In Celebration

By | Bouldering, Climbing, The Exterior, Training, Trip Journal | 4 Comments

Last week, we met Katie and Niko at the local Joe’s Valley watering hole, The Food Ranch. The similarities were pretty conspicuous from the get-go: another couple on a year-long road trip, blogging and videoing their way through the experience. The main difference is that they are 2 months in, while we’re on year 2. We immediately got along great and became fast climbing partners and even (gasp) friends. As the amiable couple left to Moab for the week, Spenser and I mulled over a large realization they had brought to our attention: we’ve been on the road for almost 14 months! This awareness was a bit shocking to both Spenser and I. The year-mark came and went, without the least bit of recognition. It was an organic occurrence for us, it didn’t mean nothing to us, but it didn’t exactly mean anything either. Why didn’t we celebrate? Wait, celebrate what? “Congratulations on living your life,” seems very silly to me. I should mention I’m also not much for celebrating birthdays. Celebrating a year of being on the road is along the same vein. At least now I know why Spenser and I have been having such a difficult time answering people when they keep asking us how much longer we’ll be on the road for. The short answer is, we don’t know. We can’t really think about it. This is our life. We’re happy, much happier than we were in the Bay Area. We still enjoy gong back to…

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The Cat that Broke the Mold

By | Bolt Clipping, Bouldering, Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip Journal | No Comments

At around midnight last night, Spenser and I pulled into the familiar parking lot of the Food Ranch in Orangeville, Utah. It felt good to be back at Joe’s. I haven’t written in a while, so I guess there’s a lot to catch up on. Since I wrote last, we’ve left Bishop, released a video, blasted through Vegas, and arrived at Joe’s. In combination with work, I’m not surprised I haven’t been amped to sit on the computer and write up a post. I guess I also haven’t felt inspired. And there’s really not point to blogging sans inspiration. Now that we’ve returned to Joe’s, I have my inspiration. When we spent fall here last year, Spenser and I fell head over heels with a neighboring camper’s kitten (who we lovingly called ‘Kitteh’ as we did not approve of the owner’s choice of name). This was the first feline that I’ve ever become affectionate with. Sadly, her life was cut short by her owner’s incapability of taking care of a kitten on a road trip (she was run over by a car). Fast forward to Bishop. When we moved our trailer into the backyard of the Zoo in the middle of February, I was looking forward to more frequent hot showers and an easy place to cook. Never did I imagine I would also meet the cat of my dreams. Let’s just start with my confession: I am no longer adamantly a dog person. I fell in love with a cat. A…

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Elbow Tendinitis- Searching for the Magic Bullet

By | Staying Healthy, The Interior | No Comments

Elbow tendinitis. Like I said, it totally wasn’t worth it. Sitting around Bishop and not climbing on some of my favorite boulders in the country is lame, but if there’s a silver lining to this whole elbow thing, it’s the fact that I’ve learned quite a bit about what to do if the demon gets you. The last post (linked above) admonishes those who might be tempted to ignore the pain and/or live with it. This one sums up what I’ve learned so far. I should mention that I got in this mess by ignoring about 2 years’ worth of elbow inflammation. If you are just getting started with your “itis,” you’re in luck. A little bit of care will see you through. But if you’re a chronic patient like myself, you might need to throw the whole kit at the problem. Strength gains happen much, much faster in muscle than in connective tissue, so idea behind most of the following advice is to isolate tendons, relax muscles when they aren’t being used, and increasing vascularity in the joints. As a disclaimer, I’m NOT a doctor and you should probably seek real medical treatment. The purpose of this article is to show you what happens when your injuries get the best of you, and what might be done about it. Also, if anyone reading this has any expertise, please leave a comment. If you’re getting the first signs of medial epicondylitis You’ll probably want to read this article by Dr….

