So on our way across the bleak desert landscape and alkaline flats we stop to see if we might pick a couple nice pairs of shoes from the rare though flourishing Shoe Tree (right). Though there was nothing that suited our size or fancy I thought we might stop up the road at the Underwear Tree (I was guessing there must be one further on), Marin was skeptical. Well, sure enough not another mile or so up the road there it was and while not as mature as the Shoe Tree, it appeared to be fruiting well and with good variety. We thought it wise not to linger here and moved on our way satisfied in our assessment that “You have to be one shoe shy of a pair to be living in the desert around Amboy, CA.
We arrived in Chino Valley, AZ (near Prescott) and mooched a patch of dirt to park our Kontiki with some old friends of mine, Chris and Janice Dunn. We arrived in the evening, set up and visited with Janice (Chris was in Vegas) before racking out. The following day Marin discovered her purse missing - though logic did once again prevail and it was tracked to our burger stop at Topock, AZ, not far the AZ side from Needles, CA. (about a three hour drive). I was on it! Dashing madly to gather her purse and return to Chino in time for BBQ’d elk. Prior to my departure, Janice, while dancing about with their two lovely daughters sprain her ankle and was hobbled pretty effectively. While I drove hard to Topock and back and though missing dinner did scarf down some great elk burgers and a couple beers. Chris, knowing too much about me from our climbing days, told Marin an evenings worth of tall tales, truths and disreputable stories of younger days. Fortunately, I didn’t really have any explaining to do as it was so long ago it could all be attributed to the poor judgment of youth.
Granite Mountain was every bit as imposing as I remembered. Stiff, very stiff, grades on beautiful and very climbable granite. Once Marin caught her stride she and I managed a number of outstanding routes. The highlights included Coatimundi Whiteout to Candyland finish 5.9 (above), Chu Hoi 5.9 (below) and Marin’s bold leads on all pitches of Falling Ross 5.10d (5.11 anywhere else). The climbing weather became very up-and-down with several perfect days and several very windy, cool-cold days. Nights were quite cold consistently. It was clear we were head into winter weather patterns. Then the first big storm hit and we were graciously afforded lodging in Prescott with another old friend Brent Roberts, Denise and Brent’s two charming girls. We were fed very well and had a soothing soak in their hot tub (so sweet!). And, sadly determined to head south to the desert climbing near Phoenix.