What: A quick overnight stay at the Dinosaur National Monument on the northwest border of Colorado/Utah
When: April 5th and 6th, 2014
Why: Took a road-trip to Utah to ski, took a detour on the way home. Good decision.
A little over three hours after skiing Snowbird resort in white-out conditions we arrived at the campground. Sunset happened immediately after we arrived and we snapped a few photos before it disappeared. We set-up camp for a nice early-April evening. The previous days were spent skiing decent late season snow in Park City and Snowbird for a late spring-break trip.
Split Mountain at sunset. Three minutes later and the light had completely disappeared.
Sunset facing the other direction:
Green River campground. The Cottonwood trees looked especially creepy with no leaves and a mostly full moon:
The next morning we got up and hiked around this beautiful area on the “Sounds of Silence” trail; a 3 mile loop it provided a great view of the geological insanity of the area. It was April and we started early so it was actually a bit chilly at first. Then we started climbing up a very unique trail that switch-backs along the bottom of the ravine I am standing in below. Parts of the hike you were completely surrounded by tall dirt “dunes”.
The top was worth the effort with Split Mountain looming over us:
After the hike we made our way to the Dinosaur Quarry visitor center. This is a 40ft tall wall of dinosaur bones that one guy randomly stumbled upon 100 years ago. Many of the fossils end-up in the Carnegie Museum, however what is left is quite amazing to look at:
This is a massive park and we only did the easiest part. Sounds like a good excuse to go back.
On the way home we were reminded that yes, it is still winter. Gore Range outside of Silverthorne, CO.
On a beautiful day in the middle of winter we found ourselves doing an Wedding Engagement Shoot at Roxborough State Park just outside of Denver. Caitlin was my assistant as we spent the morning under perfect blue skies with a nice snow backdrop.
Below are some of the highlights from Andrew and Whitney’s Engagement Shoot:
Of course this photo shoot was of our good friends Andrew and Whitney! So we had plenty of fun taking photos, goofing around, and trying not to fall off of cliffs.
Here are some of the other adventures we have been on with Andrew and Whitney:
- Mountain Biking and Wine-Touring in Fruita Colorado
- Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Adventure
- Additional photos from Cabo San Lucas
- Ice-Climbing In Ouray, Colorado
- Moab Adventure
- Various Parties:
Who: Caitlin and Andy
Where: Cuidad de Mexico
When: Thursday Evening thru Sunday Morning 1/16/2014 thru 1/19/2014
What: After an amazing adventure in the Mexican State of Chiapas we decided to lay-over in Mexico City since we had to fly through there on the way home. We were very glad that we decided to spend a few days exploring the art, museums, tacos, mezcal, and local culture in this vibrant city.
Regardless of our travel experience we are always a little cautious (and potentially nervous) when traveling to a large city as they tend to have reputations that smaller cities don’t just due to the physical size and news coverage. Horror stories tend to run-rampant and every person we talked to back home generally seems concerned that we surely will be abducted by cartels with our heads ending up on a spike near the border…
So stepping off the plane and preparing for our first taxi ride into the city was a bit scary, mostly due to the zealous stories of bad-traverlers. Luckily for us we found ourselves ten minutes off the plane with taxi tickets and sitting comfortably in a new Chevy Suburban hauling us to our hotel; another crisis diverted!
Mexico City blew away all of our expectations. This is a vibrant city that is like any other big-city but with it’s own Mexican flair. Full of art, history, food, neighborhoods, and activity on every corner and street in the city.
- Hotel Room Mate Valentine – great location, next to a bunch of loud gay bars in the Zona Rosa neighborhood
- Chapultepec Castle – Old Presidential palace now National History Museum
- Zoo – Free entry!
- Diego Riveria Murals
- Museo del Templo Mayor (Aztec Temple that Spanish built their cathedral over)
- Coyoacan Market
- Anthropology Museum
- Mezcal and Tacos in Condesa Neighborhood
This trip report will be a little different, above are the main attractions that we visited and below will just be a highlight of the interesting things we saw in this really cool city.
