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Road Trip

What 7 Weeks of Travel Looks & Feels Like

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What 7 Weeks of Travel Looks & Feels Like

The beginning of my year has been amazing so far. I've gone on 7 consecutive trips to climbing destinations across Texas and the southern United States. It can be tiring to constantly go go go, but I take my opportunities when they arise because I never know if they'll show themselves again. Because of this I plan on being gone every weekend usually, and I tell people I'm not free from Friday - Sunday night, simply because I delegate that time for myself. Something new this year is the importance i've put on photography and using it to help tell my stories in a way that people can appreciate from a quick glance, and I'm loving it so far. 

Denis and our guide checking out a "Hueco" (an indentation in the rock) 

Denis and our guide checking out a "Hueco" (an indentation in the rock) 

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Traveling at the beginning of the year usually means grabbing your lowest degree sleeping bag but this year the south has seemingly skipped our winter haha. It's made my travels to Oklahoma, New Mexico, and El Paso (All more cold than my native Dallas) not so bad temperature wise. Last year this time I was freezing my toes off in a 40 degree bag in Horseshoe canyon ranch with temps as low as 22 degrees...AND it rained on us! Needless to say God has smiled on the south this year and the coldest I've endured so far has been low 40s and maybe some high 30s at night. 

"Trent, don't you ever get tired??" something my friend Mo said to me while we were hiking through the massive boulder field on the side of upper Mt. Scott. I replied like Bruce Banner (The Hulk in Avengers) "That's my secret Mo....I'm always tired" as I turned into the incredible human hiking machine. All jokes aside, yes I do feel fatigue hahah.. It can be exhausting to hike to a climb, climb all day, and then hike back up the mountain to the camp site, like we did in New Mexico. The key is to not let it consume you, a lot of the time before I leave on a trip, I'm feeling exhausted from the week at work and school. I'll attribute making myself push thru usually to already having solid plans in place, but also to the fact that I keep my psych level HIGH!!!! I'm always hyped to get outside. 

Feeling a little tired after a 70 foot 5.12b at Sitting Bull Falls, NM

Feeling a little tired after a 70 foot 5.12b at Sitting Bull Falls, NM

Partially what I look forward to on these trips is the connections that are made. On the way to New Mexico, Doland, mentioned that he was interested in Rope Access work, and Denis just happened to know a guy who owned a company who need Rope Access workers. I kid you not, Doland called the guy as we shopped for food in a Carlsbad, NM Walmart and got hired on the spot. Later on in the trip when we went to Hueco Tanks, Doland and I would find ourselves sat around a campfire with two other guys. We sat and talked about the "soul of rock climbing" and a bunch of other hippie stuff haha. As we talked with the guys we found out that our plan to "walk on" to Hueco Tanks wouldn't work because all the spots would be filled before we could talk to the rangers. As luck would have it one of the guys we were talking to was a certified guide for Hueco Tanks, and would end up being our guide the next day. The guy was super awesome, and actually knew Denis from Baltimore when Denis worked at the climbing gym there. It was really cool to see how we're all connected in ways we don't even know, unless we connect with others.

Doland (Left) Denis (Center) and our Guide, looking at a few warm up routes in Hueco Tanks.

Doland (Left) Denis (Center) and our Guide, looking at a few warm up routes in Hueco Tanks.

Alec feeling good after a full day on the wall.

Alec feeling good after a full day on the wall.

The whole purpose of this website and me writing is to inspire people to get outside and be bold. I want to inspire adventure, because I've seen what it does for me and how rewarding it is. So far i've taken 4 people out this year who have never climbed outside before, and we had a blast. You don't need to be on my climbing level to enjoy climbing outside with me, or for anyone for that matter. A good attitude, willingness to learn, and persistence is all it takes to enjoy climbing or doing anything really. 

I love the life I live. I love sharing my passion with others through my writing and photos. If you ever want to learn how to climb, go camping, take cool photos, plan a trip, or just talk, we have a "Contact Us" page or you can just message us on Facebook!

Onto the next adventure!

Onto the next adventure!

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The Importance of a Road Trip

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The Importance of a Road Trip

I've done a LOT of road trips in the last two and a half years, mainly because of rock climbing. It's a lot cheaper to take my car that can go 400 miles on $20 of gas, than spend $400 to go to Colorado on a plane. As a kid, I would go on road trips with my dad to Kansas city to visit my aunt for the 4th of July every year. I spent my time watching movies on my portable DVD player while the hours passed by. Fast forward 15 years, I take a road trip every week to different climbing destinations across the Southern states. 

everywhere I  drove  in 2016. 

everywhere I drove in 2016. 

