Crag Dog Adventures in Utah

Here’s the problem with human companions: They come with too many variables. Ask someone, “Want to go out on an adventure?” and your response will inevitably be a “Yes, but _____.” There’s always something – yes but I have to work, or get my oil changed, or hang out with my boyfriend.

And here’s the thing about dogs: There are no buts. The answer is always “YES!” All it takes is one sniff of your backcountry gear piled by the doorway and they’re ready to hit the road ­– no matter what the adventure is.

Amble spent the first few months of her life traveling in a big yellow van, so she’s been groomed for a life of adventure since she was a pup. Nothing thrills her more than getting her paws dirty and sprinting like a torpedo through the outdoors. And you know, she might just love Utah wilderness as much as I do.IMG_8815IMG_8842

We sought out to hop around eastern Utah for a weekend with lady-friend Alex, with Joe’s Valley and Moab as our two destinations. I packed my climbing gear, Amble brought her freeze dried raw Merrick pet munchies, and we drove off into the mountains.

After a night spent folded like origami sleeping in my hatchback, the first stop of our mini-roadtrip was Joe’s Valley – one of my favorite places on earth. After exploring a few of my favorite boulders, the heat became unbearable, so we decided to drive back down country roads to a cluster of boulders we had noticed off a dirt road.IMG_8825IMG_8827

It look less than 30 seconds of peeking around the newfound boulder field to realize that we had just happened upon a sandstone goldmine. Rocks towering 30+ feet in to the air greeted us as we bumped down a very dusty forest road. I wanted to get closer to the field, so I coaxed my little hatchback further and further down the increasingly muddy road ­– and then it happened.

My tires started spinning, mud started flying, and my forward motion quickly ceased.

We were stuck.

Frankly, I was torn between pride and concern. I’ve always loved my little Scion for breaking the mold of adventure vehicles. It’s a city slicker, but my hatchback has traveled across the country a dozen times, navigates dirt roads like a champ, and always keeps me safe. The fact that it even took me to a place where I could get it stuck was a proud moment. And then I realized that didn’t exactly change the fact that I was stuck.

Alex and I quickly gathered as many big, flat stones as we could and wedged them under my tires. She pushed, I gave ‘er gas, and after a few attempts we freed ourselves from the mud. Defeated, we parked at a primitive campsite and walked the rest of the road to the boulders. Amble much preferred the walking over the driving.IMG_8819

I won’t say exactly where we were, because I’m selfish and want to go back there to scrub those dirty boulders until they resemble the beautiful lines they deserve to be. But the point is: these boulders are the real deal. While Amble investigated every inch of dry, cracked mud with her heeler nose, Alex and I set to work inspecting the rock faces and dreaming up boulder problems.DSC_0341 DSC_0326

Drained from the sun and stoked on our discovery, we retreated to the valley for another night crammed in my hatchback as rain pounded the desert outside. Left with soaked boulders, we ditched Joe’s Valley a few hours before sunrise and took off towards Moab.

Big Bend Boulders is one of the most convenient bouldering spots out west, if you ask me. It’s not the biggest, or the boldest – but it’s easy, sunny, and a great place to spend an afternoon. I showed Alex a few of my favorite lines, and we took turns flailing on projects and tossing sticks for Amble to chase.IMG_8861 DSC_0416DSC_0378DSC_0454

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Love Joe’s Valley? Speak up about it!

It’s no secret that Joe’s Valley is one of my favorite places on the planet. I could fill a book professing my love for the desert valleys, sharp sandstone boulders, cozy campsites, lazy river, and even the deer that love to jump out in front of cars at dusk. This spot is one of the greatest things to ever happen to bouldering – and now Joe’s Valley needs our help.

The Access Fund and SLCA are working with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service to address some of the impending big issues with the area (hello, poop in the river washes). There’s a lot of work to be done, but the first thing you can do to get involved is to write a letter to the BLM making your voice heard about the issues. Access Fund has a super simple letter writing tool to help you, but comments are due by March 1st!

Show your support for Joe’s Valley bouldering here.

Photo: Andy Wickstrom

Photo: Andy Wickstrom

I wrote a letter, which you can read below. It isn’t perfect, and it only took me about five minutes to write – but every voice matters here. It would break my heart to see Joe’s Valley turn into an overdeveloped, over-regulated area where I have to pay $20 to pitch my tent, and the only way to prevent that is to get involved.