Our hotel, Room Mate Valentine, was located in the heart of Zona Rosa which we quickly found out is the center of Mexican gay culture. This was very obvious pulling into our hotel on a thursday night with the LGBT clubs blasting their music and great people watching everywhere. Regardless the area is perfectly located and Zona Rosa is relatively nice with plenty of art and pedestrian areas.
The Art of Mexico City:
Our first full day which happened to be a Friday started with a walk to Parque Chapultepec stopping first at the old presidential palace, Museo de Nacional, which has now been coveted into a museum of Mexican history. This large building was covered in murals depicting different struggles since the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. The commanding location of the building provided a great vantage point to see this section of the city.
The Chapultepec Castle overlooking the city:
As we headed back into the park as the street vendors began assembling, we made our way to the zoo. The zoo was fantastic with a large variety of animals including several panda bears. The best part is that the zoo was free making it more worthwhile. As the day grew late we attempted to enter the Anthropology museum which for reasons unknown was closed for the day. Instead we caught a taxi to near the Zocolo to view paintings by Diego Riveria. Another free museum (the Education Building) this place blew us away with floor to ceiling paintings depicting daily life, communist ideals, and class struggle. Two large courtyards three stories in height represented hundreds of murals that Diego painted over several years.
We wandered over to the central cathedral in mexico which is just as beautiful as anything caitlin or I have seen in Europe or other places. There happened to be an Mexico City Architecture museum that we wondered into for free which showcased the history of building in the city, always an interesting thing to learn about.
As the sunset started to happen we managed to stumble upon one of the tallest towers in the area Torre Latino and headed to the top to observe this geographically massive city. After drinking some Mezcal and enjoying one of the rooftop bars we headed back to the crazy streets of the city.
A dinner at a chinese spot (maybe not the best of decisions, but we had ate sooo many tacos at this point in the trip). Delicious churros at El Moro. Walked from the Zocolo to Zona Rosa which was a decent but doable walk. We ended our night relatively early since we walked some 12+ miles that day.
The Aztec and Meso-American History:
Another morning start we took the subway/metro which was right near our hotel to the Zocolo. Much to our delight we found the subway to be incredibly easy to navigate and considering a one way ride to anywhere is the equivalent of ~35 cents.
We started this beautiful morning at the ruins of Temple Mayor. Located within a stones throw of the cathedral this massive complex was only recently discovered in the late 70s as it was previously believed to have been demolished by the Spaniards. This was one of the more interesting ruin sites we visited as it was the central location of the Aztec empire. The temple has been mostly evacuated with layers of construction removed to expose earlier and smaller temples. the largest temple would have been very impressive standing at the height of the nearby catholic cathedral. After wandering through the ruins you enter a museum dedicates to the artifacts collected onsite and the history of the area.
Once done with Temple Mayor the weather was near perfect and as a result we headed down to Coyocan square where we saw another beautiful church, san juan bautista and spent some time shopping in a pleasant marketplace.
Being tight on time we finally headed over to the Anthropology museum where we were blown away by the amazing displays, history, and culture of meso-american people. We had only 4 hrs in the museum which was barely enough time to quickly move through the extensive displays. The layout of the building was such that you spend quite a bit of time I open air or outside exhibits.
The Aztec Calendar/Sun Stone is an impressive 24 Ton chunk of rock. Commonly believed to be the calendar tracking tool it has not been confirmed as such; amazingly it was buried and lost until 1790 when repairs on the Cathedral revealed it once more:
We finished our night in the nice neighborhood of Condesa where we had our only real nice sitdown dinner of the trip, a delicious Argentinian steakhouse called Patagonia. We followed that up by drinking Mezcal served with fried crickets and apple slices. Mezcal is a new found passion thanks to this trip.
