The Wind in the Boulders

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It’s been about a month since we left Ashland, leaving us five months to get back. We’ve learned a lot on the road; for instance, we’ve learned that six months is a very short time to travel 10,000 miles and that there is fun to be had everywhere. If we ever hope to get back, we had better pick the best spots and pass up the rest. Throughout the past week and a half, we’ve spent a fair amount of time on the road in an attempt to sample what the southwest has to offer without using up too much precious time.

IMG_5073After leaving Sedona, we headed to Prescott (pronounced pres-kit) where we met up with some Arizona League folks and visited Prescott College’s Field Operations. We used our first day to explore the city, including the pump track, and check out some local climbing at the Granite Dells. The next morning, John Shumaker, the Arizona League race director, took us on a ride down Wolverton Trail. We got a taste of Prescott riding while attempting to keep up with John on the trail. The next day, we visited Prescott College’s Field Operations. Prescott College is very focused on field-based education, and their Field Ops is all about supporting class trips. It was a pretty neat school to learn about and their Field Ops building, where the gear is stored and maintained, was a warehouse to inspire jealousy when compared to the SOU OP’s meager storage capacity. That evening, we met up with Wayne, a local Arizona League coach, to ride with the Prescott High team. Unfortunately, it seemed all of the student athletes were headed to the Sea Otter Classic, as the group was almost all coaches.

photo(1)Our next move took us south to Tucson to check out the Arizona Leaders’ Summit, a training seminar for future coaches. Along the way, we stopped and rode the Black Canyon Trail. After riding 9 of the previous 11 days, we were feeling it, though the BCT was worth the stop. That night, we were kindly put up by some of Nathan’s Aunt’s friends; Jeanmarie and Ells. The opportunity to shower and do some laundry was greatly appreciated. Saturday, we went for a ride with about thirty attendees of the Leaders’ Summit on the Sweetwater trails. It was a pretty cool trail network and our casual ride on the BCT left us with enough energy to chase after the cross country racers we were riding with.

DSC_0110Immediately after the evening ride, we headed east towards Hueco. We drove a couple hours and camped at Indian Bread Rocks just south of I10. We went to bed immediately after pulling into camp late. The next morning we were greeted with the sight of gorgeous granite boulders (which were not in Rock n’ Road nor on Mountain Project). We spent the morning exploring a very small piece of the boulder field and found some pretty cool problems. A lot of the granite was great quality and there were some tall (40 ft plus) faces around. Sunday evening we pulled into Hueco Tanks just after 5pm. Hueco Tanks has some world renowned bouldering and sits just East of El Paso, Texas. If you ever plan on going, ask your friends a lot of questions, as it’s quite unique in it’s park management and surrounding infrastructure. When we arrived, the place was deserted because the Hueco season ended a couple weeks ago (it’s now a bit warm and rather windy). Figuring out where to camp proved to be challenging but we found a spot in front of the country store and managed to catch Lowell, the owner, that evening to gain some necessary beta about climbing in Hueco. The next morning we jumped through all of the park’s hoops without issue (because it was out of season), snagged a free Dr. Topo guide, and got to it. We were able to find some great problems in the couple days we spent there and met a few cool people as well. If you ever have and opportunity to climb at Hueco, take advantage of it. It’s an experience.DSC_0102DSC_0129photo(3)IMG_5189DCIM100GOPROAfter Hueco we spent a couple days in Las Cruces checking out New Mexico State Universities Outdoor Recreation department and seeing what biking was around. We wandered into a bike shop to get some trail beta and met Logen, a high school mountain biker who’s been interning at the local bike shop. We got into a pretty good conversation about what it is we’re doing and how we’ve been connecting our education with mountain biking. He was pretty excited to hear about it since he’s been trying to figure out how to connect college with mountain biking. He ended up taking us around A Mountain, a local post-work sort of ride on the edge of town as a thank-you for the information and ideas we provided about mountain biking in college.

The last couple days we’ve been in Albequerque. We checked out Tunnel/Otero Canyon, a very cool trail system just east of town and managed to find a forest road to camp out on for a couple nights. In the coming days, we’ll be headed north toward Durango, Colorado. Hopefully we’ll finally get the boats in the water and make our abominable gas mileage worthwhile.DCIM100GOPRO

-Bennett

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