Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Day to Honor, Celebrate and Remember

Disclaimer:  If you are a "normal" follower of this blog, this entry was not written by John, nor does it have anything to do with bagging any peaks.  This is your chance to bail.

Last December 29th, I lost my little brother, Bill Lucas.  This November 17th, we had the honor of celebrating him at a ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery.


To start, we spent an evening with John's sister, Kathy and her husband, JC in Alexandria.  Then my niece, Hailey and my brother and sister (Rod and Julie) showed up mid-morning Sunday, and we just sort of took over Kathy's living room for several hours.  All was good, though.

John and Kathy

The Lucas clan (and John)
 
Since the ceremony was on Monday, we spent a few hours Sunday afternoon kicking around Old Town Alexandria, VA.  John and I are fortunate in that we always seem to have a great time when family gets together.  This time didn't disappoint.  Although we were visiting for a more solemn reason, we still had many laughs...and tears.

Monday morning dawned cool, wet and rainy.  Considering we left single digits and 8 inches of snow back home, we weren't complaining, too much, about the weather.  After the 80 minute drive of 15 miles (I don't miss traffic like that!), and one wrong turn, we arrived!


The Fall colors were beautiful!
 
We met the rest of the family in small gathering room and took a few pictures.

A family shot with Sister-in-law Jane and William Robert Lucas IV

Our last sibling picture
 

Once we all arrived, there were two family groups that drove down from PA that morning (an early morning, 5 hour drive with kids.  YIKES!), we were ready to proceed to the cemetery grounds.

The unfolding of the flag, prior to the ceremony
 
 
 Our sister, Deb, spent a few months in Afghanistan this time last year.  A flag for Bill was flown on Christmas Day.  Unfortunately he never saw that flag.  We'd hoped this flag would have been able to be used for this ceremony, but alas, since it isn't the same size they practice with, they wouldn't allow his flag to have the honor.

The 21 gun salute participants


The re-folding of the flag towards the end.
 

The flag presentation to Jane

After this portion of the ceremony, we walked over to where Bill's Niche is, for the final portion of the service.

His final resting place

The temporary identifying marker

As we began making our afternoon plans and heading out of the cemetery, the skies opened up and just POURED.  Thank goodness it held off for us!

We had a small gathering (only 18 of us) afterwards at Chilis for lunch before we all had to head back to; home, the airport, school.


One of the best parts though, was that I got to get my hands on my two new great(s):

Great niece, June

Great nephew, "Little Bill"
 
In all, it was a quick weekend trip, but well worth the time spent!



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Prophyry Peak - 10,012 Feet





My buddy Dan texted me early in the week wondering about getting out this weekend to enjoy the great fall weather.  After some back and forth, Dan threw out Prophyry Peak in the White Knobs, and since I didn't have a better idea, it was settled.   Dan invited Jordan, a young man I'd met on the fall outing a few weeks prior, as well as Margo.  Since Margo lives in Pocatello, she would to meet us in Arco later that morning.

As we sped through the night, Dan received a couple of texts.  The first was from Margo letting us know she wasn't going to make it.  The second was from Deb Rose, wondering if we could swing by and help them with their truck which was stuck up Sawmill Gulch Road.  WTF!

Luckily for Deb and her group, Sawmill Gulch was on our way and we were only a couple of hours away.  So we took a right rather than a left, and headed up the rough road in search of fellow peakbaggers in need. After a couple of miles, we came upon the group of four (Deb, Victor, Matt and Rob) and their truck.  The truck had slid off the road on an icy patch and was perched on the edge of a small ravine.  In a couple of minutes we had the truck free.

Rather than continue on their objective of White Cap Peak, they decided to join us instead.

The one trip report for Prophyry Peak on SummitPost mentions a difficult river crossing.  Difficult?  Not really, but you could not feel your bare feet by the time you had reached the other side.
Deb crossing while Victor and Matt wonder what they'd gotten themselves into
Dan wondering what the ruckus is all about
There is an assortment of cow paths leading from the river up Castle Creek, allowing easy going for the first mile and a half.  Castle Creek takes you by Castle Rock which towers above.  (Dylan, I looked at the rock - terrible!  Won't hold any pro).
Castle Rock
After a few twists and turns up Castle Creek our objective came into view.  As you can see, the weather was absolutely miserable!

Jordan and Dan
Matt and Deb
When we reached the 8000 foot contour, the group split up.  Jordan, Shadow and I decided to take a more direct route, while the others chose a milder objective.

Jordan charging up the mountain
Shadow wondering why we are so slow
Jordan and I obtained our desired ridge and cruised up it until it ended in a jumble of partially snow covered, loose rocks.  Fun!  Nothing like worrying about a twisted ankle as the rocks move under the snow with each step.  But, we had chosen this route, so it was time to suck it up.  We carefully traversed the rocks so we could get a better view of an easier route.
Shadow loving the loose rock!
Jordan navigating the rock


If you look closely (very bottom, just left of center) you might be able to make out three of the others on a path.
The quickest way out of the rock was also the steepest. The ridge looked like it had the least amount 
of loose rock, so this was our path up.  After several hundred feet of the ridge, we came upon the crux of our route, a mass of loose rock for the final 100 feet.  Jordan waited out of the way while Shadow and I moved up.
The summit's up there somewhere.
Shadow took the lead and other than one steep section where she needed my assistance with a push, we made it through this section without incident.  We reached the summit at approximately 1:15PM, 2.5 hours after we had crossed the river.

