It seems that every summer Jen and I find ourselves out west for one reason or another, and we've really dialed in the recipe for a great road trip. Start with the centerpiece of the meal, a job or project that's located deep in the American West. Rub liberally on both sides with a few days of rock climbing, add a dash of hiking through classic national park trails, and finish with a pinch of seeing old friends and making new ones, and voila! That right there is tasty road trip.
This blog will be a condensed recap of our trip to show off the photos, but don't worry, I'll provide some context to the images and try to keep from rambling too much.
The foundation of the trip came from two interviews I lined up for the Kentucky Ice Climbing Film that I'm working on. The first folks to climb ice in KY now lived in Colorado and Washington, so I plotted a road trip to interview both of them, while making other stops along the way. Jen and I left Kentucky around mid-July and drove straight through to Colorado after a brief stop in St. Louis for some grub and a nap somewhere in Kansas. One burning car and three near-miss accidents later and we were in Denver.
During our stay, we made day trips to Eldorado Springs to climb and Mt. Evans to hike.
Mt. Evans, Colorado Photos
After another day in Denver, we left our friends place (thanks for letting us crash!) and B-lined it to Aspen, crossing over Independence Pass along the way.
We just barely found a campsite as dusk set in. It was an awesome, almost hidden campground that I wish we had more time at!
Maroon Bells, Colorado Photos
At sunrise the next morning, we drove up to the iconic Maroon Bells and hiked a few miles. I took this opportunity to capture a bunch of images for stock.
We left Aspen and made our way to Delta, Colorado, where we found a remote campsite for the night and got some rest before our interview the following day.
We interviewed Ed Pearsall, a rock climber who established a number of trad lines in the Red River Gorge in the late 70s, but who also did a bunch of ice climbing while there. He shared some hilarious stories about cow tipping, drinking whisky, and chasing storms.
Zion National Park Photos
From Delta, Jen and plotted our course to Kanab, Utah, just outside of Zion National Park. Up before the sun came up the next morning, we caught the first shuttle to the bottom of the narrows, and hiked up to Big Spring and back. It was an incredible location, with tall, winding, water-streaked canyon walls that had been cut by the Virgin River, which we had to swim through at times. Simply stunning.
From southern Utah, we drove north and through Salt Lake, saw friends in Ogden for a hot minute, and eventually made camp at City of Rocks. If you've never been, the camping and the climbing are soooo good. I'm already planting seeds for a trip back here next year.
Two days of chasing shade, 2 minute approaches, and quality sport and trad routes were barely enough to satisfy my desire to climb, but it had to do, as our next interview location was still quite a drive away. We kept heading north and west, eventually landing in Walla Walla, Washington. Our second interview would be with Ed's climbing partner, Kevin Pogue, another old-school rock and ice climber from Kentucky.
More than just stories, Kevin had some amazing photos from the 70s and 80s that he had shot and was very generous in sharing them with me to use in the film. We shared many laughs and even nerded out a bit over ice climb location beta and talking about "the ones that got away."
From Washington, Jen and I started back east, with a few days planned in the Teton/Yellowstone area. These national parks were busy, as expected, but you really can't blame people because these locations are truly spectacular.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park Photos
Around August 3rd, Jen caught a flight back to KY, while I stayed for climbing and to catch up on some editing work that needed my attention. I did some fun climbs and hikes, but that's the subject of my next blog...