Road trips are sort of a special time for me now. I usually have 1 or 2 friends in the car with me and we'll talk from Dallas to Arkansas and not even realize the time that's passed. It's a super important part of the traveling experience for me now. If you sit and think about it, when was the last time you sat and talked to someone for 4 hours.. I know exactly when that was for me, it was last Saturday driving from Austin back home with my friend Frank. A lot of the time we go through life taking a few minutes every hour or so talking to someone and moving on with our day. Even your boy/girlfriend or spouse, I doubt you've spent 4 hours talking to them in a long while. I've discovered friends in people I disliked previously, found a gentle person behind a tough exterior, and all while behind the steering wheel of my Ford Focus. 

Myself on a 5.13b in Austin.

Myself on a 5.13b in Austin.

I also enjoy the road trip time because it helps me appreciate my final destination. Being from the concrete jungle that is Dallas, I don't have any outdoor climbing within 3-4 hours. I spend most of my time training in the gym with my outdoor goals burned into my brain. When I'm on the road to Hueco Tanks, New Mexico, Colorado or Arkansas (they're all 5hr + drives) I know that I've only got my short time in these places and then I've gotta go back home on Sunday. This can be one of the best motivators, knowing that you've got limited time in a place and you've got to make the most of your time there. And this can be broadened into a super deep "We only have a limited time on Earth so make the most of your short trip" analogy that rock climbing is FULL of, but I won't get TOO sappy on ya. Basically my hours in the car make me calm down and think about how fortunate I am to be where I am, and to be able to do the things I do. 

Besides all the warm fuzzy parts of talking with people on road trips, uhh I need people so I can stay awake. Despite what anyone tells you "OH bro I can drive forever at night, don't even worry." everyone gets sleepy driving, and especially at night. If you get in my car for a road trip and you plug in headphones and expect me to chauffeur you to our destination, you're gonna be paying me for it. Unplug from your devises and plug into the people around you, because it's incredibly unique to be able to have someone's attention for hours at a time without having to pay them. 

Road trips are about relationships, learning about your friends and partners, and appreciating your time. I think everyone needs a good road trip in their life to escape the go go go way that most of us live. There's no rushing the trip, we'll get there when we get there, just enjoy the ride. 

Horatio, Mario, Myself, and Denis 

Horatio, Mario, Myself, and Denis 

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Trent's California Trip

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Trent's California Trip

It's a crazy coincidence that Chris and I are both in California within 2 weeks of each other. I’ve been to California before when I was younger to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, but this was long before I started Climbing. I don’t know how it is for other climbers, but California is like my dream location for climbing. It’s really my ideal place for everything, You can Snowboard in the winter, Surf and Climbing in the summer...it’s my dream land. Anyways We flew into San Diego around 4pm and grabbed dinner at this cool little Asian place called East Village Asian Diner. On the walk in I see Thunder Cat action figures in the window and they had Anime playing on the TV, so I already knew the place would be awesome. Something always amazing about leaving Texas is the temperature difference compared to literally ANYWHERE else. It’s a cool 70 degrees when the sun sets and I have to wear a jacket since I'm used to a climate similar to Hell. We walked down the street and the city of Del Mar had a vintage car meet. Super cool way to end the first night for sure. 

One of my dad’s friends is a Navy Chaplain and stationed on the Coronado Naval base, and he gets access to the entire base, Including the Navy SEAL section. So we met up with him at Panera in Coronado and he goes over what we’re doing for the day. We start on the larger of the bases and go past 2 Gigantic air craft carriers, 1 of which is under refitting and covered in white plastic. Drove past tons of black hawk helicopters and gigantic cargo planes.

