Greetings ever'body,

As many of you know, and many more probably don't/didn't, I took a little vacation out to Utah for a bit over a week last week (4/13 - 4/22). What follows is a long, drawn-out, boring, sleepytime, print-it-out-and-bring-it- to-the-bathroom reading - you know, my usual trip report adventures . A lotta days were covered, and not very much climbing occured (in fact, only four days had any climbing in them at all).

Okay? Still reading?? Alright...

Thus forewarned and forearmed, I present to you, for your reading pleasure:

                                INDIANA MARK
                            THE ANASAZI ADVENTURE

                      Base on a Real Life Adventure (tm)
                      Written by (well, you know who!)

Starring: Guest Appearances by: [due to the length, this will come in two parts; Part 2 will arrive later....when I get time to finish it :-/ ]


A couple months ago Prueheart and Indy discussed a potential desert adventure to unexplored regions of southern Utah. It would offer a number of aspects for fun and good times: canyons to explore, buttes and mesas to ride up, cliffs to climb (important!), and the alien (for East Coasters and Mid-Westerners) desert enviroments to poke around in. As time went on, the plans firmed up. Other people were added to the group, and at one point there were nearly 10 or so potential people to attend this outing! But reality, time, and illnesses played their roles of attrition, and only 6 people would end up going. But this was not known at the time. Indy approached The Boss(es), informing them that the moon would be aligning properly during these particular dates in April, and that he must head out yet once again to track down clues to the whereabouts of the ever-so-elusive Ark. The Boss(es) protested, but this quest is firm, and long-lasting, and Indy made arrangements to meet with the Prueheart and the Baby Girl in St Louis, and the three would then quickly journey to Utah and hook up with the remaining members of the expedition.

Then, several weeks before the scheduled departure date for this adventure, Indy's car developed a coolant leak and a warp core breach! Indy was now transportationless, and had to find a way to get to DC to catch his flight on the morning of the 14th! Oh, the pickle that life had thrown him.

Then, by fortuitous chance, Indy's trusty and faithful Colorado Sherpas, Daryl and Jeff, known to Indy from their college days, alerted Indy (via electronic medium) that they would by happenstance be in DC during the week of the 10th! And they wanted to get together with Indy on the 13th. 'Hmmmm!' thought Indy, 'This could work out perfectly!'

Plans were quickly made. The Sherpas would come to DC, deal with targeting computer games (they had developed some fancy games and the Navy wanted to play them - not like they didn't have ships to sail and stuff, but Indy doesn't know nuthin' 'bout how the Navy works), then collect Indy and his gear (all of it!), find some Maryland Crabs, eat/chow/munch heavily, then return to DC with Indy in tow. Then the morning of the 14th Indy would head to Dulles Airport (hoping that Bruce Willis didn't decide to do a retake of Die Hard 2) and be on his way West.

Thus the plans were made. Thus the plans were basically followed.

On April 13th the Colorado Sherpas took a trip up to Aberdeen Proving Grounds to play with tanks (fortunately for Baltimorons, and unfortunately for everyone else, they restrained themselves from actually taking them out onto the highway and removing some of the larger traffic offenders). Then they swung by Indy's rather humble (if now messier than ever) abode. From there the trio stopped off at Indy's Place Of Work one last time, to check and make sure that the Hubble Troublescope was not acting up (and to get directions to The Best Maryland Crab House In Town). the Crab House! (Gunnings) The Sherpas were most pleased with the choice, and feasted happily on bushels and bushels of crabs (Indy, prefering not to fight so much with his food, sat back, ate cakes, and watched in amusement). After the Sherpas satiated themselves on crabs (and leaving carnage everywhere), the trio retired to DC and the Sherpa Hotel Room (fancy place).

The next morning the three dashed off to breakfast, then the Sherpas and Indy piled into the Sherpa Mobile (with ALL of Indy's gear!), and whisked off to Dulles Airport. Upon arrival the Sherpa Driver decided to do a quick 1-lap run around the airport parking area before both Sherpas tossed Indy (with ALL his gear!) out on the sidewalk. As they drove away Indy heard Sherpa Passenger call out, "Have fun storming the castle!"

Indy looked at the rapidly fading vehicle. "It'll take a miracle," he muttered.

Picking up his gear (ALL of it - UGH!), Indy hustled over, checked in, checked his gear (all of it - which, by the way, consisted of 1 pack with ALL his climbing gear, two ropes, and a stretch of static line, 1 pack full of camping gear and clothes, a camera bag complete with cameras, lenses, and film, and a bookbag/daypack with misc items, including some class notes Indy needed to recopy and study during the trip), and then....onto the plane!