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It Wasn’t Worth It

By | Staying Healthy, The Interior | No Comments

Good news: my broken heel is no longer broken. I’ve been walking now for about three weeks, hiking and biking for two, and I ought to be back to powerful lowballs and sport climbing now. I should have cranked out a storm of vengeful conquest on Saigon Direct. But I can’t. I have another injury, and it’s my fault. This whole road trip has been a façade for me, a thin patina of improvement protecting a fragile, rotten, slowly deteriorating core. Even before the trip, I maintained an uneasy truce with that infamous and ubiquitous demon from the first circle of climbing hell, medial epicondoylitis (or climber’s elbow or golfer’s elbow or “why does it hurt when I do deep lockoffs?”). I paid lip service to antagonistic exercises, to an icing ritual, to stretching, to rest, but it never got so bad that I couldn’t just climb through it, try a little harder, and feel hardcore for wearing my throbbing badge of overtraining like so much finger tape. I come to you now bearing the gift of wisdom hindsight. Had I dealt with my tendinitis aggressively long ago, or maybe just not tried to climb at my limit 3-5 days a week, I would likely not be in the situation I am in now. With the first niggles following a few too many lockoffs, I should have banished the demon once and for all. I should have developed the good habit of doing those boring exercises in the last 10 minutes of the…

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Daniel Woods on Lucid Dreaming

By | Bouldering, Trip Journal | 4 Comments

Unexpected messages pop up sometimes. It could be an old Facebook friend, a spam phone call, a LinkedIn invite. This time it was Beau Kahler, our friend from Fort Collins whom we also climbed with in Joe’s Valley. He knows photos, and is now trying to know video. He hit me up on the ‘Book on Monday, asking if we had any extra Organic pads. The skinny: He and Daniel Woods schmobbed out to Bishop from Boulder in a 15 hour push with the singular goal of climbing (Daniel) and filming (Beau) the second ascent of Paul Robinson’s Lucid Dreaming (V15/8C). They had three days. I offered my help on camera #2. We met up at the boulders on Tuesday morning. We snapped some photos and got some video of Daniel trying the standstart, Rastaman Vibration (V12). He quickly did the crux jump move, and we moved into position to film the attempts from the start. Daniel had more trouble that expected with the sit-start moves and transitioning into the stand. The crux consists of the first four moves: a hard pull into a sharp, tiny undercling with the right hand, coming in to match on top with the left, standing up tall on the undercling to reach up to the infamous glassy left-handed micro-pinch, and finally the hard move from the pinch to the crimp that defines Rastaman. After watching several attempts, it was clear that grabbing the tiny, sharp, toothy undercling from below meant that he was holding it in the…

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Bosavi: Changing the Headlamp Game

By | Stuff We're Psyched On | No Comments

I currently have, in my possession, what just might be the world’s most intelligent headlamp. Several months ago my friend Evan sent out an email about his friend’s project on Kickstarter. This friend of his, Dan Freschl, had a design for a headlamp that would be USB rechargeable, ultra-bright, and full of all other kinds of smart features that most other headlamp designers either never thought of or never implemented. (Also, Dan climbs at Touchstone’s Berkeley Ironworks, so he’s a gym homie). Like most people being solicited, I was skeptical, but for $65 I was able to not only support a friend-of-a-friend, but also guarantee delivery of the first edition of the product at a lower-than-MSRP price. Hell, I thought, if it’s all he says it is, then $65 is a steal. Months ticked by, and I was steadily reassured by the over four dozen update emails Dan wrote to his backers, detailing all aspects of the design and manufacturing process. Finally, my Bosavi arrived. How do I love it? Let me count the ways… It’s USB-rechargeable Virtually everyone has a half-dozen micro-USB cables laying around. The Bosavi comes with one in case you don’t, and this means that you can charge it with a laptop, car charger, or your non-Apple-smart-phone charger. When I think of the price of batteries, which always seems higher than it should be (not to mention the stress of disposing of used batteries properly), I already think of my investment as a good one. The…