First, thank you for taking the time to take the climbing community’s comment into consideration while assessing the land use at Joe’s Valley. I first visited the area during a yearlong climbing trip – and out of the many places I visited from coast to coast, Joe’s Valley remained my favorite. It is one of the most incredible places on the planet, and deserves to be treated as such.

While you are assessing the area, there are a few key issues that need to be addressed to ensure the valley’s longevity as a recreational hub:

The trails, camping areas, etc. need proper establishment/maintenance to reduce erosion and overuse of the surrounding areas (clear trails = less brush crushing!). However, while I fully support proper trail establishment and infrastructure improvements, I believe it is absolutely vital to the spirit of Joe’s to prevent overdevelopment. Human waste is a major issue in the valley, and proper waste facilities are crucial – but turning camping areas into expensive sites with running water and paved driveways would be a travesty to the wild attitude of this destination.

In the event that fees are collected for camping areas (which I believe is unnecessary pending the commitment of the climbing community to take full responsibility for the area and work to keep it sustainable), I believe that all fees collected should directly support the resources for which they are collected.

I have spent a lot of time in Orangeville and the surrounding towns, and truly believe that the climbing community drawn to Joe’s Valley makes positive economic contributions to the county. During a city clean-up day I volunteered at a few years ago, I was able to really connect with some of the locals and was moved by their great perspective on the climbers who frequent their small slice of Utah. Climbers have an indescribable connection to Joe’s Valley, the sandstone boulders, the dry landscape, the freshly baked donuts in town, and every moment spent out in the wilderness.

While I realize my comments may not directly lead to any actions, I want to express my interest in continuing to be a part of the conversation about Joe’s Valley. There is much work to be done to protect the future of this climbing area, but there is a strong force of climbers willing to stand behind Joe’s and make an impact.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Katie Boué

Being a climber is about more than just clawing your way up rocks – living this lifestyle also comes with a responsibility to the places where you play. As climbing gets bigger and bigger, it’s on our community to make sure we’re doing things right.

Getting older, getting weak, getting strong again – My Birthday Challenge Recap

Sometimes, the passage of time is a good thing – you become wiser, you get your shi*t together, and you figure yourself out. Sometimes, it’s not such a great thing – like when six months fly by and you can barely still call yourself a climber.

After falling out of love with climbing at the end of my yearlong road trip, I shifted my priorities around for a few months. Climbing took a backseat to other life “things” like moving to Colorado, freelancing, and hiking.

Before I knew it, my 26th birthday was approaching. I had been slowly dabbling back in my love affair with climbing, but with less than two weeks before my birthday, I decided to attempt whipping myself into shape for a proper birthday challenge with the lovely duo from The RV Project – who are going to turn this challenge in a kick-ass video for their birthday challenge series with EpicTV.

Making my return to Joe's Valley!

The challenge was to climb 26 v-points in each of the main areas at Joe’s Valley (78 v-points total) within 26 hours. After picking up two new pairs of Five Ten shoes at the Food Ranch, I started the challenge at 5:45 PM on Wednesday, October 15th.

After warming up at the Mine Cart area, I started getting into my challenge at the Riverside Boulders in the Left Fork. Confession: I had never climbed one of the most iconic lines at Joe’s Valley – The Angler (V2). It’s a little tall, and I always wussed out last year when I spent the season there. Oops.

I somehow managed to send The Angler first go, and immediately felt confident about my challenge. Maybe all that trad Jason Gebauer has been making me climb helped my mental game for bouldering!

Photo: The RV Project

Photo: The RV Project

The next morning, we got off to a fairly slow start (which will later come back to haunt me). I started the day on The Small Boulder, which was a goldmine of short, easy problems. After warming up and ticking off a large portion of my Right Fork points, we hiked over to a funky V5 called Blue Eyed. [Read more…]

#CouchToCrush: My 26th Birthday Climbing Challenge

My alarm was set for 6:00 AM, but by 5:43 I knew there was no point in trying to sleep any longer. I got dressed in the dark, caught a glimpse of my unwelcomed mouse roommate scurrying under my door, made a thermos of tea, and tossed my climbing gear into my hatchback before driving out to Denver Bouldering Club for a morning solo session.