An early morning walk and we headed to the airport and were given hard evidence of the crazy traffic of the city as the ride to our hotel on a thursday night at 7pm took 1 hr and 15 mins…the ride from the hotel to the airport on a sleepy sunday took 14 mins.
Behind the Scenes Instagram Gallery:
NOTE: This is part #1 of a two part Mexico Adventure. Read about the Mexico City adventure here (coming soon).
When: January 11th thru 16th, 2014
- The Magical City: San Cristobal de Las Casas
- Another Magical City: Chiapas de la Corzo
- Horse-back ride to the city of San Juan Chamula
- Mayan ruins of Chinkultic
- Camping at the Lagos of Montebello
- 1 hr in Guatemula
- 300 ft waterfall – Cascada El Chiflon
- 3 nights in a crazy hostel for $7.50 USD/night
- 5 hrs of Caving featuring rock climbing, rappelling, and cliff jumping at Correrado
- Rock Climbing limestone cliffs at Paredes de Copoya
- Endless Supply of Street Food and Happiness
oom!…..we flinch as another loud explosion surprises us with its proximity. The hard part is telling if it the originator is a firecracker or an old backfiring VW Bug. Considering the frequency of both in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas it doesn’t really matter.
Pictured below is the incredible city of San Cristobal De Las Casas right at sunset, situated at over 7,000ft:
It is the end of our first full day and we have situated ourselves at the top of the most prominent hill in the city predominately occupied by the elegant Guadalupe Church. This vantage point is excellent for the sunset but also highlights the cities many sounds, the most common being the unpredictable firework commonly thrown from rooftops, tossed in alleyways or lit off in the main square. Our attention is quickly directed back into soaking in the sunset just as the Sunday night catholic choir starts singing in the background.
The Colorful European Inspired street of”Real de Guadalupe” downtown San Cristobal de Las Casas:
Our first day set the pace for a furious six day trip into the wilds of the Mexican state of Chiapas. A trip interacting with the people living and surviving off of the jungle land, where we witnessed the junction of incredible wildlands with modern survival. A trip into the past and the similarities to the present.
San Cristobal De Las Casas:
Of all of the Mexican cities I have now spent time in (9 major cities), this is one of the most unique and by far the prettiest. Beautiful colonial style architecture with a mountainous jungle back-drop. The City is filled with numerous cafe-lined plazas, cobble-stoned streets full of food vendors, markets, and plenty of charm. Several times we found ourselves drinking cafe or cerveza and enjoying the sights and the common performance of jazz bands on any one of the major plazas. The Market in San Cristobal de Las Casas featuring the freshest food you can find such as recently plucked chickens awaiting the many charcoal grills:
Every meal in this city was amazing. Tacos were the specialty and it is hard to pass up “Al Pastor”, pork seared by flame and served with pineapple. Below at Tacos Del Meson the chef slaves over the heat of the grill while serving up our dinner (pineapple slice is in mid-air):
We took a horesback ride to the city of San Juan Chamula which is unique as the city is autonomous in many forms from the Mexican government. Most of this is due to the indigenous culture that lives there which is an interesting blend of Catholicism and Indigenous beliefs, as such the town doesn’t allow photography as it is believed photos rob their souls. The main church was enchanting as the dark space contains numerous saint figurines, the floors are covered with pine boughs and is filled with incense and candles. The horseback ride to the city was pretty through the countryside full of hard-working families. Lesly on her horse as we approach the city of San Juan Chamula:
Lagos De Montebello and Mayan Ruins of Chinkultic:
A long day’s drive and we finally got out to stretch our legs at the mayan ruins of Chinkultic. On the road in we made the biggest mistake of the trip by not picking up the 11 year old kid running alongside the car, corn bits and chocolate smeared on his face, trying to sell us his “guiding” services. Instead at the visitor center our selection of guides was a single toothless, middle-aged man who was a few days overdue for a shower; we respectfully declined his services and explored on our own. The ruins of Chinkultic are set high in an amazing valley surrounded by water and an elegant design. Ball courts and art with the original pigments are features in this off the path complex.