After that we head to the way smaller SEAL training base. It’s pretty much an entry gate, a gate to the beach/ocean, and a big green field where we saw about 50ish young men in their 4th week in SEAL Training..Lets rewind a little bit, as a climber I have a fairly decent upper body strength since I pull my body weight up large walls for a hobby, so I can do a decent amount of pull ups as a result of that. So I was thinking about challenging these men to a pull up competition...Fast forward again, we’re driving by the field where all the guys are training and I quickly realize that these dudes' job is literally to work out ALL day while under extreme stress, most of them my age. Made me super appreciative to our United States armed forces for the amount of training and stress that these guys go through so they can protect us against any harm that would come our way. Also I spotted the group of them who were on pull-ups and it’s about 1pm at this point and I also realized that they’ve probably been working out since 6am and they were not doing these pull-ups slowly. So I reconsidered my challenge pretty quickly....Also they don’t really appreciate you interrupting the Navy SEALs. Over all SUPER cool day, saw some really cool stuff and got some cool Navy gear. 

 

Saturday I got a pretty late start; left the Hotel at 10ish and got some breakfast at a local place, and headed into San Diego to check out the Mesa Rim climbing gym. I’ve only climbed at a few gyms (Dallas, Tx & Durango, CO). Dallas, being my home gym, we are 4 hours from the nearest outdoor rock, so our setting is DRASTICALLY different from climbing gyms that are less than an hour from real rock. That being said Mesa Rim is incredible, 50-70 foot walls, excellent routes, and an overall great gym. I’ll go into real quick what I consider a great route; I like on a 5.11 to have a little bit of difficulty but not impossible, I like it to have technical moves with high feet, rather than huge reach moves with really no skill involved. I prefer technique to sheer brute strength. I didn’t walk in with a climb partner but the gym called overhead “If anyone needs a belay partner please come to the front desk” within like 10 minutes of me being there (probably one of the cooler features i’ve seen in a gym). The guy was super cool, and was even from Lubbock, Texas. We warmed up on a 5.8, hopped on a few 5.11s, two 5.12s and even got on a 5.13 that was super awesome. It was also awesome training for my 12 hour comp on the 27th since the walls are 70ft tall, the pump was real! Got a sick Nalgene from the gym too. 

 

I woke up on Sunday and started packing my bag for Joshua Tree; 70m rope, harness, quick draws, runners, chalk bag, and I grab for my shoes in the bottom of the bag and they’re not in there. A quick panic sesh led to realizing that I had left my only pair of climbing shoes at the climbing gym from Saturday. This is also happening at 6am because we were leaving early to J-Tree so we could get there early, so that plan was out the window. Luckily for me the gym still had them so we scooped them at around 9am and headed to Joshua Tree. If you have no previous knowledge about Joshua Tree, it’s basically a trad climbing paradise (Traditional Climbing). Sadly I only own sport climbing gear, and the ratio of Trad to Sport climbs in Joshua tree is about 10 to 1. A few days before I bought the Joshua Tree guide book at REI and I thought that would be sufficient, but I really didn’t grasp how large the entire park is. If you’ve ever been to Hueco Tanks in Texas it’s basically that park but 10 times bigger. All the rocks look the same, they’re these big bulbous brown rolling mountains, and the only way I was able to distinguish the areas that we went to was where the mountain in the background was. The guide book I purchased was less than amazing, and made it super hard to figure out where climbs were located and even finding a Sport route in the book was difficult. Made for a very stressful time, being surrounded by amazing trad climbs, but looking for small silver bolts in a sea of brown rock. The climbs I actually got on seemed like someone was bored and threw up random bolts into a climb.. some didn’t even have anchors and I had to rappel off the bolt. Regardless of how stressful it was to find climbs, I was with my family, in a beautiful place, on a vacation in California..my life isn’t bad. At the end of the day I learned the meaning of “Sometimes you win, Sometimes you learn.” I know next time I’m in Joshua Tree it’ll be with a gigantic trad rack slung across my chest, blazing routes all day. 

 

I think my favorite part of the trip has been the general attitude of California. Things just don’t seem so rushed here. Stuff just gets done, people enjoy life, and it’s just generally stress free. I spent Monday sitting in a Starbucks writing this post and watching the cars and bikers go by. It’s nice to just sit and do nothing sometimes and just watch people go about their days. It was a nice break from the constant training i’ve been doing for the last 2 months (Though I did train in the gym here, in case my climb partner reads this). I can’t wait for the next time i’m in California, I hope it’s not too long.

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SunRiser Colorado Trip

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SunRiser Colorado Trip

Driving somewhere in New Mexico. 

Driving somewhere in New Mexico. 

