Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Holes, Ska and Summits

It was a clear and sunny Wednesday morning and I had made big plans to summit Arizona's roof with Senor Giles. I awoke with a dry mouth and a dull ache from the Tuesday night fiesta that comes with the college kids moving back into town only to find a sketchy roommate who bailed on an epic to go play bikes with some new roadie companion... can't hate on a man for wanting new friends but give a fool some warning.

Regardless I hit Matt's phone and said "Pit, today is the day 5.12 onsight." He said cool, packed his gear and called me back 15 minutes later. "Uhh, my truck has a broken out window. I can't climb." I didn't understand the correlation between the two. I climb when I'm frustrated, ecstatic or ambivalent... but he needed to console his truck or something so he bailed and left me with my day off to ponder what the bejeezus I can do with my day off work flying solo.

As I was driving aimlessly around town I came across the city limits. There was a sign that said "Grand Canyon: North Rim 124 miles." I took a quick inventory of the party wagon (gas, water, phone, boots, ipod). Cranked the Johnny Cash and blazed a trail down old Route 66 to witness the grandness of this hole for myself. I blew past the national park (by accident not purpose) and continued to the north rim proper, what awaited me was a giant desert filled with nothing and a big hole in the middle. Not a soul was in sight and as I parked my car and wandered off through the dust. I realized that not many people have the opportunity to see the Canyon proper, alone, surrounded by absolutely nobody. I spent a good hour and a half wandering around until I found a good boulder overlooking the canyon that looked like a proper sittin' spot. From there I watched the sun slowly fade behind the sandstone towers that surround the hole and let the dust of the desert settle into my bones before returning to town feeling fulfilled and refreshed.

Stolen pic but it looked like this, minus the rainbow, plus my presence.

Thursday and Friday were pretty much a wash, I'm sure I did some drinkin' or something but nothing worth bragging about.

Saturday night however... I slung the lattes until close and booked it out of the shop at the speed of sound. One of my favorite bands of my youth was playing a free show on campus and be damned if I missed it. I've seen Less Than Jake no less than 3 times as memory serves and every show has been memorable to say the least (that's where that story stops). Regardless this washed up late 90s ska band played a set that was almost identical to the last time I saw them at 15 years old, right down to their two encore songs. Classic and made me feel right back in jr. high, even though I was surrounded by 18 year olds who were solely at the show because they hadn't found enough friends at freshman orientation to know where the booze is at.

This dude has literally looked like this since I saw him at Warped Tour 2000. Something about my childhood likes that.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: I once again made plans with John boy to hit the roof of Arizona and be damned if I was going to let him bail again. I was awake at 8 and ready to go. The weather was gusty and abnormally cool to say the least. I started texting John at 9 telling him to get up and get to the mt. Fast forward 2 hours and somehow John managed to get out of bed and I harassed, threatened to do the hike solo and lied long enough about the 70% chance of t-storms that we were bound for the trailhead. Finally got to hiking around 11:15, with my stomach churning with excitement and fear knowing that we might break treeline in the middle of a wicked storm.

Broke treeline around 1:45. Not many people were summiting Humphrey's that day which I thought seemed odd as it's a pretty moderate, albeit time consuming, 10 mile hike and we somehow managed to stay out of the wet. Figured it out once we got up there though. It seemed that with every 100 feet of elevation and exposure we gained above treeline the wind would crank it up another 10mph. We went from steady 60mph hurt on the first false summit, to steady 75mph on the second and finally got stuck with 95mph gusts making the final steep 100 meter push vertical to the summit. It was cold and miserable up there but the experience was soooo worth it. Most guide books warn that any weekend you will be battling up to 100 other people getting to the top, we had the summit to ourselves the entire 30 minutes we were there. Not too shabby at all.

So here's to great holes, great heights and washed up musicians who still make me smile.

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