A Park Ranger sitting on the edge of the ruins that has a commanding view of the surrounding landscape:
At the end of the day we found ourselves at the lake we planned on camping at, the unexpected part was that the area you normally camp at was under water with the surrounding ground saturated. Caitlin and I scavenged for pine boughs to attempt to create a dry layer to set-our tent on (which worked quite well). We enjoyed a nice evening cooking on a campfire in solidarity on the lake.
The second day of exploring revealed these amazing Lakes:
Everyone in Mexico is Trying to Sell you Something (even building road bumps to slow you down long enough to run alongside your car), these girls were trying to sell us Catholic religion at the parking lot of one of the Lagos:
Food is always an important task while traveling and luckily for us there was an abundance of it everywhere. On the border of Guatemala we stuffed ourselves on chorizo and beans stuffed inside a corn patty while situated in a roadside shack just outside of the rain. As pointed out to us by the proud host was that the corn was directly from her small farm situated on the hill behind us. This older lady also explained to us the “reverse rainy season” where in the mountains (ie San Christobal de Las Casas) it was dry and the lowlands (border of Guatemala and our current location) was rainy. We sat enjoying a hot lunch out of the rain while this hard-working woman of Chiapas says a few words in passing to the ladies cooking our lunch:
Cascada El Chiflon:
After a cold morning exploring the Lagos we drove for a few hours to explore this waterfall park we read about. The single most amazing natural sight that we visited was the Bridal Veil Falls at Cascada El Chiflon. The hike in along the nicely paved path in the best organized park we had visited went something like this: parking lot, beer stand, waterfall, picnic areas, beer stand, water fall, water fall, zip-line, big-ass waterfall. Those beer stands were excellent on the way back!
Myself pictured below on the closest observation deck below Velo de Novia Falls (ie Bridal Veil falls) which felt like you were front-row in a car-wash with the speakers blaring:
We hiked to the top of the waterfall as well, which we found yet another waterfall!
Caving Trip to Correrado:
The path was coated in slippery mud as we pushed through the darkness. Every 10-15 mins we would encounter a obstacle that required us to rock-climb over, crawl under, or carefully traverse along with the limestone rocks coated in this thick mud making this not for the faint of heart. Of course we are deep in a ancient cave system where a river once flowed strong following a rare underground circular cave system. We were the only Americans in a group of ~12 with the others being from France, Germany, New Zealand, and Mexico with most being about our same age. Following a guide that Rambo knew from living in the city, we continued to climb-up this ancient underground waterway.
The course of events changed quickly once we rappelled into a massive underground cavern. At this point we joined up with the river and began a journey down the new underground waterway carved out by a more recent millennia of rushing water. Our first obstacle was tackled by the lone Frenchman in the group as he jumped off of a 15 ft waterfall into the dark pool below. I quickly followed to ward off the nervousness and upon splashing into the water realized this had just turned into a very fun adventure. The following several hours consisted of numerous cliff jumps (some in the range of ~40ft), rappel’s down slippery waterfalls, swimming under obstacles, shivering in the cold water, and more cliff jumps. At the large jumps we would cheer each other on and finally got the Mexican mother on the trip to take one of the larger plunges! One last rappel brought us down the final waterfall and into the mouth of the cave where we started. Exhausted, cold, and very happy with this surprise trip.
Climbing the Cliffs of Paredes de Copoya:
Our last day in Chiapas was spent climbing the wonderful sandstone cliffs outside the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez. We did some laps on routes, drank Indio, ate chips+beans+salsa, and enjoyed one last day outside.
