Swimtrunks Are Perfect

I wore them all day. It was an eventful day. I woke up getting rained on at 7:15am. The sunrise had not yet happened and the sky was fiery and beautiful. I ate chocolate and drank day old coffee and packed. Then I continued on my way down Bench Rd, but I was quickly halted. Heavy rains last week filled the potholes in Zion but also heavily damaged the roads. The steep and rocky section I soon came to would have been dangerous to attempt without the new damage. As it stood the road was impassable to my tiny Miata, and as if to underscore this salient fact a lifted Toyota pickup came creaking by, it’s 35″ tires crunching over lose rock while its long-travel shock absorbers maybe raucous sucking sounds with every bump. I waved and continued filling in a path across the furrows using loose rocks. In an hour I was down and in the park in one piece, but now they didn’t have any Subway permits left. For a moment I considered poaching this crown jewel of canyoneering day trips, but I chose to welcome abundance into my life instead – certainly I’ll be back in Zion very soon. Besides, the fall colors are not happening yet. So I crossed the park, happy I’d used my parks pass to at least see my favorite park, and I headed up the switchbacks to the Mt Carmel tunnel. I hooted and howled through the tunnel and then when I came or the other side I identified in my head the madness of each drainage that leads to a technical canyon that I’ve done as I crossed them on the road. I was having trouble finding Keyhole, and when I thought I had I stopped and hiked up a couple hundred feet to the narrows: full and dark. I’d only run Keyhole once before, and this was underscored by the fact that as I drove up the road I could not with certainty identify the proper approach. Still, I thought I remembered not needing any gear so I donned my swimtrunks and climbed to the only logical slickrock pass that might descend to the head of Keyhole on my topo maps. I didn’t take any gear like rope or a harness because I don’t have any with me on this trip, so I used a simple plan: I just wouldn’t climb down anything I would nor be able to get back up. Except I never really intended to follow my plan, I layer realized: the most challenging obstacle in Keyhole is this steep corkscrew pouroff that is just narrow enough that you can stem right down into the chest-deep pothole at the bottom, which I happily did. The problem, though, is how do you get back into a backwards stem from treading water, while you’re wet? Unconcerned I continued down the canyon. Unconcerned, that is, for about three more minutes. That’s when I came to Keyhole’s actual most challenging obstacle, the 15′ rappel I’d conveniently forgotten. If you think too long you panic. If you panic you freeze up and you’re stuck. And if you’re stuck, you’re waiting for rescue. Either from the next party that finally comes out to practice in this most mundane of technical canyons, or by a ranger who starts to wonder why that red Miata had been on the side of the road so long. Either way, it takes a day or two. A COLD day or two. Did I mention I was wearing swimtrunks and NO SHIRT? And sure, you’ll live, but wasting two days really fucks up your vacation. So I jumped. Five foot slide to a five foot freefall to another five foot slant where I finally careened into a shallow pothole. Sore wrists from the landing, but otherwise none the worse for wear. Mentally, I was seriously shaken. I continued down the canyon with trepidation. If I’d forgotten one rappel, how many more had I forgotten? Oh no, I thought. Every turn and every downclimb and every long,  freezing cold swim brought me closer to the end and a sigh of relief. I popped out right where I’d walked up to, and back at the car my phone had had enough time to charge a scant 20%. I hung my swimtrunks on my bike seat and raced off to Bryce National Park. I stopped for pastries along the way (twice, caffeine makes me hungry) and ended up with the nicest loaf of plain white bread I’ve ever eaten from the second roadside bakery. (The first bakery was nothing but a tourist trap where the clerk tried to tell me that all their pastries are made in Germany and flown in – what a crock! I bought a donut anyway, and it was your run of the mill grocery store donut but had obviously been frozen.)
Near Bryce I picked up the Thunder Mountain trail and enjoyed ripping through hoodoos just outside the park. But I must have read the description wrong because the ride back to my car was as long as the trail itself and by the time I got back I had covered 20 miles in two hours, which left me with just enough time to get Capitol Reef National Park as the orchards closed. I had no reception to map it in order to know for sure, but it was about 2.5 hours and I had to try to make it.
The views along the way were astounding and I had to stop to take pictures and video (ok, if you’re one of my instagram followers you probably realized I’m not stopped while I’m shooting video. Just don’t tell my mom.) I made the 2.5 hour drive in two hours flat and got directions to the orchards from the girl at the visitor’s center information desk. There wasn’t a pear in sight but I picked as many ripe apples as I thought I’d be able to eat. It was so peaceful that I did some yoga and went over and talked to some old folks sketching the cottonwoods against a towering orange butte aflame in the day’s last sun. The campground is beautiful and I’d love to stay there. I probably would have, had there been any spaces available; it seems to always be full. The cottonwoods there will probably be changing in the next couple of weeks… Anyway, I continued east under cloudy skies and soon found myself here, on the north end of Moab, poised to kick off the final weekend of my five week adventure two days early with some uber-technical mountain biking!

Days 2, 3 and 4 of Christmas in Hawaii

Day 2: Slept in and rode as a passenger in Steve’s maniac mobile as we sped wildly through fog up and down the hills around Honolulu playing dance music. Ya!

Day 3: Maui Begins. The Valley Isle looms ahead of me. My 8:43 am flight to Maui was canceled and my shuttle was running 15 minutes late, but I managed to get a hot breakfast and an earlier flight. Met up with mom and we went to the beach. The surf was up. I swam a bunch. Kinda hurt my neck and right ankle.

Day 4: Downhill Mountain Bike descent of Haleakala. I rented a Specialized Enduro for the weekend and road it down the Skyline Trail on Haleakala. Great ride.

I got stuck in a rain storm and got a flat tire and had to have mom come pick me up. Thank god I had reception!

I’ve been a little frustrated. I’m getting tired of mom’s incessant gabbing. Need to get good long rest. I love myself. I approve of myself. I am willing to change. I am willing to let go.