We woke up at six to get an early start to climbing. I have to admit I tried to get Scott to leave the climbing equipment in Illinois since we were limited on space and it has been quite a few years since we have climbed. I’m pretty sure we haven’t climbed since Alaska three years ago. In a rare moment I am glad he didn’t listen to me. We had a great day. We had about a ten minute hike to get to Rope De Dope, a top-roping area perfect for the wee ones and the slightly rusty parents.
We ate breakfast and were hiking the trail to the climb by 7:30. The trail was still very shaded and cool at that time. In fact Cody kept on his jacket until almost 11. Brooke had been itching to get climbing ever since we arrived last night. However, when she was offered the first climb she ran away. So… I took the first attempt. The route we first tried was part 5.8 and part 5.10. I tried climbing the flakes more which were 5.10. Scott headed to the chimney which was a 5.8. I of course did not know this when I did my first attempt. This could explain why Scott scurried to the top on his first attempt. (Well, it might also have something to do with his incredibly strong calf muscles and lean length…)
Brooke took most of the pictures for the day because when Scott climbed I was on belay and when I climbed Scott was on belay. The picture above and to the left is what produced great confidence in Scott when putting me on belay. I was just checking things over twice since it had been a while. Scott pulled his Grigri (we think we spelled that correctly) out just to make things easier for belaying. It helps lock the rope in place and gives one more bit of assurance. Like I would ever drop him (well, at least not on purpose)…
Brooke practiced slow and steady for the first few climbs and then she zipped up a rope set up by a group from Adventure Trek. The teenagers were in awe. The Adventure Trek group had taken over the Rope De Dope top rope routes, but they were super friendly and quite entertaining. They made me miss my middle schoolers.
The above picture on the left is Cody showing us a stick he found in the shape of a Y. He is really excited about letters lately. Cody resisted our offers to climb at first. Then Scott somehow eased him into the harness and Brooke was more than happy to get the helmet on his head. He liked dipping his hands into the chalk bag, although there really wasn’t much climbing occurring. When Brooke was three she scurried up her first top rope climb at Grapefruit Rocks in Alaska. It took work to get her down from the rocks three years ago and today. Maybe Cody will warm up to the idea.
Scott’s first attempt pictures of success. The third picture above I have a strange face because Brooke climbed up and around some stairs to reach the little rock on the side of the chimney. She was taking pictures of me and didn’t like my determined face, so she asked me to smile. I was thinking about where I was going to put my hands next and trying not to think about how much the rock was ripping the skin off my hands. On my second attempt I followed Scott’s plan and shimmied up the chimney.
Cody did a great job of entertaining himself all morning playing with his Towmater and Batman Monster Truck in the dirt. The third picture above is Brooke at the top. It doesn’t really capture how high she climbed, so the fourth picture is her at the top (hard to spot her) not zoomed in.
Cody was pushed and pulled up the rock. Scott pushed with his hand and I pulled him with the rope. Cody wasn’t really enjoying it until he discovered rock on the little shelf we put him on. He loves to throw rocks, so naturally he threw a few a me so I could see them. I had to remind him that I was holding his rope and it probably wasn’t a good idea to through rocks at the person who was on belay for you. After climbing we headed to the eating area back near camp and ate some turkey grilled cheese sandwiches with salsa. Then we had some free showers! My second shower in three days!
Painted Hills Unit part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The Fossil Beds encompasses 14,000 acres in three separate units. It is one of the largest places set aside for gathering fossils in the entire world. We stopped by the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, the park visitor’s center, but we were a half hour too late as they closed at 5:00. We weren’t really planning to stop here, it just happened to be on the way.
The red in the Painted Hills is from oxidized iron. The golden layers are from oxidized magnesium and iron. The black streaks are from manganese. The hills were mostly created from the ash and pumice falls from the ancient Cascades. The picture on the right was of the hay bales drying under the beautiful blue sky with the Painted Hills behind.
For once the kids reaching across to each other was tickling, not plain old poking. They were at this for at least twenty minutes. 180 miles driven today. The daily mileage is going to have to increase over this last week. Someone has to get back to work next week.
We met Sammy before we met her owner Gary last night. Sammy felt she was the campground greeter. She kept us company and introduced us to Gary. Gary is on a mission to visit all of the National Parks and Monuments west of the Mississippi over the next eighteen months.
This is a picture of Gary’s dash board. He has collected seashells and all sorts of odds and ends from his travels. He gave the kids an entire bag of seashells. They acted like it was Christmas showing us each and every shell and talking about what they looked like.
Scott cooked up some burgers and baked potatoes over the fire. Brooke has become a big fan of baked potatoes. Cody likes them too, but mostly for the sour cream and butter. Cody eats the sour cream by the spoon full, much like ice cream…
I asked the kids to go the bathroom before crawling into the tent for the night. Cody is going to have trouble readjusting to being home. He loves peeing outside. He wanted to pee on the fire. Without skipping a beat I stated, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea Cody. You might get a roasted weenie.” Everyone died laughing. In fact the joke was repeated at least three dozen times by the kids. Thankfully Cody walked up to the outhouse with Brooke and I.
The moon was a little more than a 3rd Quarter moon, but it was incredibly bright. It looked like dawn at 4:30 in the morning due to the moon. It was also a pretty chilly night. No complaints, just noting the difference between Friday night at Smith Rocks and Saturday night further east with minimal elevation gain.