Hiking into Paredes de Copoya we were presented with some beautiful forest:
Rambo showing us how it is done on the cliffs:
Chaipas is a beautiful place that warrants a potential spot on your list of adventures. Geographically it is spread-out, however the natural wonders of the land are quite amazing. Add in that the rock-climbing is just being established here (plenty of adventurous options) and that San Christobal de Las Casas is worth the visit by itself, and you have a deep cultural and adventure based destination.
When: Sat November 16th thru Tues November 19th, 2013
Where: Red Rocks Park just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada staying mainly at the Red Rocks Campground
What: A long weekend exploring and climbing in one incredible desert
Day #1: The Kraft Boulders:
An early Saturday morning arrival to Las Vegas had us out to the Kraft Boulders before mid-day and right as everyone else decided to show. Pulling into the parking lot we knew that it was going to be a busy day at the boulders which is understandable considering it’s proximity to the city, convenience of parking, and an simple access trail to the huge boulder field surrounding the base of the mountain. After checking out a few key boulders on our hike in we settled in at a isolated boulder in the Gateway Canyon section where we spent several hours exploring the area’s problems.
As the day quickly progress the shade quickly engulfed our location. We moved back around the bend to the main cluster and played around on many more boulders, met lots of people who were visiting like we were, and had Sasquatch occasionally bark at the roaming packs of pad-people. Additionally we encountered an large amount of an unique flower bush that I was lucky enough to document the many different species observed (link to picture).
Being in the desert this time of the year is a sensory overload. Direct sun with no breeze and it was 100 degrees, 10 mins later as the sun dips behind the peak you have to put on pants and a heavy jacket.
Day #2: Windy Peak Boulders:
Bumping down a dirt road for 20 mins is apparently all we needed to separate ourselves from the hustle and bustle of the previous day. After being around 50-70 climbers the day prior it was a relief to be the lone car parked at the trailhead for the Windy Peak boulders. A simple hike through amazing terrain found us at the Fish Head boulder. This 30 min hike was only slowed-down by the youngest dog in the group, Zion, as not having any idea what was causing all of that prickly pain.
Only a dog with the name of Beans would still be smiling during the process of ripping cactus thorns from his pads:
The Fish Head boulder is one of the most beautiful massive chunks of rock I have seen. Perched high on the hillside, it is easy to see from the parking lot and features a corridor of perfect climbs, perfect landings, and a great spot to hang-out in the sun.
Step inside the Fish Head boulder and one begins to see the true beauty. The climbing is a long wall of progressively taller problems ranging in the moderate grade. Overhanging these climbs is the upper mouth of the Fish head making for an impressive backdrop like none I have ever seen before.
The Starting Hold of Bait and Tackle, a perfect V1 with an incredible backdrop:
Chris sending Mas Mu (v6), a striking problem right in the middle of the corridor:
The winter days are short and we climbed as long and as late as our hunger allowed attempting to spend every possible minute absorbing this boulder-strewn valley.
Moving our way back to the car we stopped at the Sting boulder, moving again as the sun began to fade. We scoped the Le Cheval area for future missions and finished out the session in the moonless dark on the Warm-up boulder.
Hiking out the moon rose and lit the path through the thick and wild lands of the desert:
Day #3: Rest Day + Evening Session at Kraft + the Strip:
Monday morning we woke up pretty sore from the previous 2 full days of climbing, packed-up camp, and headed to a local Disc Golf course for some fun. Great little course that was perfect for stretching the muscles but not overly exerting yourself.
Just as the evening began to come upon us we headed back to the Kraft boulders, passing the crowds as they departed. A brief sunset singled as the last climbers left the area and we began our session. We climbed for 3 hours past sunset in solitude spending time on the Potato Chips boulder, the Warm-up Boulders, and the Barndoor boulder.
The Glow of Las Vegas as Chris sends the dynamic Dusty Coffee (v4) on the Barndoor boulder:
High-Fiving an awesome trip:
Three day’s climbing in the Red Rocks desert has really inspired me to make sure I come back and continue to explore.