The SunRiser crew went to Colorado last week! I had been planning this trip for a while so It was really nice to finally get out on the road. Chris and I left on Thursday (June 30th) at about 11pm and we arrived in Durango, Colorado, which is the town where we’d be doing most of our climbing/hiking near, at about 12pm. It was cloudy and semi rainy when we pulled up to the cabin and about 50 degrees which was INCREDIBLY nice compared to the 100+ temps we had just came from in Texas. We got settled in and Denis and Krista came back from town and we all talked about the drive and plans for the week. We decided for that night since it was raining and cloudy to just go check out the climbing gym in Durango. It was a super unique climbing gym, 3 stories, and they had some really amazing rope routes. 

Krista and Denis feelin' the altitude

Krista and Denis feelin' the altitude

Being from Texas, we were expecting the bouldering in the gym to be a lot softer than ours in the south..it was not, and the altitude made it very cardio intensive hahah. I hopped on a few V5s, they had a super awesome cave/roof climbing section that was awesome to climb in. I also hopped on a lot of rope routes which were more like outdoor climbing than anything i’ve felt in the south. 5.11s and 12s were super realist, tough, and technical climbs. Probably has something to do with the fact that the gym is about 15 min away from an actual rock climbing wall, where as in Dallas we have a 4 hour drive to some good rock. After, we headed back to the cabin, cook dinner and pass out for the night.

Saturday Morning we wake up and decide to go to “Sailing Hawks” Bouldering area in Durango. I’ve only bouldered at Hueco Tanks in Texas so I really didn’t know what to expect from bouldering in a different state. We start up a mild hike following the description of the “Warm Up Boulder” on The Mountain Project app. We would never find this “Warm Up Boulder” but the day would turn out to be just stumbling on one amazing boulder after another. Just great climbs, everything from V0 - V11 and the field just goes and goes and goes. 

We run into a guy we had seen at the gym the night before and he hung with us for a while and turned into our guide showing us a few cool boulders. 

He told us a little history of the area and that most the routes at Sailing Hawks were V1 - V3 and also that most of the routes were way harder than their grade since the guys who set the area up were some real hard climbers. 

The clouds started to roll in around 1pm so we packed up out crash pads and headed back down the hill to the truck. Ended up putting all the gear up and closing the doors right as the clouds started dumping rain. Content with our climbing for the day we headed into town and ate at a pizza place off Main Street in Durango. 

Back at the Cabin, Chris and I decided to hike to the small water fall down the hill and go explore a little bit up the mountain for a while. 

Sunday we woke up and decided to head to Crater lake near Silverton. Some back story on Crater Lake, My mother a friend and I went to “Crater Lake” when I was younger and I remember it being a short hike with a nice lake at the top that we swam in. So we set off on the drive to Crater Lake, and as we go Krista decides to google the hike before we get there. She says that it’s a 6 hour hike.. 11 miles total, which seems longer than I remember but I’m sure that I did Crater Lake as a kid, so we press on. We get to the trail head and set off on our journey at about 11am. The hike is absolutely gorgeous, I highly recommend it to anyone who has 6hrs to kill and a lot of endurance.

Waterfalls, streams, trees everywhere, amazing landscapes, words can’t even describe how beautiful it is. About half way up to the lake, none of the hike is jogging my memory of the hike as a kid, so I text my mom asking her if she remembers it being as long. Turns out my mother and I went to SPUD LAKE when I was a kid, which is only an hour hike and right next to the cabin that we’re staying at.. At this point I start laughing historically with Chris because the hike was way more than we had bargained for. We continued on to the lake and it was so worth it, it truly is spectacular in person.

We spend about 30 minutes at the top and then start the hike back down. Denis had decided to do the hike in Chacos, which turned out to not be the ideal shoe to do an 11 mile hike in, especially when it’s muddy. So as soon as we get the bottom of the mountain pretty much all of our crew strips our feet of their shoe oppressors and go barefoot on the walk back to the car 

Chris and Denis walking barefoot back to the truck.

Chris and Denis walking barefoot back to the truck.

Incredibly tired the group decided that we all deserved burgers after the 11 mile hike, so we headed to a burger joint in downtown Durango. Denis gets into a small war with the establishment over a missing milk shake which we end up “winning” leaving in hand with a $5 milkshake which was more milk than shake..leading to many inside jokes for the rest of the trip. We head back to the cabin, our legs dead, and our hearts full.