Jordan on the final scramble. 
There was a little breeze blowing while Jordan and I shared our lunches with Shadow, waiting for the others.  After 20-30 minutes Rob, Vic, Deb, Dan and Matt joined us.  The views were outstanding, but for some reason I neglected to take any pictures.

 
A look back at the ridge Jordan and I took
 
After another half hour, it was time to head down.  I wanted to make a loop of the trip, but due to how late it was we opted to backtrack down the other's route.  Good move since it was 4PM by the time we reached the trucks where some ice cold Grand Teton 208's were waiting for us.

Stats:
Time: 2.5 hours (summit), 5.5 hours (car-car)
Distance: 6.75 miles
Elevation: 2700 feet


Monday, October 27, 2014

City of Rocks

Elephant Rock from our camp
Last weekend was Family Weekend at Utah State University.  Rather than attend the lame events scheduled by the University, we met Dylan at the City of Rocks (COR) for a couple of days of rock climbing. 

Even though it was October 25th, the predicted weather for Saturday had temps in the upper 60s and light winds.  Sunday was predicted to be colder with a chance of rain.  Not bad for late October.

Dylan told me that this area would blow my mind, and he was right.  When we woke up Saturday morning Elephant Rock was staring us in the face.  Dang!  That is a big rock!  After a leisurely breakfast, we headed to Parking Lot Rock for a climb of Norma’s Book.  The COR guidebook we were using had this rated as a 5.5, so it would serve as a warm up.
Norma's Book
Dylan led this trad route without too much difficulty.  After he set up a belay on top, I followed and trailed a rope for Tamara to follow me.  As I achieved the top of the pitch I gave Dylan a high five and said, “5.5 my ass!”  Compared to the ratings on our local climbing area, this was much harder than advertised.
Dylan is up there somewhere
Dylan making a move
Now it's my turn
Tamara cruised up this route easily and all three of us sat in the sunshine admiring the views.

After the opener, we went to Elephant Rock to climb a classic COR moderate route - Wheat Thin (5.7).  Though there was only one space available in the small parking area, we decided to give it a go.  Luckily, the other climbing parties were just finishing up and we had the rock to ourselves.

We followed the same pattern as Norma’s Book, Dylan leading and me following trailing a rope for Tamara.  This climb was a blast with some steep crack climbing. 
Dylan almost to the top of Wheat Thin


I figured Tamara would have some difficulty with this route, but Dylan kept bringing in rope on the belay and before I knew it, there she was topping out.  Dang!  That girl can climb! After a tour of the top of Elephant’s Rock, Dylan lowered his mother before he and I rappelled off.

Tamara coming up Wheat Thin
Made it!
Summit Splattski on Elephant Rock
The rest of the afternoon was spent with Dylan giving his mother some belaying and rappelling training on Practice Rock.  Dylan set up a top rope, and then we had Tamara belay the both of us as we climbed the short Original Left (5.7) route.

The view out the trailer window Sunday morning was considerably darker than Saturday morning.  Storm clouds were brewing out west, and the prospects didn’t look too good for a climb.  I thought we might call it, but we jumped in the truck and drove to the Breadloaves area to climb Twist and Crawl (5.8).

It was 39 degrees and the wind was blowing as we made the short hike to the base of the rock.  
Dang it's cold!
We quickly geared up and Dylan started up the route.  The first 20-30 feet was unprotected and even though the moves weren’t too difficult, everyone let out a sigh of relief when Dylan clipped the first bolt.  This route is a mixture of sport and trad climbing and Dylan steadily worked his way up the slabby face moves before gaining the upper crack.  As he progressed upward the wind picked up, and the snow started swirling around.
Dylan leading Twist and Crawl
The conditions
Almost...
By this time Tamara decided she’d be better off waiting for us in the truck.  I continued to belay Dylan until he let out a whoop of joy as he topped out. 

After lowering Dylan, he asked if I was up for giving it a try.  Since he had a top rope set up, and it didn’t look like the weather could get any worse, I decided to give it a go.

This climb was the best of the weekend for me.  Not sure if it was the miserable conditions or the fact that it was a tougher climb, but I definitely enjoyed this climb.  There were several places where I had to stop and search for the small finger holds, but for the most part I progressed steadily.  The final moves required some hand jamming up a crack before going over a short roof to the anchors. 



Tamara's view of me from the truck
On our trot back to the truck, in the wind and snow, we both were smiling like crazy.  All in all, the three of us had an excellent time in the City of Rocks, and hopefully we can get back there this spring.



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A team of adventurers consisting of John, Tamara, Taylor, Dylan, and Shadow Fadgen