In October I had the opportunity to go on my dream vacation, an adventure trip to Moab, Utah. I spent five nights sleeping in a tent and stretching my comfort zone in the Moab desert. Every day I was challenged to do something that terrified me, but at the same time was something that I’d always wanted to try.
Adventure 1: Rappelling
My first day in Moab included a lot of hiking (almost 10 miles) and rappelling down a couple of 100+ foot drops. I’ve never attempted to rappel before, and in fact am quite scared of heights. But once you’ve hiked two miles into the desert on a (pretty much) unmarked path and a dozen of your closets new friends are waiting on you to rappel down before they can continue on, you pretty much don’t have a choice.
Once you get over the fact that you’re backing yourself off of a cliff, rappelling is pretty fun. You have a lot more control than you’d imagine and walking/hopping down the side of a mountain is pretty cool.
Adventure 2: Rock Climbing
Our second day of the trip revolved around rock climbing. Not only have I never climbed before, I hadn’t even attempted to do one of those indoor climbing walls. Mainly because of the whole afraid of heights thing, and not being confident that I’d be strong enough to do it. So I spent the first hour or so watching others make their first ascent, studying their technique and strategies. Finally, it was my turn. It didn’t take me too long to realize that not only is rock climbing awesome, I’m not too bad at it.
I took several routes up on the sandstone at Wall Street. They were 5.7 and 5.8 climbs (if I remember correctly).
Climbing is certainly a physical challenge, but it’s also a mental game plotting your course on the way up. You are constantly scanning the face of the rock looking for small cracks or riffs, searching for your next hold. Sometimes there’s nothing to hold onto and you have to smear (basically pushing your foot against the rock and leveraging the friction between the sandstone and your rock climbing shoes) to make your next move.
It’s definitely intense!
I really can’t wait to go rock climbing again. I think it’s something Tony would really enjoy, and I can see us planning future vacations around rock climbing opportunities.
Adventure 3: Mountain Biking
If you go to Moab and you don’t take the opportunity to ride a bike, you didn’t really experience Moab. On our third day, the rented mountain bikes and headed to Dead Horse State Park to spend the day riding the Intrepid Trail System.
I’ve been riding a bike since Kindergarten so it sounds funny, but of all the things planned for the trip, I had the most anxiety about mountain biking. For starters, I hadn’t really spent any quality time on a bike in like fifteen years. And when I was riding on a regular basis, it was through the very flat streets of Lebo – hardly the type of terrain that would catapult me forward over my handlebars and into cactus. Also, it was the first time all week that I wasn’t attached to safety ropes keeping me from totally hurting myself.
As it turns out, I was probably right to be anxious about biking. The terrain was crazy. I rode over, up and down rocks (more like small cliffs in some areas) that I would’ve never guessed were possible to take on a bike. And then there was the sand. Once your tires hit it, it was like a suction cup force suddenly brought you to a grinding halt. Fortunately for me I avoided having a catastrophic wreck, but I did wipe out a few times. Turns out I’m not really capable of holding a conversation and riding a trail (at least at challenging points) at the same time.
After I managed to get some space from the rest of the group, I had plenty of room to challenge myself physically and see what I was capable of. Some cussing was involved, and I was slightly violated by my seat once, but overall it was awesome. I can’t wait to buy a mountain bike and start trail riding here in Kansas.
Adventure 4: ATV Riding
The final adventure for the trip was a day of ATV riding through the sand dunes in the back country of Maob. While I enjoyed riding, I really wish we had been able to go faster. I really wanted to be able to get some air on a few of the jumps that we rode over but we had to stay in line so that pretty much ruled out the opportunity to do anything too crazy.
I can’t really explain how much I loved this trip and what it meant to me. Not only did I have a chance to do a lot of cool things, I was able to learn a lot about myself in the process. I look forward to more adventures in the future, and look forward to being able to take Tony back to Moab sometime so he can check it out too.