An uneventful flight followed.

Arriving in St Louis Indy moved quickly to the next gate and waited to meet up once again with the Prueheart and to meet for the first time The Baby Girl. Finally, being late due to other events outside of her control, the Prueheart arrived - minutes before boarding started. She rounded up The Baby Girl, and the newly-formed trio climbed aboard the plane and headed Utah.

Another pretty uneventful flight followed (except for when Prueheart decided to start climbing and walking all over the seats in the plane; Indy sought his bullwhip, but failing to find that, was forced to dig into the cargo area, retrieve one of his ropes, and tie her down for a while until she regained civil control once again; also Prueheart and Baby Girl decided that Indy was in need of some harassment, just so he didn't think himself 'free' from everyone at work). Prueheart also announced that Steve, the One Who Was To Guide Us Through Unknown Desert Wilderness, had come down sick with the flu, and would not be joining us. Ergo, we would not necessarily be going where the original plans intended. Indy was bummed.

Upon arrival to Salt Lake City Airport Indy met the rest of the members of the expedition (who hadn't fallen ill and could still go): Mr and Mrs Howard, the Keepers of the Wilderness Cafe, and Leland Howard, brother to Prueheart, and professional photographer (really, he does real nice work!). Everyone gathered the gear from the plane (including ALL of Indy's) and the two pickup camper trucks were loaded up (at this point Indy was introduced to Tempest, german shepherd companion of Leland, with major puppy outlooks on life!). Indy travelled with Leland in the Traveling Photo Mobile while the rest of the group piled into the Wilderness Cafe vehicle (which, btw, was also hauling a trailer with 2 4-wheelers and 2 dirtbikes; would Indy get a chance to MAYBE ride a motorbike once again?? Only time would tell...)

Departure from Salt Lake Airport was quick and smooth (though the photomobile got lost temporarily in the parking lot when the 'exit' kept moving away). Leaving the Salt Lake region Indy was mildly surprised to see that apparently many Maryland drivers had moved out to Utah/Salt Lake and were on the road.

Either that, or they were Nazi Drivers, out to plague Indy once again. <sigh>

The crew gathered some supplies north of Provo after passing access to American Fork Canyon (so THAT'S where it's at!!), then stopped for dinner. After that, the group departed from Highway Travel and headed southeast, up into, and through the mountains. They paused briefly for a break near sunset (and to let Tempest have a run). Indy noticed and tried to point out the cosmic alignments that were at that moment manifesting themselves in the sky: sundogs, 'standard' halo, and a more unusual, rarely seen, perpendicular halo (the sundogs were rainbow patches of light located to either side of the sun, the 'standard' halo encircled the sun and went through the sundogs, and the perpendicular halo emanated from the sundogs and went around the sky at the same height the sun was above the horizon, connecting back up with the second sundog). No one was terribly interested. After all, it was chilly and windy out, and other than these phenomena, the sky was kinda blase' in colors and clouds. Plus most were more interested in taking care of other business that needed attending to in the field. Once this was accomplished, the group piled into the trucks once again and zoomed on their way.

On into the evening they traveled. Finally, they reached Goblin Valley State Park and tried to find a place to camp. Unfortunately, this was Easter Weekend, and the Nazi Campers had gotten there ahead of Indy and crew. Argh! Ultimately a place was found, but it was very sandy, and setting up tents in this stuff required new tricks, as Prueheart and Baby Girl discovered. Indy slept in the photomobile camper.

April 15th. The group awoke to an overcast sky, and chilly morning. To be expected in the desert. Mrs Howard had opened the Wilderness Cafe for business, and a wonderous breakfast was had by all.

After a quick packing job, the crew headed out. Unfortunately they didn't get very far; Mr Howard's trailer carrying the various off-road vehicles developed a flat. They stopped, quickly changed it, then continued on. On to... Hanksville!

Hanksville is this small little desert town at the corner of 24 and 95. It sees much tourist traffic. And Indy and crew were next. They stopped here to check on getting the flat tire fixed. It was possible; there was a mechanic in town who could do such things. So while waiting, the bulk of the crew sauntered off to investigate a metallic dinosaur jungle just down the road. Indy stayed behind to consult with The Force about possible Weather God activities, but the desert climate and odd electromagnetic interferences in the area prevented a clear reading. Indy put the book away.