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Creating a Base

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Trip Journal | One Comment

We’ve been in Bishop on and off since Thanksgiving and I have sent ONE of my projects. I’ll also admit that the single project came very easily. I know I’m not supposed to care about sending specific problems, but I do. I’m also going to be honest about the fact that it totally sucks feeling like you’ve not progressed. I had big plans for Bishop. I thought I would be sending everything. Well, at least everything in the V5 to V7 range. After our two week trip to the Bay Area, I was ready to come back with renewed vigor, but I arrived back in Bishop unenthusiastic and unmotivated. Then our visitors from Indiana arrived: Byron and Matt to the psych rescue, right? Wrong. Don’t get me wrong, Matt and Byron were not lacking in motivation. I was. Maybe I needed a new project to work on? As I fell off the second move to Milk the Milks repeatedly while cursing the slick foot that I was unable to make proper use of, Max’s advice from our trip to Red Rocks in January burst into my mind. The advice that had made so much sense to me at the time, but that I had promptly forgotten about. I needed to create a base. How did I expect to be able to use a tiny glassy nubbin on a V6 move, when I was not comfortable using glassy feet on the V2s in the Buttermilks? Suddenly, I felt quite silly. I had been…

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Rest, Recovery, and the Return

By | Staying Healthy, The Exterior | No Comments

It’s Saturday, February 2nd, and we have been here in Kensington for a bit over two weeks. This brief return trip was for the purposes of R&R, as well as celebrating my father’s 66th birthday, and sending off my little brother Eliot to Miami for his first big-boy job. Congratulations Eliot! It’s been just over 6 weeks since I broke my heel. I think I went through the typical stages (Kübler-Ross) of: Denial- “I think it’s just bruised…” Anger- “Ah shit. I think it’s broken” Bargaining- “It’s okay, I’ll just do lowballs” Depression- When I realized that crutches were becoming a regular, accepted, and even familiar part of my life, I started to get really depressed. Acceptance- This stage should’ve come sooner, but I think it only really came today. I wish I could inspire you with this post. I wish I could tell you that my time off the rock was productive and instructive. I wish I could tell you I trained my weaknesses, learned a foreign language, edited ten videos and had time to campus train. I wish I could write a post about how to stay positive when the main purpose for your trip, indeed, your greatest passion in life is snatched from you in a freakishly mundane accident. For the first few weeks, I weathered the storm pretty well. I drank what must be record volumes of coffee at the Black Sheep. I mastered my crutches. I won $50 playing Blackjack in Las Vegas, and another $50 at the Paiute Palace. I…

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The Tale of the Burning Man Wall

By | Stuff We're Psyched On | No Comments

We are still in the Bay Area. Vikki’s got more work hours this week than most 9-5 people do, and I’m almost to the point of walking without crutches, so we’ll be back on the road soon (Sunday is the new goal). Bishop awaits, and the infamous Byron Wolter will be flying in this weekend for his birthday challenge, which we’ll of course be there to support. In the meantime, the exciting news (besides almost being able to walk again, woohoo!) is that Dead Point published a little article I wrote up about that time we took a climbing wall to Burning Man, in 2011! We even made a video about it. It’s at the bottom of the above article. Click on it. Read. Watch. Also, here’s a link to our blog when we were building that wall. Even now, two years later, it’s fun for us to look back on. In other news, we’re still crunching away at the video of Elliot Faber doing ZAP. It promises to be a good one, just need to get some more B Roll footage when we return to Bishop, and we’ll be all set. TTFN! (Ta Ta For Now!)

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Back When Spenser Had Two Good Heels…

By | Bouldering, Climbing | No Comments

…he sent Xavier’s Roof! A nemesis rig from last year that went down quickly once we arrived back in Bishop late last year. Our friend, Jeramie Hildenbrand, from Project Wingspan did a fantastic edit: You have to watch the entire video, my favorite part is at the end (my best piece of filming work I’ve done to date, hehe). For a quick update, Spenser and I are back in the Bay Area for a bit. Oddly enough, Spenser was getting tired of sitting at Black Sheep all day, every day (and it was his Dad’s birthday on Saturday). Having both caught the flu, we figured we would take a hint and head up to Berkeley for some R&R. We’ve mostly been catching up with friends, enjoying his parents incredible cooking, and ending up pleasantly plump while not climbing. It’s time for me to get my lazy bum to the gym today, actually looking forward to visiting GWPC in Oakland! I bet all of the problems will be brand new to me! 😉 Hopefully back to Bishop this weekend (pending weather) with some renewed vigor to take down High Plains Drifter a la Miss Alison Bagby! AND Spenser should be losing the crutches in the next week or so, yay!