I wake up on Monday and find it very hard to put weight on my right leg, feeling a lot of pain right below my knee cap. Which puts a dampener on my morning, but regardless we head up into Durango to go do some rope climbing at Golf Wall. After a little trouble finding the parking for the wall, we head to the “Girl Scout” area which hosts the largest grouping of 5.9s and 10s. It’s a short 5 minute walk to the wall, where we picked the hardest possible scramble to get to up to the wall, later finding that there are stairs just 10 feet further. We get all the gear and ropes to the top and decide to start on the 5.10 kind of on the center left of the wall. It had a super cowboy start requiring a lot of upper body, which was not what I was expecting for our first route of the day, but got through the bottom half and the route opened up into this super nice climb. Every hold was pretty well chalked up so it was super easy to read the route. the Crux was a horizontal crack sequence which had you walk your body along the crack about a foot then grab a nice juggy horn about an arms length up. The wall we were on would prove to have kind of muscular hard bottom sections followed by kind of slabby, technical top sequences that made the routes super rewarding.

Got a good amount of climbs in and felt content with the day at about 1pm and decided since it was pretty warm outside to take our sweaty selves to Baker Bridge in Durango.

Panoramic from Bakers Bridge.

Panoramic from Bakers Bridge.

We got to Baker Bridge and I can remember going there as a kid and the water being extremely cold. This childhood memory definitely lived up to expectation as the water was reaaaally cold. However Krista felt the urge to jump off the famous Baker Bridge, which is about a 50 foot drop to the frigid river below.

She was braver than Denis, Chris and myself.. We only worked up the courage to get about waist deep in the water. The river was successful in cooling us all down, and helped my leg not hurt so bad. Since this would be the last day Denis and Krista would be in Durango, we headed back to the cabin to pack up their stuff before the firework show in town. 

We all met up in town at a little Bar & Restaurant with a good view of the show and sat back and watched the fireworks. Since I was a kid fireworks have always been a big part of the 4th of July for me. We used to go every year to Kansas City and be with my Aunt on the 4th. We’d have huge Firework shows and it’s made that day very special to me. I’m very glad I got to spend it with some of the best friends a guy could ask for.

The Show ended and Chris and I say goodbye to Denis and Krista and head back to the cabin. 

Tuesday Chris and I wake up and decide to head to the skate park in town. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day and just perfect for hanging out and skating. Sadly I had not brought any shoes to skate in, I only had boots and Chacos..So I became possibly the first Chaco skater of Durango. 

I got a lot of “How do you skate in those” throughout the day. We met a dude actually from Dallas at the park and chatted with him for a while. All of the people we met in Durango were incredibly nice, which worked out well for us since a lot of the time we were kind of just going with the flow. 

After skating, we headed up to my Grandparents house to take showers and rest for a bit. A fun fact about the Cabin that we were staying in is that most of appliances are powered thru propane and thus have “Pilot Lights”... Since I was born in a time where pilot lights are not common in houses, neither Chris nor myself had a clue what they were or the protocol of what to NOT do with them. Earlier in the day we had cleaned the entire cabin, and while cleaning we stumbled onto these little flames under the stove top. Being in a cleaning mood we decided that we didn’t need to use the stove anymore the rest of the trip. So we blew them out, which turned out to be a big no no. When you blow out these little flames underneath stove tops the gas keeps pumping through it, which will fill your cabin with gas, potentially becoming explosive if a spark or a flame occur. 

After telling my grandpa of what we had done, he informed us of how pilot lights work, and we hastily headed back to the cabin to open all the doors and windows. Luckily for us the cabin had not exploded when we returned and we promptly aired it out, avoiding a potentially awkward situation of having to explain to our family that the cabin that has been in the family since 1985 had exploded. 

The front of the Cabin.

The front of the Cabin.

We met up with my grandparents, Uncle, Aunt, and cousins at the best restaurant in Hesperus called “Kennebeck” and had an amazing dinner with the family. We said our goodbyes and hugged the family and headed back to the Cabin for our last night in Durango. Chris and I discovered some Vodka that Denis had left in the fridge and decided to indulge. The small amount we had hit us way harder than we expected and turned us into laughing fools in no time. A good way to end the trip (Thank you Denis). 

This trip was incredible, I couldn’t have asked for better people to live in a cell reception-less, dark, sometimes cold Cabin. It’s a trip I won’t forget any time soon!

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