Once Upon a Time I Crossed the Country

It's been two and a half years now since I moved to Seattle with my boyfriend Ryan but now that this site is up and running I wanted to reflect on one of the biggest adventures I've had...moving across the country. This trip was centered around climbing and visiting friends. This was our first true encounter with the western wilderness and we have definitely learned a lot since. Here are the highlights day by day.

August 5, 2010: Up by 6:30am to finish squeezing the car full of all of the items that did not make it into boxes. By 9:30am we were set and after a brief stop at the Flying Biscuit the Oldsmobile Aurora was on the road by 10am. Bye Bye Atlanta. First stop, Evansville, IN. On the way we took scenic route 109 through Kentucky. This is not a route I suggest as it is not scenic. Arrived at our friend Jenny's for a home cooked meal, Shark Week, and a super comfortable air mattress.

August 6, 2010: Brief stop in St. Louis to view the Arch, which Ryan found to be more beautiful than the Eiffel Tower. I touched the Mississippi (and sometimes I am still concerned what might come of that encounter). Crossed Missouri forever and finally arrived in Sioux Falls, SD. As we drove we started to realize the sky was getting bigger. We also saw the "Washington Monument" on 29N near the Iowa-South Dakota border and hit our first 1,000 miles somewhere in Iowa.

Arch Excitement

August 7, 2010: Left Sioux Falls for Devil's Tower. Early morning found us on a mission for McDonald's breakfast, which we finally acquired after about 40 miles. Arrived at Mt. Rushmore filled with Harleys (we later found out it was Sturgis). We managed to find a crystal blue lake for a swim and when the Harley's weren't passing it was quite peaceful. Now I really felt I was out west. Made it to Devil's Tower with light and sat drinking a beer taking in the view.


At about 10pm I witnessed one of the most amazing lightning storms I have ever seen. No time between bolts and 360 degrees of light surrounding our tent. We headed to the car and within a few minutes the rain came pouring down. After the storm had passed we learned that our tent was quite waterproof so next time we won't have to run for the car. 

August 8, 2010: Due to the storm the night before, climbing Devil's Tower was removed from our list. Instead we hit the road and 7 hours later arrived in Lander, WY. After lunch at the Lander Bar we headed to Sink Canyon to set up camp, make fire, and eat s'mores. 

August 9, 2010: Spent the day in Sink Canyon after our first good sleep of the trip. Packed our packs for the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range and discovered that they were quite heavy.  

August 10, 2010: Drove the "Muddy Speedway" for 36 miles and arrived at Big Sandy Trailhead with only half a tank of gas. Quickly realized this hike was going to be difficult. Made it until about 5pm before choosing to camp below Arrowhead with beautiful scenery. Had jambalaya and went to sleep at 8pm. In hindsight we did not need jambalaya, or pasta alfredo, or taco night. Without these things we would have made it into the Cirque in one day  but this was our first true backcountry climbing adventure so you learn...

August 11, 2010: Woke up from 12 hours of sleep refreshed and in much better spirits. Finally made it over Jackass Pass and the Continental Divide for our first views of the Cirque. Spent the rest of the day chilling in preparation for the South Buttress of Pingora.  

Wolfs Head and Pingora

August 12, 2010: Made it up to the K-cracks on Pingora before the snow began to fall, keeping us from the scramble to the summit. Today we learned what it meant to be climbing in the Winds. 

August 13, 2010: Still recovering from the previous three days we decided to stay away from climbing for the day. Tips learned on this day: 1. When feeling blue in the backcountry don't sit in the tent. Go for a hike with a goal in mind. 2. Warm coffee=good. 3. Sesame Sticks=yummy. 

August 14, 2010: Determined to do the East Ridge of Wolfs Head. Arrived at the climb by 11am with cold toes. First two pitches were amazing and many hand traverses followed. The views from the knife edge  ridge were amazing and all in all the climb was beautiful. We reached the summit by 7:30pm. Met the Smiley's at the top and rappelled with them (and have kept in touch since). Luckily they lent us a headlamp when we reached the ground at 9pm. Back to camp by 10:30PM happy and tired.

