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Bluebird Broken

Posted on by Mark Nielsen / Leave a comment

“What? We’re leaving already? But I haven’t finished my Junior Ranger book!”

The consequences of our family discussion were sinking in for my youngest daughter Hannah. We were packed in our minivan, driving the gravel road in City of Rocks National Reserve back toward the park exit at the small town of Almo. City of Rocks was just a half-day detour on the long drive from Pocatello to our home in Moscow. We’d spent a few hours hiking in the strangely weathered granite of the reserve, but now were resuming the day’s travel.

Hannah was crushed. At eight years old, she already had made a small person’s career of accumulating Junior Ranger badges. She’d earned them from nearly every park or monument we’d visited: Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches, Badlands, Devil’s Tower, Timpanogos Cave, even Scott’s Bluff. Adding one from our home state was an enticing prospect, so we’d picked up the Junior Ranger activity booklet that morning from the park headquarters in Almo. But our tour had been too brief and the distractions too many. Hannah now found herself one activity short of qualifying for the coveted status of City of Rocks Junior Ranger, and she pleaded for a chance to finish.

“Is there something you can work on between here and the ranger station?”

“No! I’ve done the puzzles. I’m almost done with the page where you have to see animals—I just need one more. Can’t we please stop to find an animal?” Continue reading

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Going Big

Posted on by Ray Brooks / Leave a comment

When Ralph Tingey arrived at City of Rocks in late morning, having driven from Colorado, he found a note instructing him to look for us in the Breadloaves area. He then located us near a route named Bloody Fingers by asking other climbers if they had seen a group of “silverhairs.” As thunder boomed in the near-distance and it started raining lightly, he tied into a dangling rope that ran through anchor bolts and carabiners a hundred feet above. While I belayed him on the other end, he said he’d hurry up the fairly difficult route named Twist & Crawl, remove our gear, and rappel from the permanent top anchors. He topped out on the summit as it started raining more seriously, noted a lightning ground-strike about a mile away, hurriedly grabbed all our gear, rigged a rappel, and then took time to say hello to two slightly lost climbers in their twenties. He invited them to use our rope to rappel the route and they eagerly accepted. After rappelling down to me, he mentioned that two other climbers would be descending our rope, shrugged, and said, “It looked like they needed some help.” Continue reading

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