The story of my life has had a lot of change recently and I am thankful that it also follows good "writing etiquette." I've had to shift between school mode and summer mode, between working hard intellectually to manual labor and working with my hands. It's probably not the biggest change I'll ever have in my life, and I've actually done it every summer thus far since High School. However this particular spring sees the move from college life to life after college. (It has struck me as strange every evening for the past 3 weeks that I don't have homework) Making this change special was the segue of the May Wichita Climbing trip that Alex, Nathan, and I took.
Alex and Nathan both had plans in Texas for the weekend following graduation, but were willing to travel with me up to the Wichitas. We made it to the Visitor Center in the Refuge Monday afternoon, being greeted by high winds and the usual armada of animals. We bought a climbing guide for the area (sounds like we were really prepared, eh?) and drove to the top of Mt. Scott to check out the conditions. We figured it would be pretty wind and weren't disappointed. Thankfully we found a sheltered place out of the wind and bouldered around for a couple of hours, having fun trying different appealing lines and taking some cool photos. Then we drove to Camp Doris, pitched a tent, settled in and had a great dinner of left-over brisket sandwiches.Nathan on the project of the day.
I'll pause in the middle of the climbing report here to talk about the Wildlife Extravaganza. It was really amazing how many different things we saw. Big game: elk, deer, longhorns, and bison. Bugs: lightning bugs, june bugs, a tiny scorpion, and of course the obnoxious mosquito. Creepy-crawlies: a lizard with blue sides, a multi-colored snake, and a big, fat tarantula (not something you see everyday sneaking around your tent, nor do you want to). Then others: rabits, coyotes, geese, bright red birds, and others I probably am forgetting.Just a little bit unsettling...
Then Alex satisfied his "crack habit"leading The Dihedral, rapping off so I could try my hand at a 5.9 extension called the Flying Nun. This route follows the 5.6 but goes another 25 feet higher instead of ending at the rappel station shared with Alice, pulling a rather impressive roof. The crux was pretty heady since the pro wasn't bomber for my liking, especially when I kicked out the highest nut on the first go. Nevertheless I struggled to the top, ticking off my hardest trad lead to date.
We rose early the next day rearing for a solid day of climbing. Our goal was the area known as the Narrows, which Alex and I had explored on a previous trip in January. However, due to the wet conditions we were unable to attempt the super classic routes of the area and we were jones-ing for a second shot. Crazy Alice (5.8) and The Dihedral (5.6) were perfect for our goals of improving our crack skills and traditional lead climbing experience. Thankfully they were dry and all three of us made it to Crazy Alice and rapped off in quick succession. Geared up and ready climb Crazy Alice.
After we all made it up and rappeled back to solid ground, we were still wanting to climb another route with the amount of daylight offered. Choosing Captain Crunch (5.7) we set off around the corner toward the Leaning Tower feature. Once again we were rewarded with a great climb with spectacular views of the whole area: piles of granite left randomly strewn around and the Cache Creek canyon meandering below. Not to mention an airy 120 foot rappel down Leaning Tower Direct. However, anyone attempting either LTD or Capt. Crunch should be prepared for a somewhat sketchy approach. Combined with the wind, it was almost enough to diswade us from climbing the route.
After climbing that morning we drove back to camp and sorted gear, shared some pictures, and had a big group hug. Then we delayed the final Goodbye a little longer by driving together back to Snyder to fill up on gas. The adventure trio parted ways after a solid trip together, wrapping up our college experience at ACU, looking forward to more adventures in the future. Someone mentioned to me in the midst of goodbyes when I graduated High School that I'll stay in touch with very few of my friends from that time in my life, but it's the people I'll meet in College that will remain life-long friends. This prophecy has been very accurate so far and I know that it will remain so, because amigos like Nathan and Alex will not soon be forgotten. With them both going to grad school next year in Wyoming and Colorado, it gives me ample excuses to visit them in the future.