Sunday, June 29, 2008
Three Days in June… (Havasu Falls Backpack)
There is something oddly magical about being thrown together with a group of strangers, each attuned to one distant frequency. Our frequency was of course a resonance of unlikely life—water surging through an ancient and incredibly dusty, rocky inhospitable and impossibly parched region of the Southwest, a massive hydrologic scalpel slicing through the armor of earth.
Some of our party had traveled across the continent to be here, from the humid climes of Appalachia. Others of our group came from just a few hours distant over the nearly monochromatic landscape of ponderosa pine and scrubby juniper beyond the rim.
Approaching Supai, the native village just two miles from the cascades but eight from the treks beginning, is akin to transiting from one world to the another, and from one time to another. This surreal experience continues throughout the visit into the depths of the primordial canyon—a continual transiting from past to present, a split reality of ancient culture and technology mixed with 21st century modernity.
Such incredible forces at work—heat, water, wind, tectonics, gravity, time… mixed with a palpable serenity that happily infects. A welcome juxtaposition of visual and sensory experience, a pleasant and engaging opposition. Location must be paramount in the lives of many (all?), transitory as our locations and lives may be.
Three days in late June was enough to glimpse the magic of connection between people, cultures and landscape. Three days was enough to access parts of the cluttered self, to shed a bit of baggage and resonate with something timeless and beautiful. Just enough time to understand the necessity of reconnection, the ongoing need feel a part of something magical. –Bennett Barthelemy
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Mt. Arapiles was a good dose of reality…living in conditions that were not ideal. We first arrived in mid February to cool temps, great climbing and good people. After the first couple of weeks the weather turned ugly, heating up to 110 degrees temps with a wind that one of friends said, felt like someone was putting a hair dyer in your face. And HUMID. Nobody talks about how humid the Australian desert is!!!!! Bread rotted in a couple of days, veggies in one. The fire bans for multiple days at a time so we couldn’t cook food, not like anybody felt like eating much anyway.
We’re not complaining though, well maybe a little, but the reality is that we are so lucky to be traveling, doing what we love, with all the love and support of our family and friends.
It was a reality check in that traveling is never like you imagine, and some things just suck, but there are the treasures hidden in those times that are the most memorable. Hanging out with Luke (a crazy Oregonian electrician) and Alex (an even crazier Brit) on one of the first 100+ days drinking beer and playing scrabble at the pub. (We overheard the pub owners say, “there over there with a COMPUTER, playing SCRABBLE!!!!! To each is own, I guess”) Going to Aldi’s for the first time and discovering some of the first really cheap food we’ve seen the whole trip, listening to Volker, king of the Pines, philsosophize about life (he’d been living at the campground for 6 months when we arrived). The hitchhiking, route finding, RP (tiny brass wires to protect tiny cracks) epic’ing and climbing on rock that absolutely radiated heat. Hanging out learning not so nice Swedish phrases from Oscar and and Kalla…. All memorable times that will stay with us forever. D-
Yes, Arapiles is another vortex, kind of like the center of the universe in YO-semite…The Grampians, sadly only a day there, is also a magical spot. Tassie too and all the burly adventure there… Not a bad place to be stuck for a while. Nice to be tasting the chill of fall over the last couple of days after so many hot ones. Surreal to think that tonight we will be falling out of the fall and springing into the spring in the northern latitudes of the Mediterranean. Thanks to all the crazy souls for the good times in Oz, the genuine kindness of folks like Volker, Luke, Andy, Alex et all. All the best to them. B-
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Aahhh, Tasmania. It was the first place I have regretted leaving, wishing we had more time. It felt like we barely scratched the surface of such a wonderfully incredible and diverse place. And the friendships we forged there have made our trip rich in a way that can’t be described. Bleary eyed off the ferry in Devonport, we made the decision to rent a car, as we had heard that it would be impossible to get to many of the destinations we wanted to see with shuttle service. A good deal, and we were on our way with the mist beginning to rise out of the Eucalyptus valley, broken by rolling farmland. Through Launceston to Ben Lomond, checking out road kill along the way, trying to figure out what the animals were. A dirt road took us up through the forest, two snakes and an Echidna scurrying out of the way. We stopped for the Echidna, originally mistaking it for some porcupine, but it did the characteristic ritual of burying its nose in the ground. The locals call it the “I can’t see you so you can’t see me” ritual. Ben Lemon was nothing short of magical, huge pillars above tree line. The mist rolling through in the mornings and evenings.
After a couple of days getting schooled, we decided to move down the coast. Found a great whole foods store in St. Marys (no apostrophes here) and tasted the delights of Eucalyptus candy (a little strong for my taste) and Turkish delights (reminded me of my great grandmother for some reason as its made with rosewater). Driving down Elephants pass we caught our first glimpse of the Tasmanian coastline and as we dropped down further we saw the white sand beaches set against an aqua ocean and a deep cobalt sky. Utterly breathtaking. We stopped in Bicheno (pronounced Bisheno) for some much needed protein and then headed out towards Friendly Beaches. Little did we know we would be spending quite a bit of time at this Friendly beach. Our first exposure to Wallabies (aptly named Bennett’s Wallaby, no joke)….weird, and huge biting ants.
From Friendly beaches we decided to head down to the Freycinet peninsula where there was gorgeous sea cliffs. It promptly rained for the next five days and we were only able to get in a route or two. After the fifth day we bailed, having rescued the tent from the pond and headed back toward Bicheno for some groceries and internet. Headed back up to St. Marys to go to a cliff that we had passed on our way out of Ben Lomond and ended up doing a couple of climbs in between rain storms. Bailed out when the rain hit and then made our way back down to Freycinet (stopping again at the Friendly beaches for Wallaby burgers, VERY tasty, especially when wallabies are watching you eat them!!!!) We went back to the sea cliffs just in time to do a climb and meet Bob and Anna…one of the most serendipitous meetings of our trip! An hour later we were sharing wine and talking like long lost friends in the back of Anna’s car as rain poured down and possums tried to crawl on Bennett.
