Monday, February 8, 2016

Sunshine, Snow, Helpful Ranchers, and Reflection

Despite cold temperature forecasts, the sun has been out, the wind has been still, and we've been getting out for a nice bouldering session each weekend.  We even got out the day after competing in the Wyoming Bouldering Series Comp held at the Elemental Gym here in Lander.  It was just too sunny to stay inside.
 But we were too worked from the comp that day to climb anything new.

Yesterday I was well rested and excited for a day at Sweetwater.  We pulled off the highway, and began to hit some snow.  So I put on my new chains, and we started driving down the two track. It didn't look bad at all.  But before I could even pick up speed, my tires fell through a crust on top of the snow and we went slower and slower until came to a stop while going slightly downhill.  We couldn't go forwards or back!  Our tires were just spinning in pits of snow that only got deeper the more we tried to get ourselves out.  The snow wasn't even that deep, but once the tires dug to the bottom of the snow they hit soft sand underneath, and just kept digging deeper.   After forty minutes of trying various things I decided that I wasn't going to be able to get myself out, and I walked the little ways back to the highway.  We had no cell phone service.  My plan was to flag someone down, and ask them to stop at the Split Rock Cafe in Jeffrey City to call in a tow truck.  It took five minutes of waiting before a single car came past.  I saw a college age girl in the driver seat.  I waved my arms, but she pulled into the opposite lane and seemed to accelerate as she passed me.  I couldn't be sure if she was too scared to stop, or just indifferent.  A few more minutes passed and I saw an old truck coming slowly down the highway with two guys in it.  It pulled up, and I thought I recognized the old rancher who lives near the boulders.  It was the same guy. Turns out the pair were there to pull out a horse trailer that had gotten stuck a little further down the two track.  They backed down the road, hooked up a rope to my truck, and yanked us right out of our stressful predicament.  We thanked them profusely, and gave them the small amount of cash that we happened to have with us.  I parked safely by the highway and we started hiking into the boulders.  It took us about twenty minutes. We watched the ranchers continue driving through deepening snow, pull the horse trailer out of a drift, and tow it past the boulders to the ranch.  A little while later they drove back out with a horse in the trailer.  I don't really understand how their old truck was able to go anywhere, even through deep snow, while pulling a loaded horse trailer. Meanwhile my truck got stuck almost as soon as we pulled off the highway.

We started warming up in cold but climbable conditions.
Then the wispy clouds drifted east, the sun came out in full strength, and suddenly it was T-shirt weather! I got to work on an old project, we'd already put a few sessions into, that I'd been calling "The Common Core Project."
And just before it was time to start hiking out, I managed to put it all together. But it didn't feel right to call it "Common Core"  anymore.  I never would have climbed the line yesterday if the ranchers didn't get our truck out of the snow.  So I named it "Rescue Ranchers" in appreciation of the help we received. Here's the uncut footage.

In other news, I turned 40 last week.  An age that forced me to reflect on how I've spent my life so far, my motivations, and my future.  And after thinking through all the aspects of my life with a critical eye, I'm still feeling good about things. Very relieved that I don't see a midlife crisis on the horizon. 

So as far as bouldering goes, I'll be sticking with my current path.  To keep climbing as much as my body will let me, keep training as little as possible, and keep exploring as much as I can without letting hiking cut into my climbing time.  That's how I want to spend the time I have.  Because every project is a question, my bouldering maps still have promising blank spaces, and I'm as curious as ever.