First Pitches on Wolfs Head

August 15, 2010: Began the hike out at 11am and quickly decided we must do it all in one day. Tears and pain followed. Arrived at the trailhead at 6pm, had a brief joyful breakdown, and headed to Jackson for beer, burgers, showers, TV, and bed. Glorious. 

August 16, 2010: Gorged ourselves at the Bunnery and took the chair lift to the top of Snow King. Decided we had to check out Yellowstone. Saw Old Faithful. Somewhat disappointed. Headed back to Jackson in a rain storm, ate pizza, did laundry, drank wine, and watched the Devil Wears Prada. 

August 17, 2010: Horses in Jackson with Ryan's aunt.


August 18, 2010: Headed to Idaho Falls. We realized that Ryan "can't read and write while going over a mountain pass." Repacked the car. Took a moonlight ride.  Had an asthma attack.

Bryce Sunset

August 19, 2010: Left Idaho Falls in the early morning and made it to the Salt Lake City REI by 10:30am. Went to the Lone Star Taqueria on Ft. Union Bvld to indulge in delicious tacos and promptly enter a food coma. On the road to Bryce in another downpour. Arrived in the crowded campsite by 5pm and had a delicious dinner, finally used the bikes on the back of the car, and watched the sunset over the Bryce Amphitheater. 

August 20, 2010: 1:40am I had a small freak out that my sleeping bag was eating me. Zipper stuck. Very hot. Ryan saved me. Woke up at 5:45am to watch the sunrise over Bryce. Walked around the canyon for a bit before heading to Zion. Once we arrived we realized the weather was not in our favor for hiking the entire Narrows, a long slot canyon, so we set up camp and took a hammock nap.  

August 21, 2010: Hiked up the Narrows for a couple of hours all the way to Big Spring. It was absolutely beautiful. As we headed back the river began to fill with tourists. We made it out after a 6.5 hour round trip and headed back to camp for a sausage dinner and a night out in the hammocks. 

August 22, 2010: Woke up early intending to climb the Tabernacle Dome. However, once we hit the road we thought of 100 degree temps and decided to drive to San Diego instead with a stop at the Hoover Dam. We were greeted with champagne and promptly headed to South Beach Bar and Grill for Zucchini Tacos. These are a must have if you've never been. We touched the Pacific and passed out. 

August 23, 2010: Surfed. Rosted a duck.

August 24, 2010: Surfed. Ate more tacos and drank serrano margaritas.

August 25, 2010: Headed to LA after filling up at Hash House a GoGo. Family time. 

August 27, 2010: Had breakfast with my grandma and then hit the road for Yosemite. Drove through the Mojave and passed Mt. Whitney. Brief stop at Mono Lake, which smelled awful and ate Ryan's skin. I waited on the shore. We made it to Saddlebag Lake by 3pm and waited for our friend Richard to show up at 4pm. Champagne, wine, whiskey. Fell asleep full of sausage again with a bright moon above. 

August 28, 2010: Drinking at altitude leaves you thirsty. Planned to climb Mt. Conness and the approach was beautiful although the clouds looked ominous. We made it to the ridge line where we were immediately blown off. Is anyone sensing a theme. After deciding to bail and having a quick snack the snow began to fall. The flurries soon turned to a full on snow storm. Drove to Yosemite Valley where the temps quickly increased from 40 to 65. 

August 29, 2010: Made our way to Manure Pile Buttress where we climbed After 7 (5.8) after Richard. Fun climbing. Later we headed to the Alcove Swing on El Cap. Best rope swing ever. Makes you feel like Spiderman. 

August 30, 2010: Headed to Swan Slab and climbed a 5.7, Lena's Lieback (5.9) , and a 5.10. Looked for other climbs but the crowds were increasing so we biked around the Valley instead. Went to climb Church Bowl Lieback (5.8), which was a great climb.

August 31, 2010: Headed out to Berkeley. Highway 99 is terrifying.  

September 1-5, 2010: The documentation stopped but we did bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, bought wine in Sonoma, drove through the Redwoods and stopped on the Oregon shore. Seattle was close so we chose to push ahead quickly and finally unpack the car.


For the past two and a half years the real adventures have begun and I have slowly learned how to approach the west. I will start to keep you posted about where I've been and what I've done from now on here.