Once the tire was fixed, the group was once again on the move. Down to Lake Powell, and then away again. Wonderous landscapes and sandstone erosion canyons could be seen all around. Finally the group left the Glen Echo area. Leland had a plan: he wanted to go see this section of White Canyon called 'The Black Hole'. Apparently it is supposed to be one of the more difficult canyoneering slots around, with a 'no exit situation' (ie, once you enter and go any significant distance, you are stuck and must continue through to the end). It is also one of the more dangerous ones due to this (Leland was warned by his informant that if he saw a cloud in the sky, do not do it! water fills the slot rapidly and shoots through there like a laser and whatnot; this is Bad(tm) for the human body).

A quick study of the terrain and the topo map, and the group found the pull-off. Dismounting from their vehicles, Indy, Leland, Prueheart, and Krystl went off to do initial reconnoitering of the canyon. Mrs Howard opened the Wilderness Cafe for business. The scouting group returned, discussed what they found, and went back out again after lunch. That's when they found a trail down into the canyon (Indy was looking for ways to rap in and easy climbs out). The group followed this partway, then decided to return to the campers and gear up (Indy brought the length of static line, harnesses, and anchors in case the group found a short drop that had to be negotiated/rappelled). Then...down into the canyon they went! There was water in this canyon; this made it a good bet that the elusive Ark Indy has been seeking could be found. Or at least, he could find clues or something to it's location.

The group wandered into the vast canyon, marveling at the sights it presented them. The Krystl discovered the first bit of treasure: a fairly massive (~20 lbs?) chunk of petrified wood, propped up on a boulder for passersby to see. Wow; nice piece! Indy looked it over, then started checking out the canyon walls, looking for routes to climb (incorrigible climber). The mostly featureless and shear walls didn't hold a lot of promise. Onward the group pressed.

Soon it became apparent that the piece of petrified wood they found earlier was not wholly unique to this canyon: every 50 or so feet someone in the group found a piece of petrified wood - though usually no larger than a hand or fist. Incredible! Some were really nice pieces, too. The group collected a few of these treasures here and there. Leland also found a nice spot and played with some pics. Then onward and further down into the canyon the group pressed.

Soon they were presented with a dilemma: the walls of the canyon narrowed from nearly 50-100' wide to 20' and less. Water filled the entire passage before them. They tried to skirt around on a high shelf, but were stopped by an exposed traverse. Hmmm! Could they get around this narrowing? Only one way to tell: Indy had to do the traverse. So he unlimbered he gear (what little he brought, which wasn't much!), roped up, and Prueheart put him on belay (with a static line, this was not much fun for her). Indy started towards where the shelf narrowed and the traverse began. Dramatic music began to fill the canyon, echoing off the walls around them. Everyone paused, and looked about for the source of the music. Which suddenly stopped. Indy entered the traverse, placing sparse pro as he could find. A nut here, a tri-cam there....and he was across. It was easier than it looked, but a fall was still not to be fun: 20+ feet down to the water below (and it was not entirely that deep, either). Indy was on another shelf. He brought Prueheart across (instructing her to leave the gear in place for their return trip), and then the two scouted further ahead (after she was over and unroped) to see if there was a way down/around.

There wasn't. It was quickly becoming apparent that this was the slot they sought. The Black Hole. Hrm...what to do.

As it was getting late in the day, and there were a fair number of dark clouds around, and becauseThe Black Hole was a commiting venture, AND because the group did not have fully adequate gear for this (wetsuits would be nice), they decided this would be a good place to stop and turn around. Thunder then echoed through the canyons. Yep, good time to now leave.

The return trip up the canyon was uneventful until they came to the spur 'canyon' where the trail to the top entered. Leland and Prueheart, ahead, noticed that the water in the main canyon was rising. Hmmm! Time to go.

Scampering up to the top of the canyon (pausing to attempt a Leland photo shoot) the group could see dark, ominous clouds with rain and thunder all around: the Weather God was stomping, obviously searching for Indy's location. The wind picked up as the group beat feet back to the campers.

From there the group departed, heading up the road further for a place to camp. They eventually came to a place called 'Gravel Crossing', which was a 4-wheel drive dirt road that crossed down into the canyon, over, and up the other side. They manuevered the vehicles through this terrain, and found a place to camp. It was getting quite late; the sun was down. After dinner everyone pretty much went to bed. Indy decided for ease to sleep in the camper again; fuss with the tent in the morning.

April 16. Happy Easter! Leland was very sick. Symptons akin to the flu. Ugh! And Indy slept in the same camper. He hoped his being sick with the flu earlier this year would enable him to fend off whatever Leland caught.

