Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rifle Part 4

Elise won a chalk bag at the Rifle party on the weekend and tested it out for the first time at the base of the popular route Feline.

Here she is chomping at the bit to do the "climb" for a third time!

Here she is looking very comfortable. What the video doesn't show is the change in her demeanor on the way down. She does not like to be lowered on the rope for some reason.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rifle Part 3

We've had an interesting and eventful week at Rifle. The weather has gone from chilly to uncomfortably hot and showers are expected over the next few days. We've been swimming at the Rifle outdoor pool in the afternoons which Elise loves! She is really getting into diving and jumping and literally exhausts herself. Other activities from the week (remember to click on the photos for larger images):

We've tried to feed some horses on the farms around here, but no dice so far. The horses seem "suspicious" of our intentions.

We visited the local fish hatchery, which was a HUGE hit with Elise. She absolutely loved feeding the fish, which were all rainbow trout (some very large). When we threw the fish food into the tank the water literally foamed with flipping fish. We then took a tour of the indoor portion of the facility which had hundreds of thousands of fry. It was an interesting visit and Elise can't stop talking about it. Between this and our actual fishing in the creek, we think she's starting to develop some sort of obsession with fish.

We took a day trip to the famous ski area of Aspen, which is the US equivalent of Whistler in BC. We toured the town and then drove up a canyon for an afternoon hike in the meadows. The wildflowers were out and it was very pretty.

We continue to enjoy the climbing, although I had a setback the other day when I hurt my finger on my project climb. I've spent the last couple of days resting and hope the injury improves so it doesn't interfere with the remainder of our stay. This is a photo of the Anti-Phil wall at Rifle.

This is a photo of a climber on Hang 'em Higher at the Project Wall.

This is a photo of a local climber on "The Path" at the Arsenal.

We continue to enjoy the camping and have been having evening fires now that the weather has dried out a bit. Elise really likes the fires. The other night, she jumped up from her chair and started doing an incredibly funny and bizarre sideways shuffle/dance in the dirt. This reminded us of the famous Monty Python sketches revolving around "funny walks" and we immediately labeled it "Elise's funny walk" and told her so. We all had a good laugh and tried some different "funny walks".

Finally, we participated in Rifle's annual "clean-up day" where climbers gather and volunteer time to clean up garbage, build new trails and, in this case, bridges. Pam and I helped build a belay platform under a new climb and then watched the guys hoist logs into place for new bridges. In the evening, there was a party with food, music and movies, which we all enjoyed.

Funny Elise Story: During the outdoor movie portion of the evening, Elise took her little camp chair and went and sat with her "friends" (some kids she met at the party and was playing with). Pam and I thought this was interesting and sat with some other adults, but kept a close eye on Elise across the crowd. The movie started and there was a funny scene where a couple of climbers were on a dirt road miming the moves to a rock climb they had been practicing. As the climbers in the film contorted their bodies, waving arms and legs, Elise stood up and loudly proclaimed to the audience, "I have a funny walk, too! Want to see?" She then proceeded to do her bizarre sideways shuffle in the grass between the rows of seated climbers. Pam rushed over and sat her down and spoke to her about keeping quiet. We had a REALLY good laugh over that one!

Check back soon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rifle Part 2

Our first week at Rifle has gone well, although the climbing is proving to be more physical and challenging than I remembered! Here is a video we took yesterday of Elise "swinging" at the Project Wall. When I lower off my climb, the rope dangles quite a distance from the wall - perfect for a big "king swing", as Elise calls it. And don't worry - the rope is well-secured to the top of the cliff, Elise has a UIAA approved climbing harness and I'm belaying her with a proper device. It's all safe, despite how it looks!

Part 1: The preparation.

Part 2: The swing!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rifle Part 1

Well, we made it to Rifle! It was a long two days of driving, but we managed and Elise did very well (aside from one little meltdown). We spent a night in a motel in Boise and had a good rest. There was a pool so we went for a late night swim, which Elise loved. The next day we pressed onward and stopped at as many playgrounds as we could find. We were glad to get the drive over with...

We have set up camp in Rifle and started to get into a routine of camping, climbing and sightseeing. The canyon is world famous for climbing and it sits at 7000 feet in elevation so the nights are quite cool. We survived an incredible thunderstorm on our third night and spent the night in our van (not the tent) to ensure dryness. The weather looks good for the next week. Here are some photos (click on the picture for a larger image):

The scenery along the drive got more interesting as we entered the Utah and Colorado deserts. This picture was taken just outside of Grand Junction, Colorado, not too far from Moab (Arches, Canyonlands, etc).

This is one of the walls in the Rifle park canyon. It shows the orange streaked limestone. The canyon is in the sub-alpine with forests of spruce and pine.

Our campsite is nestled in the trees beside Rifle creek. It's a pretty spot close to lots of flowers and fish! We have raccoons that visit each night and we've learned to lock up our food bins in the van!

This is a sign in the town of Rifle, Colorado. The town has "redneck" undertones. Note the subject of the sign: A discount on alcohol will be given to all hunters. In other words, if you are going into the forest with a loaded weapon to shoot at anything that moves, we'd like to give you some cheap alcohol to "improve" your experience. Yikes!

The wildflowers here are incredible right now.

Elise was excited to try some climbing the other day. We rigged a short route for her beside the road and she impressed the other climbers with her gumption. She told one fellow she was going to climb a "route", which is climber jargon for doing a pitch of rock climbing. He thought that was funny!

One highlight of the trip so far was fishing in Rifle creek. We brought Elise's Dora the Explorer fishing rod and I went to Walmart and bought some tackle and worms. I haven't fished in 25 years, so this was a blast from the past. We drove around until we found a good spot in the creek and got set. Elise did well. I told her she had to be very quiet or she'd scare the fish so she whispered the entire time. I let her hold the rod, but did the majority of fishing myself. We thought we were going to be unsuccessful, but at the last minute, I hooked a small rainbow trout! I quickly handed the rod to Elise and grabbed my camera! She pulled it in and we took some pictures before letting the poor thing back into the creek. "Catch and release" - we had to explain this concept to Elise who wanted to eat the fish for dinner. More fishing to come...

Check back again soon!