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La Vie Sans Pied

By | Staying Healthy | No Comments

After a quick tour of the bouldering in Vegas, we’re back in our lovely little trailer in the Pit campground in Bishop. I’m getting pretty used to the gimp life. My left heel has been broken for nearly three weeks, and I won’t be able to put any weight on it for another few weeks. Being injured on a climbing trip is not my first choice, but all things considered, I’m not too disappointed. The biggest change is that I’m not climbing. Instead, I’ll crutch out to the boulders and watch Vikki, Steve, Angie, and others trying their projects. I offer beta when possible, take photos, and read. When the urge strikes, I’ll hop around and fondle holds, but I’m being  extra cautious of climbing anything, for two reasons. One, a fall could be disastrous. Two, I’m taking this opportunity to give my elbow tendonitis some time to heal. I had never seen the boulders of Red Rocks before, and it was fun to hobble around and add problems to my mental ticklist. Due to the holidays, we encountered many climbers whom we knew from the Bay Area and elsewhere. However, seeing dozens of people doing what I couldn’t was almost too much to bear. It’s like Vikki hobbling around a non-gluten-free bakery: the torture of temptation. Still, it’s good to remind myself of what awesome climbs are out there. It would be easy to forget about climbing, to feel like my return is so far off that it doesn’t…

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Into the New Year

By | Climbing, Staying Healthy, Trip Journal | 4 Comments

When starting this post, it was only five days into 2013 and I was watching people all around me break their New Year’s resolutions already. I guess that’s expected in Sin City? Vegas can be fun, for a short period of time. And by the 5th of January, I felt like we had outstayed our welcome. The trip started out great, being able to catch up with Miss Alana and getting to know her Portland home-girl, Ashley made the first few days go by quickly (it also didn’t hurt that we had an apartment to crash at, thank you, ladies!!). Although it seemed like most of our group was ready to leave sooner, we ended up extending our trip through last weekend so that I could get my computer fixed (read: I spilled coffee on my laptop back in Bishop, which is the one we use to edit all RV Project photos and videos…everyone should get a plastic keyboard cover, could have saved me almost $400). After New Year’s, we stayed at the Palace Station for a few days: the dredges of the casino-hotels in Las Vegas. We crammed 5 people into a room for 2, and happily paid about $5 each per night for a warm space to sleep. Since the computer was not going to be fixed until Monday, we decided to upgrade to the Flamingo. The room was much larger and included a view of the Strip. The Flamingo is one of the only hotels on the Strip…

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Highballing Success and Failure

By | The Interior, Trip Journal | 13 Comments

The day after the Luminance session, I was standing underneath Grandpa Peabody with a sea of people. Josh, Mark, Max and Steve were all looking into topping out Evilution, myself and a few others were trying to get to the lip, and several people were watching. Elliot, who was with us at Luminance, had been top-roping the old-school Dale Bard solo Transporter Room (5.12ish). Shortly before the sun went down, he stepped up and calmly waltzed up the climb. There is a nice crimp rail at about 20 feet that Elliot got to and stood on, hands-free. Then a couple of dicey slab moves followed. We, the spotters, were somewhat nervous, of course, but he was solid enough to make the entire climb seem almost trivial, as though going through the moves were pure formality. It was inspiring. A few days later, I read confirmation in Wills’ blog that Elliot had succeeded in putting up a new line to the left of Transporter Room, called The Elevator. Elliot told me he was working on yet another new line. I asked if he wanted to get video of his send, and he eagerly agreed to letting me film him. On Friday, December 21st, I jugged up a line and filmed Elliot as he cleaned the holds and worked the moves on toprope. The crux comes at about 20 feet or so, involving some tiny holds and hard-to-see feet that are needed to pull around the bulge and onto a scooped slab. He fell many times attempting the…

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A Visit to an Inhabited Ghost Town

