Springtime in the West


The month and a half or so since my last post has been a valuable period of transition, learning and wayfinding. Work on the ranch had become monotonous and I was looking forward to some more travel and new experiences, and while I didn’t head out on any big adventures during this time, new experiences and surroundings came along to fill my time in welcome ways.

The ranch, a peaceful and quiet place to have as a base of operations, soon began to fill with new faces as new projects began to get rolling for the spring. Kids my age came onboard to start a farm and chicken-raising project and soon there was a small community of friends working together on new projects. In addition to being able to work alongside new friends on fun projects, I took some time to travel around the Front Range to visit friends and head out on some solo adventures I felt like I was yearning for, finding beautiful weather in which to bike, hike, camp and climb.

The past weeks, while not filled with bigger travels around the area, have proven to teach me plenty, and lessons that should come to serve me well in the coming weeks and months. Rock climbing, a sport to which I’ve always felt inclined but not exposed, has become a central focus of my free time recently. Weekend day trips have shown me how much there is to learn to become a competent and self-reliant climber, and beginning a learning curve of technique and safety for something that already feels natural physically has been both humbling and satisfying.

These weeks have passed quickly and with the feeling of spring in the air, with new projects to work on at the ranch and fun adventures to fill my free time, summer feels like its quickly approaching. In brainstorming ways to spend the coming months, some friends suggested I look into Conservation Corps around Colorado, teams of young people that work on week long camping trips in the backcountry maintaining trails and doing wilderness preservation work. As far as work opportunities go, this seemed about as close to getting paid to have fun as the river guide job. However, as I learned that they were looking for a six month commitment starting late in the spring, it quickly became apparent that even for a job like this one, a summer of freedom and adventure might not be worth giving up even for the best of jobs.

As soon as my thinking began to lean away from work with the conservation corps, plans began to materialize with little of my own input and soon the spring and summer again looked like the blank canvas for which this trip was inspired.

A friend from work, another climber and mountain biker, mentioned the she and friends were heading down to a climbing spot outside Moab, Utah, one that has become well known for its sandstone cracks. Climbing friends each spoke of Indian Creek and its world-class crack climbing with reverence, and after I decided that my friend’s offer was genuine and not just polite, it seemed that this was might be the opportunity for me to break my comfortable routine on the Front Range and begin to make the most of spring in the west, and more specifically the desert, not to mention taking my climbing to the next level.

Upon deciding that work for the conservation corps might not be for me this time around, another friend mentioned that he had taken off the month of June to paddle white water in Idaho and that I should probably (definitely) join. In a matter of days, the comfortable rhythm I’d gotten into over the past four months, the places and people that had become familiar and friendly, began to show its readiness to give way to a spring and summer yet unscripted but bound inevitably for adventure for which I’ve known I’ve been longing—for months, if not years—but could hardly envision before now. I’ve never felt more ready.

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Controlled burn at the ranch to ready fields for farming.

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Made a trip down to Great Sand Dunes National Park in the San Luis Valley

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Kindof a surreal place to find in Colorado

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The San Luis Valley is a bit mind-boggling in its scale.

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Found myself in a beautiful place with new friends and couldn't have been happier.

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Climbing at Vedauwoo in Wyoming.

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Kranzley got this shot of me while he was belaying (I did a little bit of editing).

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A view from the wall in the Poudre Canyon near Fort Collins.

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Someone climbing The Chamber wall at the Palace in the Poudre.

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We climbed the center spire, the Citadel.