You see, I’m in training mode. Big time.My new home sweet home, the Denver Bouldering Club.

Last year while I was living on the road, my dear friends Vikki and Spenser teamed up with EpicTV to start a climbing birthday challenge video project. So far, they’ve featured Alex Johnson and Carlo Traversi, with birthday videos from Alex Honnold, Steve Edwards, and Spenser’s own 30-day birthday challenge in the pipeline too.

So much in my life has changed since the day they sealed the deal and returned to our dirtbag camp declaring “We’re going to do your birthday challenge next October!” – but the promise of a radical week reuniting in Joe’s Valley to film me making a fool of myself on some boulders has brought it all full circle. I may not have my van anymore, but dammit, I’ll always have Joe’s!

So, what’s my birthday challenge?My 26th Birthday Challenge in Joe's Valley with The RV Project.

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That Time I Made a Cameo in a Climbing Video, But All I Did Was Eat Nutella and Apples

Shannon Joslin climbs A River Runs Through It at Joe's Valley while Niko and Spenser film her ascent.No, but seriously. My two friends, Spenser and Vikki, from The RV Project made a killer climbing video, and I’m totally in it – and all I do in my cameo is sit on a rock and stuff my face with Nutella and apples while everyone around me is cheering. Wow. But really, does this shock anyone even a little bit?

Here’s the story: You remember how Niko and I planned to visit Joe’s Valley in Utah for two weeks, and ended up staying for two months? Well, Spenser and Vikki totally instigated our long-term stay, and while we were there we helped them shoot a sweet project they filmed featuring our lady friends Shannon Joslin and Flannery Shay-Nemirow. These incredible women climb for La Sportiva and Five Ten (respectively), and wanted to do a head-to-head battle to see which climbing shoes are better.

It took weeks to film, and months to edit, but Spenser did an incredible job with the final product – it’s such a fun video. Niko and I are really proud to have had a small part in it – mostly Niko, who helped Spenser shoot a few scenes. We both make a cameo during the “A River Runs Through It” scene, and my La Sportiva Katanas get worn by Shannon in the “Self Service” segment. Awesome!

Check it out:

Those ladies know how to crush, amirite? They make those stout climbs look like a cake walk. Bonus points to Niko for his hilariously edited fist-pump. And then there’s me, just hangin’ out, stuffing my face like a total lard. And I wonder why I don’t climb V10 – it just might have something to do with all the Nutella. Sheesh.

Check out more from The RV Project on their Facebook page, and show ‘em some love on Twitter!

It’s finally here: a new Simply Adventure bouldering video, “Western Sandstone”

About 8 months ago, Niko and I made our first attempt at creating a climbing video. Armed with a homemade steady cam and as much patience as we could muster, we created this video about one of my all-time favorite boulder problems, Super Mario at Stone Fort in Tennessee. It wasn’t bad, but we quickly realized how much we had to learn about the process of putting together a quality video.

Fast-forward a bit, and Niko was determined to capture our experience climbing the stunning red rocks of the west. He lugged the tri-pod out to boulder fields, made me climb the same moves dozens of times to get the perfect shot, and slaved over the editing for weeks. We shot our favorite climbs at Joe’s Valley, Kraft Boulders in Red Rocks, and Moe’s Valley.

Note: Do yourself a favor, and watch this in HD at full-screen size to get the full effect! 

Without further adieu, enjoy:

For me, the best part of the video is the scene with me climbing Kill By Numbers. Not because I look pretty bad ass, but because of the story behind the climb. I had spent the better part of a week focusing on nothing but sending that rig. It tortured me, haunted me, destroyed my hamstrings, and beat me into a pulp. One morning, after two days of rest, I returned to the boulder determined to send it. Niko sat poised ready to film, and on my ‘warm-up’ attempt, I told him he should just start getting footage since I never wanted to climb that line again after the send. And then I day-flashed it. (And it’s all on film!)

I hope you all enjoy the video, and can’t wait to get to work editing new stuff to share with y’all. Let me know your thoughts, what you’d like to see more of, what we can improve on, etc. Thanks for the continuous love and support!

The end of an era: A bittersweet farewell to Joe’s Valley!

On our last night in Joe’s Valley, it rained. The canyons were hung thick with clouds, and the tops of some peaks were being dusted with snow. It cast a solemn tone on our departure – which was fitting for me as I finally bid farewell to this valley I had grown to adore so much.

