Friday, June 29, 2007

Great Sunrise, Great Movie...

Poised for a literary leap here; time will tell if I reach the other side…

A great sunrise is like a great movie. Casting eastward or screen-ward, patiently, the moment pregnant with possibility. Perhaps a few clouds skirt the horizon, actors waiting in the wings for the grand entrance, to catch the light for a fleeting moment, to wash with color and emotion. Shadows shorten as depth and clarity build… Soon a symphony of light—the blasting of trumpets and the beating of kettle drums kind… In the growing promise of, and finally realized warmth, we can smile and nod at how good it feels to be engaged and alive. The burst of light-rays from the sun would have to be the script as it kind of holds everything together and makes it all happen. A good sunrise stays with you, like a flirtatious smile, hard to shake from memory and almost magical. Is it possible to weep watching the sunrise? Yes.

A bad movie? Better off sleeping in.

Two great movies:

1. The Fountain. A masterpiece on all levels… Rachel Weisz, Hugh Jackman
Heavy, like celluloid gold.

2. Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector. Larry The Cable Guy is my new hero. Iris Bahr is perfectly cast. Light, like celluloid helium.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bryce NP Bio Adventure

So I survived 8 days in Bryce as a volunteer photographer. We (Dana-newly minted professional biologist and Kirstin Ironside-professional for some time now) hiked transects set up in the 1950's as part of a permenent vegetation study of forest succession. Every decade or so biologists (Dana got this sweet gig for the summer through NAU/Merriam-Powell Center for Enviromental Research) hunt down rebar stakes pounded into the ground at 100 meter intervals and then catalog basically every plant, flower and tree they find in the surrounding radius.

New respect for field biologists--these guys work hard! Hot, dusty, dirty, dehydrated, sunburnt, heavy loads, long days... These rebar stakes can be a nightmare to find, hidden under sage, lost after fires, with sometimes only a few rusty inches poking out fo the red earth. I got good at pacing and compass bearings. My job was to shoot each plot with the quadrat placed over it (see photo) and then at the photo plots, every 4th or so, i would match the bearing with earlier photos and shoot the resident trees etc. I think the record was 11 plots in one day.

I am pretty good too at ID-ing ponderosa, limber pine, juniper, bristle-cone... and picked up some fun latin names like artemesia, pinus flexicus... Next time the study is done the biologist will have a much easier time as every plot will now have a corresponding photograph and will be locked into the GPS unit with crazy layers in the GIS program that will make the data super accessible and ripe for all kinds of cool analysis to help better understand the nature of forest-prairie evolution/health etc...

Only 184 more plots to go!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wupatki National Monument AZ

From Sunset Crater, (which the National Monument sign states as a “clumsy” name given by J.W. Powell for the volcano’s colors during his SW trompings—I thought was not too bad for a moniker…) the drive is a horeshoe shape, eventually reconnecting quite a ways north down the 89. Multiple ruins from Anasazi/Hopi begin to appear about half-way through the 30 mile drive in Wupatki NM that date from around 1050 AD. (Imagine a perfect 15 foot high, 5.10 finger crack in a natural boulder in your living room—see pic)Amazing architects—sites up high like the Citadel and on rock scarps with the landscape dropping away to east through red sandstones, limestones and volcanic columns and on into the Painted Desert. One of the northern most ball courts, very reminiscent of Mayan/Aztec ball games, there are a network of over 200 courts that are roughly 100 feet long and 70 feet wide that can be walked to in a day. The day I visited Wupatki gusts of over 70 mph threatened to blow my tripod away. If you have a half-day to spare this tour is well worth it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Mace, Sedona AZ

Yeah, The Mace, way fun.

Secret beta is that one 70m rope works fine for 2 raps off the back--3 counting the short one back to the step across move--I had a handy excuse not to do the psychotic jump as my ankle is sprained from a recent bike crash, no health insurance is a good de-motivator as well. You now rap from the metal summit register---weird and something neither of us had ever seen before which took us a bit to figure out, so new there are no rope grooves and only scant friction burns on the rock.

My partner Pat had a rope in a pack-strong!- and I had my camera bag -stupid!- on our backs which was a nightmare in the chimneys and not the way to go--no wonder people balk at the 5.9+ rating, must be as dumb as we were. Yet the climbing in actuallity is pretty chill, it's when you choose to superflously accessorize that you pay dearly, like the high-heeled woman with her foot caught beneath the brake pedal.

Off the top I had Pat posing with Metolius prusik/sewn rapel cords that photo ed Brooke S had sent along for shots (on El Cap, but i figured this was a close second, just smaller by a one power of 10 right?). Funny because the prop ended up saving the day as Pat rapped a no pro chimney and had to prusik back up... Oh, and pants are definitely key, thanks for that tidbit--especially in full sun and 90 degree heat!

What would be really sick is to invent a desert climber suit (I am sure someone's thought of this), like the football mascots have, with AC in them. Or next time we could just do a Charlie Chicken and Barney ascent...would Climbing be psyched running a story on a desert FA by a chicken and a dinosaur?--I think we could make it happen-- But which one would i be? hmmmm...

So Pat and I then staggered around decadent downtown Sedona covered in sweat and red dust and too proud/cheap to cave in to a $10 hot dog and $5 water so drove up to Flag--amazing how severe dehydration can mimic 3 hits of acid but it made the scenic drive amazingly so and without the nasty hangover.

Comedy of errors--it never ends.

Around the world...

Throwing caution to the zephyrs and kissing goodbye any hopes of procuring a car, Dana and I officially purchased our round the world tickets! So if any wayward souls find themselves crossing the bow of our ship in parts known and unknown we should meet up. Our stated goals with our international sojourns (besides the obvious of grabbing a solid relationship by the ankles and pulling in all directions at once to see what happens) is to climb, write, shoot, volunteer at non-profits, and hopefully publish selected aspects of the insanity. Our itinerary is as follows:

January 3rd: New Zealand, South Island for about 2 weeks
January 17: Sidney Australia
February 19: Kathmandu
March 21: Istanbul
March 24: Greece
Overland travel through Mediterranean, Morroco, Europe
June 17: Paris to Los Angeles

Saturday, June 16, 2007


So Dana and I made the big move. Hanging out with locals (see pic). So far Flag rocks!