Everyone else feasted in the Wilderness Cafe, then Mrs Howard, Prueheart, Krystl, and Indy took off on the 4-wheelers and dirt bike (Indy was on the dirt bike, naturally ;). They explored the dirt 4-wheeler road for a while, then the rest of the countryside (when the 'road' to the south disappeared), seeking out anything they could find. It was a windy day. Very windy, but this didn't deter the intrepid crew. Prueheart eventually led the gang through a pass, and thry discovered an old graveyard of abandoned vehicles - 40s and 50s vintage! Shot full of holes. Bullet holes. Most obviously this was work of the nefarious Nazis against earlier adventurers of that time period during previous attempts at tracking down the Ark. The crew explored the area, seeking clues to whatever they could find. After a bit of poking around, the intrepid adventurers collected a couple of artifact/ treasures (Indy took a yellow, plastic fork he found and placed it in the dirt road - yuk, yuk! ;), and once again mounted their mechanized transportations and continued to explore an old mining road that went up the side of a nearby bluff/mesa. They were halted at a totally eroded section of road. Prueheart had the skill to get by, but no one else did at this juncture. A decision was called to return to camp.

Besides, it was getting on lunchtime! :-) :-)

Upon returning to camp, the adventuring contingent discovered to their dismay that the Prueheart tent had nearly blown away! Big Wind indeed! It took a bit of time to reset it and put more rocks down on the stakes to help hold the tent down, but finally it was done. Prueheart looked happy once again (though not with the task of straightening up the belongings her and Krystl still had in the tent that had gotten....mixed together).

The afternoon was sunny, but cool and still very windy. Leland was still sleeping, and Prueheart, Krystl, and Indy wanted to do some climbing. So Indy got out The Gear, loaded one of the 4-wheelers, and the trio took off to some nearby cliffs Indy has spotted when they all first entered this area the day before: the lip of the canyon offered some potential climbing possibilities (if somewhat short: 20' or so). There was a nice, wide belay ledge below, so all Indy needed to do was make sure he could secure some t-r anchors. The trio arrived at the cliffs and explored the bottom, trying to decide where they should practice their vertical skills. Krystl had never climbed before, and Prueheart has been out a few times only (not counting the local gym in her town). So Indy dropped a rope down a corner crack that looked as if it had some potential, and anchored to a few tree-bushes that, after much testing, were not going anywhere!

The first climb was up a moderate corner with a crack starting 1/3 of the way up. Indy went first (at the vote of the ladies) and broke off the big handhold at the start of the climb (good going!). He then made his way up to the crack, balancing delicately on sandstone that had a tendency to crumble beneath hands/feet, and made it to the crack. From there it was a quick hand- jam up to the top! Indy was happy; been a while since he's had a good handjam crack to climb (and, being the manly man Indy is, no tape req'd). After Indy was down, it was Prueheart's turn. Indy had pretty much cleaned away all the loose flakes, handholds, etc on his way up, so the holds that remained were pretty secure. Lynna found an alternate, easier start to the climb (naturally) and shimmied up to the crack (where she decided she wasn't real happy with it, mainly because of her limited exposure to crack climbing). Once she was up, and back down, Krystl was fitted with a harness and re-instructed about the basics. Then she went up. Did a fine job; you'd've thought the Baby Girl from New York had climbed before or something. The Indy went back up to check out on of the face variations, and ended up on crumbly sandstone, pretty far from his t-r anchors. No falls allowed! He delicately moved over the disintegrating stone and back to the corner. And with a sigh of relief, down once again.

The trio then moved the rope/anchors up canyon a ways to another area. This was more face/pockets; no cracks or corners. Tons of pockets, mostly finger-sized or smaller, though. A few larger-than-head-sized here and there. A quick set-up of the anchors (the trees are far back from the lip of the canyon, but with sufficient lengths of webbing - which Indy had in All His Gear - this was not a problem). Indy, again at the vote of the ladies, went up first (Indy was akin to a minesweeper here: had to go first to clear all the loose stuff so the rest could climb in relative safety :). The wind was ferocious while they climbed, but not bad enough to knock any of them off. Each did a couple of 'laps' up and down the pocket-featured face, then they ended for the day. It was getting late, and, heck, almost dinnertime! A quick dismantle of the anchors, the group headed back to camp.

To find Prueheart's tent blown halfway to Kingdom Come again!

Another trial of resetting the tent (in the blowing wind), then Indy set up his own tent (lower profile than The Prue Tent, so should be less-prone to Weather God huffings), and then...dinner! Yummmm....the Wilderness Cafe is something you have to experience; it is hard to adequately describe good home-cooking when one is out in the field.

