The best places to roll out the sleeping bag, cook a meal, cuddle with your sweetie and gaze at the stars are rarely easy to get to. Rightly so. I'm a believer in the yin and the yang, that there must be a price to be paid when you want the ultimate campsite. One of these high ranking sites, in my book, is the oddly named Murphy Hogback camp found nearly dead center in the backcountry of southern Utah's Canyonlands National Park.It doesn't have much. Just three lonesome sites that share a pit toilet and no running water. Sounds like fun, doesn't it . . . ?
Before my wife became my wife, she gave me a backcountry permit for the Grand Canyon. So we spent a spring break with four friends camped on the Colorado River at Phantom Ranch. It was March 2001. Other friends who didn't join us hooked us up with some bulk dehydrated meals that they had stashed away years earlier in preparation for the Y2K bug that they were certain would collapse modern civilization on January 1, 2000. "Well," they laughed, "we don't need them now. Why don't you take them?"
They were big bags, too. Like the size of a giant bag of Tostitos, but 3 or 4 pounds apiece so they could feed 10 souls in one go. Despite the funky apocalyptic juju, we took the meals and left for the Grand Canyon . . .
On July 25, 2010 we used a half a roll of clear tape to fashion an absurd sign on four pieces of 8.5"x11" paper and Sharpie'd across it a giant "WELCOME ANIA" then sat around Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor Airport to wait for a flight to arrive from Washington D.C. that was delivering us a 15-year-old girl. That flight from D.C. was just a connection from Munich, which was just another connection from Kiev, and she'd gotten to Kiev on a five-hour train ride from her hometown. This hand made sign, and a small compressed-for-web head shot photograph were the only items we had that could connect us with Ania. So we stood there with that sign and waited.
It didn't take long. When we saw the young girl, her pale face, wide eyes and singular brown braid of hair displayed it all. She looked half frightened, thrilled and in disbelief all at once. We knew that was Ania. She knew it was us, and started laughing.
Heading back to camp in the remote Utah desert south of Canyonlands after a long, hot, dusty day that included aimless hiking and scrambling around centuries old Pueblo ruins, one of my adventure mates sighed and goes, "I could use a beer and a shower. The beer we have." But, you see, we were out in Beef Basin and not coming back to Moab for another three days. The shower and his special one-of-a-kind stink was going to have to wait — or so he believed.
This narrative from Arc'teryx follows a climber as he sets out to climb 35 pitches in a day (which ain't easy) on his 35th birthday, and reflects on all the things that make his life a beautiful one. And they're not all related to climbing, but universal: friends, family, hanging out with little kids, enjoying the company of a pretty woman, driving a dirt road, cooking camp coffee, swimming in a lake . . .