“Deserted” in Moab, UT

After my sunrise hike of Mesa Arch, I get back and wake up Dustyn so we can get a move on. We stop by Potash on our way to Moab so Dustyn can get another burn on Knapping with the Alien. Though the send eludes him again, he makes good progress — this time getting to the top. He grabs his bail biner from the day before and returns to Earth.

‘Swirly Hand’ taken in Moab

To our surprise, we find some Native American petroglyphs on the very walls we’re climbing. We study them for a while in curious fascination.

Eager to get out of the heat, we head back to our adopted home at Red Rock Bakery for smoothies and delicious veggie bagel sandwiches. I accidentally sabotage their internet and end up getting a free coffee for it. We hang out until they close in the afternoon, then decide to explore Arches National Park.

‘Three Wise Men’ taken in Arches National Park

The wild landscape continues to blow our minds. It feels like we’ve left Earth and have been transported to some distant desert planet. The heat of the afternoon is brutal so we keep the adventuring low-key, deciding to do a proper hike the following morning instead.

We drive back to town for an evening work session at the library. I’m not very productive; at this point in the day I’m crashing hard after a combined 7-8 hours of sleep over the past two nights. When the library closes I’m ready to go to sleep, but Dustyn wants to stay in town for a while longer. We reach a compromise: he’ll drop me off at the campsite and then go back into town for the night.

‘Actually, Let’s Turn Around’ taken in Moab

The spot of choice was a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) plot a ways down Potash. The further down we went, the more remote it became. We arrived to find a pullout that led to an even more secluded berm. Eager to test the 4×4 capabilites of The Buffalo, we begin to climb the steep rock road. About two-thirds of the way up, I decide to bail; the rocks scraping against each other underneath the car was far too unnerving. The pullout would serve just fine for the night.

We set up camp as quickly as possible while mosquitos swarmed every cubic inch of the air around us. Then I watch Dustyn drive away and my stomach drops as it hits me what a foolish move this could end up being.

I had no phone service, limited water, and no one else knew I was out here. The walk back to town would be seven hours, if it came to that. Too wired at this point to actually sleep, I cross my fingers that Dustyn would actually return and sing For What It’s Worth on repeat to keep myself company while savagely squashing all the mosquitos that had snuck into my tent.

After a couple hours Dustyn does indeed return, and I’ve never been more grateful to see him. I fall asleep and get a great night’s rest.

The next morning we catch another beautiful sunrise and embark on the short drive back to Arches. We arrive just as the parking lot is beginning to fill up and eat some day-old free bagels from Red Rock before hitting the trail.

‘Oh’ taken in Arches National Park

Despite the early morning heat, the trail teems with people. Barefoot, shirtless, and mildly claustrophobic I carefully blow past them to get to the top as quickly as I can.

Delicate Arch is the premier landmark of the Moab area (if not all of Utah) and it does not disappoint. We soak up the beautiful view for a while and make the trek back down.

‘Much Delicate Much Wow’ taken in Arches National Park

We coffee shop hopped again, Dustyn put in another burn on his project 5.12, and we found a spot to sleep outside Canyonlands.

I perpetually lose things; sometimes I find those things. I’d had several close calls with my phone and wallet already on this trip, but they always turned up. I don’t realize until later, but at some point at that sleeping spot my wallet must have fallen out of the car. It still remains to be found. Strangely, I’m not too bothered.

Well-rested and excited to be climbing earlier than usual, we get to Potash and set up by 7 AM. The conditions are just right; the air is cool by Moab standards and the mosquitos are nowhere to be seen. After three days of work, Dustyn has his beta dialed down and at this point just needs to execute. And he does — perfectly.

‘I Knapped With the Alien’ taken in Moab

He cruises through the campus start to the rest, pushes hard through the high crux, makes a handful of tough clips, and finally reaches the anchors. In unison we begin hooting and hollering in excitement. As we’re laughing our heads off, Moon rolls in to join the party after a three-and-a-half hour drive from Vail.

The fun goes on; Moon and I each jump on Knapping with the Alien on top-rope, eventually getting to the anchors after a couple of falls. Then we collectively move on over to the more casual Nervous in Suburbia (5.10a).

‘Dude, You’re Like the Beef God of Slab’ taken in Moab

I jump on and figure out the beta as I go, thankful for the slabby angle that allows me to take my time. I get the onsight after a handful of cryptic balancy moves.

‘Look Mom, No Hands’ taken in Moab

Moon is on deck next. The first bolt is high and precariously located, so I had stick-clipped the quickdraw and rope to start my ascent. But with the draw already in place for Moon’s redpoint burn and the rope pulled all the way back through, we find it difficult to stick-clip directly into the draw given the angle of the slab. Instead, we decide to protect the fall with crash pads. Moon boulders up and fearlessly gets the first clip, but wants to come back down to get his head right before climbing further.

‘The Tape Helps I Swear’ taken in Moab

We share in some roadside R&R, pointless pebble throwing, and toenail clipping. Ready to go again, he jumps back on with a clear mind and cruises it for the send.

Woke up in Canyonlands National Park.

Sleeping in Joe’s Valley, UT.

170 miles.

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