We spent a total of 43 days over a nine-week period in Joe’s Valley, and in the last month we had knit a family unit that took up residence on the second pull-out in the left fork. Some stayed for the entire stint (or at least most of it), with folks like Spenser, Vikki, Adriana, Steven, Jeremy, and Randy becoming staples amongst our makeshift community. Others came and went, like Brad from Colorado and a flock of more than a dozen Floridian kids. Most days were spent climbing with the crew, and evenings saw us huddled around the impressive fireplace behind Vikki and Spenser’s trailer.

Niko on the iconic Angler problem at the riverside area in Joe's Valley.CP Santos finally crushes the Angler at Joe's Valley.

The final few weeks we spent in the valley are a blur of afternoons spent climbing by the riverside, discounted donuts from the Food Ranch, and lazy naps in the hammock. There are no new hard sends for me to report; I exhausted my list of projects, and lost the motivation to try-hard on any new ones. My laziness combined with multiple weekend trips out to Moab made it difficult to will myself to pull hard on anything.

Lounging in my ENO hammock at Joe's Valley.Pretty little things in Joe's Valley.

Perhaps the most memorable event of the last few weeks at Joe’s Valley was the bright Saturday morning when we teamed up with The RV Project, Steven, and Adriana to lend a hand during Orangeville’s annual city clean up. We figured it was the perfect opportunity to express a bit of gratitude to this small town for letting dirtbags live in their canyon and eat all their donuts.

My favorite moment was when the event organizer first laid eyes on us. One of the boys stepped forward and asked what we needed to do to get started, and the woman replied:

Oh, you’re here to help? I thought you just came to eat!

We all laughed, and quickly realized that our crew of six climbers nearly outnumbered the amount of town residents who had shown up. The morning was spent shoveling debris from the sidewalks, pulling stubborn weeds, and clearing out gutters. Our work was rewarded with a picnic at the neighborhood park, and the locals insisted that we take every single leftover with us back to camp. It was definitely a productive and positive day for climber and local relations.

The van worked real hard holding our rakes during the Orangeville city clean-up.The crew feasts on local treats after the clean-up.

Fast-forward a bit, and you’ll find us not in Joe’s Valley, but in Indian Creek. We took a quick weekend trip out to the Moab area to climb some cracks, fell in love with the creek, and then hastily returned to Orangeville one last time to retrieve the crash pads we had left behind at camp. As much as I had been clinging onto the comfort of our little Joe’s Valley nook, it finally felt like time to say goodbye to our little family and move on to the next chapter of our adventure.

The family.

The last evening in Joe’s Valley was spent huddled in the van with Vikki and Spenser. Rain had turned our campsite into a mud pit, and all the firewood was soaked – so we got cozy in the van and watched The Royal Tennenbaums while munching on kale and booze from Trader Joe’s.

Joe’s Valley has by far been my favorite experience of this trip so far. The people I met there, the idyllic bouldering, the town of Orangeville – this place is just perfect. I’m not quite sure when yet, but I will be back. In fact, this whole living in Joe’s Valley thing might be a yearly tradition.

The best problem at Joe’s Valley – that you’d probably never climbed – Cobra Con

Me on my new favorite problem in Joe's Valley, Cobra Con. For weeks, Steven Jeffrey kept name-dropping a V4 he was convinced I’d love. Initially, I thought he was just conning me into another supposed V-easy that’s really a V-hard (it’s happened before) – but he was right. This particular problem is called Cobra Con, and Steven was right: I love it. 

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Cobra Con is the best damn boulder problem in Joe’s Valley – at least of the V4 variety. Really, it’s that good.

If Cobra Con sat roadside like so many of the boulders in Joe’s Valley, I can guarantee it would constantly be swarmed with a flock of climbers. Strong folks would warm-up on it every day, and moderate climbers would aspire to become strong enough to send it. It would be slicked with shoe rubber, and caked with chalk. But instead, it’s tucked away on a lonesome hillside.

Getting to Cobra Con is no easy task, but thanks to the trails we built up to it, it’s much easier to find now. It is 100% worth the river crossing, uphill trek, and possibility of getting lost while trying to find it. Trust me. Just follow the cairns, edge your way around a big ‘ole boulder blocked by a prickly bush, haul your gear up the big wash, and behold.