We stayed for another few days after they left and then headed down to Hobart, the capitol of Tasmania, to stay with Anna. We enjoyed her generosity for 5 days, showers, and a real bed in a real house .luxury. Did some great climbs together and then headed up the wild coast to catch our flight out of Launceston. Stayed with Bob and his incredible family outside of Exeter on the night before our flight out, it was a wonderful way to end the trip. There is still so much to explore here….
I think of the people we love all the time, so in a way we are all making this journey together and it has been more than I could have ever imagined. Thank you all for your love and support. Dana
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I can't believe our time in New Zealand is ending! Three weeks went by so quickly, but with lots of absolutely incredible memories. We rented a car so that we could tool around on our own schedule, and made our first stop at the base of Mt. Cook. Crazy glaciers and beautiful trails and some exciting climbing!!!! The day after we left Mt. Cook village, Sir Edmund Hillary passed away, so it eneded up being a timely visit...to be able to relate to the place where he spent much of his time training.
From there we drove through Wanaka, where we spent a hot afternoon waiting for the mechanic to explain why our rental car died....Then a seven hour push up the west coast to pick up a new car in Hokitika. The day ended with a beautiful sunset and pulling into a grassy campsite. Awoke to the sound of waves on the beach, thick costal fog and a wonderful little bay. The climbing here was incredible too, hung out for a few days at the place that boasts the closest crag to pub distance on the south island. Spent a rainy day chatting to a local jewler convinced of jade riches off the coast and playing scrabble in the pub with a wayward Canadian.
We ditched (or thought we did) the rainy weather and made a beeline for the alps in the hope of doing a trak there, but predictions of 3mm of rain/hour and the numerous river crossings persuaded us to continue down the eastern side of the alps to the boulering mecca of Castle Rock. Camped by a high alpine lake for a few days and confirmed that we are just not boulderers.
Having come to that conclusion, and wanting to do something more hardcore and adventureous, we hiked into a basalt area called Mt. Somers, an epic four hour trek with really heavy packs. Camped there for 5 days and weatherd out a storm and a low abundance of food...but it was worth it to hang out and climb. Ended up meeting a german couple whom we had met at the coastal crag of Charelston and were on a similar circuit as us. All in all, I couldn't imagine a better time! We fly out to Auckland from Christchurch tomorrow morning and then onto Sydney on Friday!!! Looking forward to another set of adventures.....Dana
Forever bittersweet... No plans to return but there will be things I will miss about N Zed... Like how the "e" in deck etc gets mangled in that characteristically Kiwi way--"the top dick is reserved for first class passengers only". The graffitti on the Constant Bay Reserve campground privy door that read "B 4 you bone Minky, cover ya slinky". The stipling of tiny manuka flowers on rolling sub-alpine landscapes. The sub-alpine bees the size of ping-pong balls endlessly fascinated by the nectar flowing from my dripping nose. Calling coffee long black or flat white. How every Kiwi is at the ready to give you a meteorological lesson about typical NZ wind patterns, rainfall, rain shadows, trends... and the way they say, "It was supposed to be nice." Being in a country where one of the most visible national heroes (on the $5 dollar bill i think) is/was a humanitarian and mountaineer. NZ actually makes a concerted effort to be somewhat bi-lingual with Maori text accompanying English on signs, some news broadcasts etc. Parting a sea of white mewing 150 lb wooly parasites with our NIssan Sunny that has 270,000 k's on the highway as dogs smarter than the average Republican keep them in order. Sliding nuts over 25 year old machine bolts on rock as slick as soap and about as crumbly while swearing I see Frodo strapped to a crashpad running through the labyrinth of Castle Hill bouders. Finding my passport missing the day before we fly to Australia and calling the Bank of NZ in Akaroa and hearing them tell me they will courier my forgotten passport to me via the shuttle bus driver that is leaving for Christchurch that very hour. -Bennett
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Kiwis are probably the friendliest folk on the planet... rain, sun, green, clear cuts, homegenous second growth, slipping through sheep merdes, hostel scenes, guiness on draft, kumara chips, sore calf muscles, tolkienesque landscapes, black beech and tree ferns, Maori... so far so good. renting a car today to escape the multi national sheep and do our own thing and climb, camp for free etc... things are steep for the wimpy US dollar here and geared toward those that want to pay for convenience--not us obviously. time do some streching so i can heft the near 80 lbs of gear (imagine me flexing...ok, maybe not) B.B.
A little narration on the pictures....The one of a crazy french statue with me is in Picton (where there is an incredible bakery, with all sorts of meat pies). Everyone found our packs fairly amusing (Bennett likes to make it known that his pack is 15 whole lbs. heavier than mine, even though he outweighs me by 45 lbs.)! The one of me and some other folks at a cabin is the lunch stop on the first day of our Kaikoura coast track. Pretty incredible view, complete with a "billy" to boil tea (the tea here is AMAZING). The two women are great English girls and the guy is an Australian who wants to do a PhD studying ANTS!!!! The picture of Bennett and I was also taken on the first day of the KCT, and I'm doped up on antihistamines, HORRIBLE hay fever. We got treated to picking eggs from the henhouse on the first night and homemade, incredible treats on our last afternoon from a woman named Gypsy. She made amazing fruit cake (you would have loved it Mom!!!) The trip has been wonderful so far, surpassing any previous expectations and everything seems to be going smoothly, which in nice. We miss you all, but are having a terrific time! Love, Dana