skill has slowed this process but hopefully it will pick up soon. Due to our chance week-long stay in Rapid City, home of Mt. Rushmore, as well as our desire to crush rigs out here, I have dubbed this vlog " the Mt. Crush-more Chronicles" So far I've only gotten the opening title sequence done but I'm so smitten with the following image that I just have to share it prematurely. Click on the image for the video link.

The Williams Family.  Lifelong residents of Mt. Crush-more. 


robby said...

That's not Jefferson being snobby, that's his look to pick up chicks for the next million years! Good stuff. Watchout for hippies in lander and CRUSH SOME RIGS!

Suburbanwankster said...

Werd. Respect to Richard Gere and the Mothman.

Did you know the sculptor of Rushmore was an active member of the KKK? Is this the kind of action you condone?

Also, why dont you post a photo of the skin covering your upper hamstrings lately???????? We all know it takes a whole bar of soap just to wash your trashy fat legs, Williams!!!!!!