The night was clear and pristine (if still windy), and the stars, as the sun set and the late afternoon clouds cleared off, came out with a brilliance not seen on the East Coast. For a short while Indy remained up after everyone had retired for the evening, watching the wonders above. Multitude of satellites, a planet, tons o'stars, and even a meteor, were all seen. Then, the wind unabated, the Weather God sent the clouds in as the moon rose. Indy retired for the evening.

April 17. The night was quite blustery and cold. At times Indy wondered if his tent would collapse, and definitely wondered if the Prueheart Tent was still standing. Sleep was something that came in fits and starts due to the wind. Then....shortly before sunrise.....pitterpatter, pitterpatter, pitterpatter.

It began to lightly rain. Yep, the Weather God finally got a fix on Indy's position. Within an hour, as the members of the expedition stirred and emerged from their respective sleeping compartments (Leland remained in his, feeling unwell still :( ), the rain changed to sleet, and then snow. By the end of breakfast the ground for miles around was now white. Indy listened as he heard the Weather God laugh...

Prueheart, Krystl, and Indy decided that rather be couped up in the campers or tents, a walk was in order. On such a fine (if white) spring morning (it was still snow-raining). Tempest decided that the group needed overseeing and went along, to make sure no trouble befell them.

The trio walked northward, and explored the rim of White Canyon for a while. After spending some time here (and finding more petrified treasure - "I got a rock!" calls out Indy), the group headed up the road again towards the abandoned vehicles they discovered yesterday. Prueheart and Baby Girl decided with the (now-disappearing snow as the temps warmed to the upper 30s and lower 40s) the decoration of a tree with various auto parts was in order. Thus came into being The Art Project.

Prueheart later told Indy, who had been watching, that this was actually a low-tech communications device that she uses to contact her minions who were at that moment busy keeping the Nazi Drivers from locating the group (who had their hands full with the Weather God).

Once the device was constructed, and the mandatory photographs were taken for purposes of designing duplicate devices on other worlds, the group headed back, escorted by the ever-vigilant (but getting real tired) Tempest.

Return to camp found lunch waiting. Foooooood!!! And the rain continued. After lunch, Mrs Howard, Prueheart, Baby Girl, and Indy played a few games of Scrabble (Indy always drew the 'R' - "I got a Rock" - letter when determining who went first). Each game Indy was trounced soundly. Indy needs to get out of his world of acronyms for a while...

The afternoon was looking just as bleak and dreary as the morning - low, overcast skies, rain, etc, etc. No snow; too warm now for that. Prueheart and Baby Girl decided on another walk; Indy decided he wanted to see just how far the road that disappeared on them went, and if they perhaps just missed a turnoff somewhere. As it turned out, the Prueheart/Baby Girl destination was similar to Indy's, though they split ways at a wash for a while (Indy continued hoofing it x-country, the ladies taking the lower, but easier walking, route up the wash). Indy made his way around the stiff, bristle-brush like plants/bushes he encountered along the way (good thing for jeans), and headed towards the rock formation called Jacob's Chair. Granted, Indy knew that the canyon he was entering was closed, and he would not reach Jacob's Chair this way, but one of the side walls sported an impressive arch that could be seen at a distance.

Indy entered into the box canyon, and discovered more petrified treasures laying around. Looking around at the rising walls he attempted to identify avenues of ascent (being the climber he is), but the sandstone walls were pretty sparse, and those with features sported crumbly holds and wide, wide, wide cracks. "Why do they have to all be offwidths..." moaned Indy.

He then made his way out and around to the huge arch, to discover Prueheart and the Baby Girl already there. And then, to his amazement, the arch turned out to be a natural bridge! Just that the wall behind hadn't worn away yet (and likely wouldn't for a few millenia). Prueheart indicated interest in finding an avenue of ascent to get up to the top and walk across it. She had already scouted out a potential route that Indy would lead for her. Indy looked at it. The crack got awful damn wide up there. "Why does it have to be an offwidth?" sighed Indy.

Fortunately for Indy, he didn't have his gear along (plus it was wet; wet sandstone is a Bad Thing to climb on out West). So after one last look at the arch and potential climb, the trio returned to camp. The clouds were beginning to break, and peeks of the sun filtered down.

Back at camp Leland was up, about, and even breathing. After having something to eat, he sauntered off with Tempest to grab some desert evening/sunset photos. The rest gathered around the campfire and discussed potential ideas for the morrow ('doing the bridge' was foremost on this list).

[thus endeth part 1 as everyone retires for the evening; stay tuned for part 2, when Indy and crew encounter Anasazi Ruins, meet the terrible Jaws of Fry Canyon....and get stomped all over yet again by the Weather God!]
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