By | Trip Journal | No Comments

  The view from the cabin at Mono Lake. Needless to say, it was difficult to leave. As Spenser mentioned, we took a much-needed break from climbing for some R&R at a friend’s cabin at Mono Lake. The cabin is on Cottonwood Canyon Drive, the same road that leads to the ghost town of Bodie. Given the opportunity, we could not ignore our curiosity to visit this old town. After a bit of research, we took a break from editing our latest video (finished product below) to look for an adventure. A ghost town always equals adventure, right? It was a sunny yet crisp winter morning, so we bundled up and started the drive down the windy snow-covered road. Abruptly we hit a roadblock indicating we could drive no further. Sadly, the road to Bodie was closed for the winter. We could walk the 10 miles there and back if we wanted… Spenser looked at me and said, “I’m down if you are.” I nodded, and we trundled across some rocks to the left of the roadblock. We saw tire marks where we left ours, so we knew we weren’t the only ones to have ignored the roadblock. Thoughts of us getting stuck in the mud a la Massachusetts popped into my head, but I quickly suppressed them. We were looking for an adventure, weren’t we? As we continued the drive down the road, you could sense we were both pleased with ourselves but nervous nonetheless. The kind of unsure satisfaction that…

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Supreme Badassery

By | Climbing | No Comments

During the past few days, our own climbing has taken a little bit of a backseat to other goals. We spent a little bit of time in Mono Lake relaxing and also doing some soul-searching. The primary question is “What is the RV Project?”, or more accurately, “What the F&¢% are we doing?” Filming and taking photos takes a toll on your concentration, and with only two of us, capturing our own sends is, quite frankly, very difficult. We have no desire to film ourselves on problems we can easily do. We have no desire to just film everything that other people do either…that’s no fun for us and not worth the time and energy required. We have no desire to just climb for ourselves. That’s fun, but I feel it shortchanges our opportunity.  Long story short, we decided to focus on our own climbing. We’re in the best climbing area in the US with ample opportunity to train our weaknesses. We have a whole new grade-range of projects to try. We have climbing partners. Life is good. And if one of us is about to do something at our limit, we’ll film it. That said, since we have so much time here and since it is the season, we are also keeping our eyes open and ears to the ground. Hang out around the Peabodys and some strong ass people will show up and they will more likely than not be trying something amazing. If there’s a good story…

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Bishop Times

By | Bouldering, Trip Journal | 3 Comments

Vikki and I are now nearly three weeks into our Bishop stay. It has changed since I first came in 2004. Weekends now consistently see 100-car days in the Buttermilks. The Loco Frijole (aka Terrible Taqueria) is now Holy Smoke, a tasty Texas BBQ joint. There’s a taco truck at Barlow and 395. There are piles of feces to be found all over. Some petroglyphs were stolen. Black Sheep just moved down the street. Much remains the same. All of the land around Bishop is spoken for by various government agencies, so the town will remain quaint. Schat’s is still making people fat, Looney Bean is still run by adorable underage girls, and the Pizza Factory still has the best arcade in town. The sun still casts hyper-saturated colors on the clouds when it dips behind Mt. Tom, and deer are still a common sight around Buttermilk Mountain. Every Bishop trip prior to this one, was marked by the same longing for more time. It felt like home, yet it never could be. We always had to return to our cities. Now we have planted our temporary roots to join the “seasonals,” a loose network of obsessed boulderers hoping to unlock the secrets of strength and badassery. Now we live here. We’ve been climbing mostly with our friends Steve and Angie. Our abilities and psyche match up quite well. There are also our Canadian friends in the Pit, whom we also climbed with in Joe’s Valley; there are many long-term Pit-dwellers;…

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The More You Have

By | Climbing, Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal | 2 Comments

Now that we’re back on the road, it’s very clear that Spenser and I are both happier living life in our little trailer – dubbed Oscar the Grouch (to stay with the Sesame Street theme). I’ve been thinking about why we’re in such better spirits away from the creature comforts we used readily in Colorado. The most comprehensive answer I have come up with is the more you have…the more you want. If I have a shower across the hall, I apparently will use it every day. If I have a big kitchen, I will eagerly choose to ignore it whenever the opportunity to go out to eat arises. These and other characteristics that I disliked about myself when living in San Francisco came back in full force this summer. Living in Fort Collins, just like living in San Francisco, had many positive aspects. It was easy-as-pie to do my physical therapy exercises. Heck, I was even able to find an awesome physical therapist in the first place! There was a gym in the garage of Brad’s apartment. There was gluten-free food on every street corner. Spenser was able to do the construction for the truck and trailer with ease since Brad had every necessary tool imaginable. Middle-of-nowhere Utah, or even Bishop, does not offer these amenities. We needed Colorado to be able to regroup after Byron’s departure. And then we needed to leave. Leaving was difficult because we had created a home for ourselves in our Colorado. We especially…