You start on two enormous jug underclings, then throw up to the seemingly endless tufa feature that extends for nearly 20 feet of incredible roof climbing. And when you finally reach the end of this snaking sandstone, you’re greeted with a sustained yet totally manageable top-out. It’s everything I could ever ask for in a boulder climb.

Heel hooks, knee bars, no-hands rests – this climb has it all.
Jeremy Rush gets the party started on Cobra Con.

Adriana works the first moves on Cobra Con at Joe's Valley.

CP Santos takes a rest while working up the tufa on Cobra Con.

Adriana works out the top moves on Cobra Con.

Not convinced yet? Drive yourself out to Joe’s Valley, find Steven and Adriana in their sweet old Dolphin RV, and ask them to lead you up the hill to Cobra Con – then climb this route and remember, I told ya so.  

A peek into the grit and glory of climbing development at Joe’s Valley

For my entire climbing career, I’ve always walked up to boulders, examined the perfectly chalked holds, and climbed problems confident that the line was solid – and it always was. When presented with a perfectly developed bouldering area, why would one even stop to ponder the process that made these lines so clean, inviting, and often classic?

Niko on the river crossing before Steven built a sweet little bridge.

Niko on the river crossing before Steven built a sweet little bridge.

During my extended stint living in Joe’s Valley, I was blessed with the opportunity to assist in a bit of development of new areas. We met Steven Jeffrey, and his incredible girlfriend Adriana, who are currently knee-deep in the creation of a new (and vastly improved) Joe’s Valley guidebook. They invited us to accompany them while scouting out new boulder problems, and we eagerly obliged – then quickly learned involved a lot of wet river crossings, and hours where the fellas disappear for hours in search of new problems.

As a moderate climber, the first thing I noticed in Joe’s Valley is a distinct lack of super-easy warm-up feel-good problems. I was stoked for the opportunity to help establish some V1-4 problems to help even out the spread. The first thing I “first ascented” was a flakey V1 below Bring the Heatwole. I quickly learned that when you’re bagging the first summit of a boulder, everything is 10x scarier, no matter how easy the grade is. As I pulled up on flaked edges at the top, I kept re-assessing my feet and praying holds didn’t break.

My proud first ascent onsight was a V2-3 I named “Tree People.” It’s tucked around the corner from the entrance to the Eden area, aptly named because of the parted trees you have to climb through to complete the extended slab top-out. I continued my lesson on development during this climb, learning that the holds are sharper, the unknown condition of top-outs is slightly more daunting, and the thrill of being the first person to climb something is addicting.

Me on the first ascent of Tree People.

Me on the first ascent of Tree People at Joe’s Valley.

The majority of our feeble attempts at helping Steven and Adriana develop new boulders in the left fork of Joe’s Valley were spent across the river at Superhero Hill. Niko was particularly enthralled by the prospect of helping to establish new trails, especially after a heinous hike up to my favorite problem in Joe’s, Cobra Con (V4).

Before you can climb a boulder, you have to get there. I will forever appreciate the ease of established approaches after experiencing the before-and-after of a path to a boulder. On the first day, we trudged up a towering choss pile that sent waves of dirt and rocks tumbling down with every step. Adriana slipped into a thorny bush, and I twisted my ankle no less than 5 times. It wasn’t pretty.

A few days later, we hiked up the hill to find Steven and Adriana working on improving the trail. Armed with shovels, Niko and Steven sought up to flatten a landing while us ladies focused on building cairns, packing down the dirt on our new trail, and digging out a dirt mound to save a little tree from being trampled by climbers. It was tiring work, but nothing compared to the weeks Steven and Adriana have spent out here toiling to create accessibility on the steep hillsides surrounding the new areas.

Niko cleaning his new route at Joe’s Valley, GI Jane.

Niko’s effort to establish his new V3-4 , GI Jane, offers the best glimpse into what it takes to create a new boulder problem. He found the line one day while exploring with Steven, and was instantly infatuated with it. He rapelled from the top of the boulder armed with chalk and a brush, then set to work cleaning the holds. Scrubbing sand and broken bits from the pockets, feeling potential new holds, smacking their sides to make sure nothing would break – it was a tedious process.

His dedication to this line paid off when we brought a gaggle of climbers up to the hill to explore some of the new routes in the area. It was blatant that Niko was swelling with a bit of pride as he watched everyone take turns cruising up his new problem.

