Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Back East

It was a bit sad leaving Colorado, despite the crappy weather.  We had planned to spend a good month or so climbing there, enjoying the wide variety of climbing the state had to offer.  I guess springtime just isn't the time to do it.  We hit the road, hoping for some better luck with the weather back east.

First stop was Elephant Rocks State Park, a small area of granite boulders in southern Missouri.  With visions of hanging out with a buch of people who were afraid to go outside, we headed to the nearest camping area - Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.  Imagine my dissappointment when I discovered that a Shut-In was just a fancy name for a type of river rapids.

Kristal enjoying the Shut-Ins

Unfortunately for us the weather continued to be uncooperative.  Since we hadn't planned to stay long, and knowing there would be a chance of rain, we had decided to sleep in the car.  Thank goodness for us!  What had originally been forecasted as scattered thunderstorms turned into a full blown storm of epic proportions, complete with tornado warnings right where we were camping.  We couldn't get to sleep all that easily with the constant lightning, torrential rain and thoughts of tornadoes carrying us away.  When Kristal decided to visit the little girl's room in the middle of the night she discovered 3 inches of water outside the car.

About half an hour later the water had risen to 6 inches.  Good thing we weren't sleeping in the tent!  It turned out there was a small creek about 50 feet behind our site that decided to flood its banks.  We quickly moved to higher ground.

As the storm continued to rage the next day, doing any kind of climbing anywhere in Missouri or Southern Illinois was obviously out of the question.  We decided to head to Chattanooga, which appeared to be far enough south of the epic storm system to be largely unnaffected.

First stop was Tennessee Wall, an excellent trad crag that we had somehow never made it to on our many previous visits through the area.  We enjoyed two excellent days of climbing, despite not having a guidebook and running into no other people at the wall.  We just decided to jump on whatever looked good, and looked easy enough for us to climb.  As it turned out we managed to jump on quite a few of the classic moderates. Here I am on Puppy Ride, 5.9.

The views from the top, overlooking the Tennessee River, were pretty awesome.

It's been a while since we've been in the land of dense deciduous forest.  The sheer volume of bugs will take a few days to get used to again.  At least there are also a lot of pretty flowers about.

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