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A Review of Liquid Grip, The New Liquid Chalk

By | Road Trip Beta, The Exterior | 2 Comments

Like every climber ever to grace this earth, I suffer from non-optimal skin. It sweats too much, it’s too thin, it’s cracked, it’s split, it just hurts. I’ve tried damn near every chalk there is. So far, the best I’ve been able to figure is Antihydral about once a week and plain old block chalk before every go. Recently I was reading Dave Macleod’s Online Climbing Coach blog and saw a review for Liquid Grip. I’ve tried Liquid Chalk and I like it, but it requires reapplication and is otherwise a pain in the butt for me. Liquid Grip is supposed to be an “apply and forget” sort of product, which would solve my main complaint with liquid chalk, so I figured it was worth a try. The company gives the somewhat dubious claim that the product adheres to the amino acids in your skin and will not transfer to other surfaces. Of course I perked up when Dave gave it a positive review, but I grimaced when I read that “there is a small amount of Rosin (less than 5%) in the product and they reassure that there is no transference to surfaces although didn’t say how this was tested.” I sent away to Liquid Grip for a few samples. On one hand, LG could very well be a manna for los manos. On the other, I’m very concerned about rosin being used on rock, because over time it forms a slick coating to the rock and destroys the friction…

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The Essential Guide to Joe’s Valley Living

By | Local Beta | 4 Comments

Edit #2: PLEASE do not just camp anywhere! Joe’s Valley has far surpassed its carrying capacity for primitive camping, and creating “new” campsites is a huge threat to access. Please camp in demarcated sites only! Thanks! Edit: Ungerman’s Meats have moved into a bigger space, just off Highway 10 on the far side of Huntington from Joe’s. The number to call is 435.687.2276. Happy grilling! Having spent over two weeks in Joe’s Valley, and also having gotten the low-down from friends who have previously been here, we have gained insight above and beyond the Insightful Guide. If you are planning your first trip there, or even if you have been before, read on for some useful information you might not have thought of. It may be getting a little chilly/snowy there soon, but bookmark this post for Spring/Fall 2013 keep this handy on your iPad as a PDF, and feel free to ask questions or make additions in the comments. Fires One of the most important amenities on any climbing trip is firewood. In Joe’s, there are three options. The first option is to gather. PLEASE DON’T. Plants don’t grow very quickly in the desert, and what’s dead and on the ground is an important part of the ecosystem. The areas near popular campgrounds are picked through anyway, which means you’ll be tempted to hack into a huge log that’s being used as a bench, or something like that. The second option is to buy it for the standard $6 per…

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Back in Bishop

By | Climbing | No Comments

The past week has been a blur. We left Joe’s Valley last Tuesday afternoon and Spenser drove us straight to Bishop. Leaving our amazing campsite at Joe’s was the most difficult part – we will likely never find a better fire pit, but it will be there waiting for us when we return! After an 13-hour drive with a quick stop at a barbeque joint, we were back in the Pit. As we drove in around 3am on Wednesday morning, as suspected, the Pit was FULL. Since we were the first of our group to arrive, we grabbed one of the only open campsites we could find and passed out. Thankfully by the time we had woken up, there were multiple open campsites. As we waffled about saving site #15 for our friends (a prime spot with tons of flat real estate for cars & tents), Spenser ran into Jenn Zecchin, who we know from the Bay. Jenn was on her own this Thanksgiving and was driving around the Pit looking for a campsite. Perfect timing as she was able to park in site 15 and save it for the rest of our group. A benefit to all since we didn’t have to feel guilty about saving a site with just our crash pads, as we know many groups in Bishop are in the same boat. Wednesday was a rest and get ready for the gang to arrive day. While I’ve only been to Bishop a handful of times and…

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