CP Santos going for the send on Niko's new problem, GI Jane.

CP Santos going for the send on Niko’s new problem, GI Jane.

And to think, we merely dipped our toes into the process. There’s a whole crew of folks who come out here every weekend and slave away at the seemingly endless task of establishing new areas. Holds are broken (sometimes in a violent manner that send the climber crashing to the ground), rocks are scrubbed, trails are plowed, and at the heart of it all, first ascents are proudly conquered.

Next time you hike up a nicely built trail to your new bouldering project, don’t forget to reflect on all the hard work, dedication, and relentless passion that made your climb possible. I’ll never experience bouldering the same way again. Huge amounts of gratitude, love, and appreciation are due to all those folks who are constantly out developing in Joe’s Valley (and across the country).

New climbing companions, Niko’s first ascent, and deciding to return to Joe’s Valley

Last week, the tribe I had been traveling with for the past few weeks finally disbanded. Our two main companions, Zach and Emily, drove back home to Minnesota, and the rest of the crew headed off to other climbing areas like Bishop and Red Rocks. We had planned to hightail it out to Moab on Friday morning, but ended up forced to stay in town until I sent my nemesis climbing project, Kill By Numbers – and I’m so glad it took me so long to finish that boulder problem.

While moping around the Food Ranch, I happened to meet a charming lady who mentioned working on a blog post. Naturally, I asked what the name of her blog was, and it turned out that she’s half of the two-climber team that runs The RV Project. I told them we were planning to head out of town the next morning after sending Kill By Numbers, but wished them good travels in Joe’s.

The following day, I gave my all on an early attempt of Kill By Numbers, which was a horrible failure with me unable to even lift myself off the first move. Defeated, I retreated to the Food Ranch once again – and opened my e-mails to find one from Spenser, the other half of The RV Project. It basically said, “Love your blog, wish you were still in town so we could invite you to our campfire.”

And I wrote back, “Well, as it happens, we’re still in town.” A few more correspondences were exchanged, and suddenly we found ourselves huddled around a fire with strangers who would become family overnight. We made plans to climb together the next day, and it wasn’t very long before Vikki and Spenser convinced us to just come back to Joe’s Valley after our trip to go climbing in Moab with a few old buddies. We awoke the next day with a reinvigorated passion for the valley, which was amplified by the great vibes we got from climbing with Spenser, Vikki, and their buddy Will.

Spenser climbing Save Yourself (V9) in Joe's Valley.Will works the beta on Eden (V9) in Joe's Valley.

I spent the day working Kelly’s Arete (V5) with Vikki and two other super strong gals while Niko and Spenser hopped around the boulders shooting photos. It was so inspiring to enjoy an all-ladies bouldering session – there’s something special about sharing beta, cheers, and promises of a send train.

One of my newfound lady friends crushes Kelly's Arete (V5) in Joe's Valley.

Finally, the moment came for me to send Kill By Numbers the following morning – and by some miracle of climbing, I crushed it on my first attempt. A celebration of PBR and “oreo dessert” from the Food Ranch quickly followed as I moved on to watch the fellas climb a few projects, including a never-climbed line scoped out by Steven Jeffery, who is working on a new Joe’s Valley guidebook.

Niko works the first moves on his still-unnamed first ascent of a V7.

Niko spent about an hour working out the beta for the first moves, which involves a strong, stretchy crank up to a sloping pocket from an overhanging ledge. He quickly solved the sequence, and eventually found himself on the tall bulge top-out. As he pushed his body upwards, he started uttering one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard him say while climbing:

Niko delicately manuevering the top-out of his V7 first ascent.

 

 

“Please don’t break,
please don’t break,
please don’t break.

 

 

I guess that’s the price you pay for snagging a first ascent. Fortunately, none of the sandy  he was pulling on broke, and Niko proudly claimed the first ascent of the problem, which he gave a V7 grade. He hasn’t given the problem an official name, but we’re toying with the idea of “Oreo Dessert” to pay homage to one of the Food Ranch’s finer delicacies.

After a few more campfires fueled by booze, a bout of nasty weather, and a dip in the local pool, Niko and I finally willed ourselves to leave our little Joe’s Valley home for a few days to go explore in Moab – but one thing is for sure: we’ll be back.