The days are long and warm now. Afternoon storms roll across the mountains every day. The land is wide, and green, and alive.
We camped in one of our favorite spots on Friday night. The wind was warm and blasting over the hills all night long. It carried the heavy scent of sage and mud, wildflowers and ancient granite. And, occasionally, cows.
The plan on Saturday was to walk to the Valley Massif, and tick off five climbs I’ve wanted to do for a long time. A very ambitious day. Especially if Vedauwoo had anything to say about it.
The hike took FOREVER. It was wet. I sunk into black, slimy, smelly mud over and over again. We slogged along the shores of Crow Creek for hours in the steamy sun. We got lost, we wandered around, we yelled at each other, we read maps, we made new plans, and then slogged off again.
Hours later we made it to the base of the climbs. Mark led Powder Puff (5.4) for the warm up, and really enjoyed the climb. We both climbed the route twice, adding a few variations (the chimney start, the Corbel Exit). Then we napped. Four more climbs seemed far out of our reach. We finished the day with Bill Steal (5.6), a beautiful hand crack that was worth wringing out the last bit of energy in our reserves.
We packed our gear up in the long evening light. We scrambled back to the trail, and started the slog along Crow Creek back to our campsite. In a narrow valley between rock cliffs, I spotted something moving in the creek ahead of us.
There were two, large, moose 25 yards in front of us. Liv hadn’t seen them, and came back happily as I urgently called her. The moose looked at us. We looked at our trail. And the moose. And considered what to do.
Did you know, on average, 11 people are killed by moose each year in the US? They are mean animals. They can kick in all four directions. I read this in Outside magazine a few years ago. And I’ve never been so close to a moose. Then they started walking towards us.
So, we yielded the trail to the huge, hulking, black animals. We scrambled up the rocks to the left, and watched the moose slog by us on the trail below. Mark decided on the high-ground move. He declared that, based on information gleaned from labels of Moose Drool Beer, moose love water and would not chase us up the hill. The moose moved on, and we exhaled.
The hike back was easier. We followed the trail longer. We were still completely exhausted on our return to camp. Our shoes and socks were soaked through. Our pants were coated in black, smelly, crusty mud. We had run out of water on the hike back, and were dizzy from dehydration. We definitely earned our hot dogs and beer on Saturday night.