Running Out The I-17

Cacti, Hot Dogs, and Scary Run-outs

We left Flagstaff and headed south along the I-17 toward Tucson. After spending 3 days in the Hobo Jungle of Flagstaff, it felt good to get traveling again. We flew down the highway, taking in the pleasant views Arizona has to offer, and drove past the bright lights of Phoenix. It wasn’t until later in the evening that we made it to Tucson, our home for the next 4 nights. The first night we spent with Devyn’s aunt Sammy and her husband Brian. We ate pizza and had good times. The next day we headed up to Mount Lemmon. The drive up was scenic with huge saguaro cacti and other unworldly desert plants. It wasn’t long until we reached high altitude and the trees turned into pine. We had just discovered Mt. Lemmon and didn’t know what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised to find this cool desert escape.

The little research we did on Mt. Lemmon gave us only a few hints on what we were in for, sharp granite and Yosemite-like climbing. The first day we aimed high and hopped straight onto a multi-pitch climb rated at 11B. It didn’t take long to realize we may have gotten in a little over our heads. We quickly retreated and spent the rest of the day figuring out what this place was about. We climbed a few single pitches and came to the conclusion that this place was a challenge, and we needed to take it down a notch. The next day we decided to try another, but easier, multi-pitch climb called Fort Stress. It went at a moderate grade of 5.9+. We were excited to find that it was still very challenging. It offered us a hairy amount of run-outs, a mid-climb rappel, a step-across and a nice top-out. We left Mount Lemmon feeling satisfied with the day and headed back down into Tucson to meet up with Aunt Sammy and Brian. They took us out to eat Sonoran Hot Dogs, which were as my Dad would say, “Out of this world”!  Then we headed over to a really cool place called Tap & Bottle  . They have 20 beers that rotate on tap and an endless amount of beers that were available for single-purchase. The Tap & Bottle was awesome and a perfect place to settle down and drink a few beers after our exciting times in Tucson. Thanks Aunt Sammy and Brian for the hospitality!

The best Sunset in the World

We left Tucson and headed back up the I-17 toward Flagstaff. We met up with Devyn’s dad, step-mom, and uncle who also happen to be driving through Arizona on their way to Oklahoma. They rented a neat cabin on the edge of town and were sweet enough to offer us to stay with them for a few days. We spent a day in Sedona and also visited for the first time, The Grand Canyon. Devyn’s dad, Jerry, found an incredible sunset hike for us to take in West Sedona. We hiked up to the top of a stunning mesa and looked down in awe upon the layered red rock landscape. I’m not sure if we could have been more lucky because just as we started hiking around the edge of the mesa, taking in the 360 view, the sky opened up and let down a dazzling rainbow. The remarkable views were absolutely unforgettable. We all watched the sun as it set beyond the desert horizon. Until I see one better, which may be impossible, that sunset stands as the best sunset my eyes have ever seen.

Off to Tejas

As much as we wanted to climb in Sedona, the temps were too high and the rain was falling too often. We agreed to return in the fall and made it a goal to climb one spire in particular, The Mace. Devyn and I said goodbye to Flagstaff and the family and drove off onto the I-40. We tried to stop in the Sandia Mountains but were put-off by a few factors and decided to keep driving onto Texas. We agreed on camping in Palo Duro Canyon for the night. The next day we explored the canyon for a bit and found a few boulders to play on. I was impressed by the huge tarantulas and giant stick bugs that crawled around. We left in the evening and started the long stretch back home to Keller, Texas. It felt really great to finally make it home. Adventuring around had felt very healing to my grief, but nothing felt as soothing as hugging my family.

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