Thursday, May 31, 2012


Hello everyone, sorry I haven't posted for a while.  I've been busy with trip preperation, climbing, and learning the basics of building stylish backyard waterfalls, patios, fireplaces, retaining walls, and just making homes look naturally awesome!!  Check out some of the work that Rockwaterland has's seriously worth taking a quick glance (!/pages/Rockwaterland/370682206299816).  Don't get me wrong though I've had a lot of time to relax and hangout with friends/family.  It's been a great first month of retirement!  It's going to get even better since tomorrow is the big day...the day that we leave for the trip of my dreams!  The trip that I've wanted to take for soooooooo long!!  The trip isn't going to be all fun games and will requrie us to be crazy organized.  The past few days we got a taste for some of the work required to travel for a long preiod of time.  Dylan and I have been busy the past few days with the tedious duties of pre-travel. We spent today tuning/washing our bikes, washing our ropes, and packing the van in a manner that allows us easy access to what we feel are frequently used items. The van is now packed with a majority of our gear and we're crazy pumped to leave for the Red River Gorge tomorrow morning!!  I can't wait!!!!!!  I look forward to posting some amazing picutes and videos!!!!!

into the wild(erness)

Memorial Day Weekend - a holiday meant to honor the fallen service members of the U.S. military. A holiday typically spent being jovial around throngs of meat products, picnic tables and endless Bud Light. A holiday that should highlight the atrocities of war instead of flexing military muscle. A holiday that we decided to spend in the middle of the Dolly Sods wilderness, away from any sign of civilization. What better way to honor those who fought for the country then to spend it on public land that we as citizens own? After all, Ken Burns stated that National Parks were America's best idea. Dolly Sods may not be a national park, but it is a federally protected wilderness area in the Monongahela National Forest. Close enough for me.

the main campsite - photo by eric fizer

Thirteen of us entered the Sods via the Red Creek Trail, hiked about 1.5 miles in, and set up shop in a wooded area on the gravely banks of the beautiful, tannic acid-stained waters of Red Creek. The highlights of the weekend included Doug and Mike catching seven large trout from the Potomac River, a gnarly hike to an excellent waterfall upstream on Red Creek, and plenty of whiskey imbibing fireside. It was a bittersweet weekend for Eric and me, as we said goodbye to a few friends for the final time before the rope trip officially starts TOMORROW!

the waterfall and swimmin' hole - photo by eric fizer

Monday, May 21, 2012

cheat river recap

This weekend we visited Ohiopyle State Park in PA to climb the cliffs of the Youghiogheny River canyon and paddle the class III and IV rapids of the Cheat River canyon. The climbing attempt was dismal at best, with only one short 5.9 rated sport route involved. We showed up too late, had to catch a shuttle down to the crags, hike a mile and half on the rail trail, and return in time to catch the shuttle out. Fortunately, the Cheat River trip saved the weekend.

the crew at the put-in - photo by raft guide

lunch stop on the cheat before the coliseumn rapid series - photo by random rafter
lutz enjoying his bloody nose after the first small rapid - photo by mike f
The Cheat is the largest free-flowing watershed east of the Mississippi, meaning it has runable whitewater during the winter and spring. We caught it at about perfect flow - the rapids are good but not dangerous, and the water is high enough to avoid undercut rocks and shallow boulders. The water was chilly at 62 degrees, but the steady sunshine and workout from paddling made the occasional soak feel purdy good.
shredding hard on lower coliseum rapid, eric and i up front - pro photo from WWA photographer

Friday, May 18, 2012

pretrip warmup: ohiopyle and the cheat canyon

This weekend will continue a string of weekends spent outside of buildings. I don't think I've spent a weekend in a town or inside a building in the last month and a half. While most see the outdoors as a transitional way to get from building to building, I see it as my escape from man made cover. This weekend is shaping up to be quite an adrenaline-filled endeavor, with climbing at Ohiopyle State Park (a new, recently developed area in the Laurel Highlands of PA), as well as a rafting trip down the Cheat Canyon. For those who aren't familiar with the Cheat, it's considered the beast of the east amongst the paddler crowd. Here's some old school (circa 2003) footage from people getting eaten by Big Nasty. I've never found my whitewater zone and tend to freak out in strong rapids, making this weekend a test of fortitude. I've paddled the Klamath river in northern California, with mostly class III and a minor IV thrown in for good fun. The Cheat involves several class V rapids (the highest rating for a white water hydraulic), which I'm scared shitless of. Should be a good time! We'll provide some footage after this weekend's outing, pending we survive. Cheers mates.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

greetings fellow dirtbags

As my first official post, I'd like to thank everyone for following our journey. As Fizer and I go into early retirement from the work-a-day world, we eschew the memories of 401(k)s, direct deposit and tax deductible charitable donations. Now we simply donate to ourselves, and we're going to write it off in the form of a four month climbing trip across the US of A. The blog design and layout may change a few times until I scrutinize it enough to be happy. Like Eric said, the official design and posting will be set and begin on June 1st when we depart for the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. After cranking hard for four days, it's off to simmer in the 100 degree heat whilst flapping our arms in an uncoordinated manner to the crunchy tunes of the  Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Stay tuned for further transmissions.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

flaking the rope

I'm starting this blog today so that I can document a trip of a lifetime! Starting June 1, 2012, Dylan Jones and I are leaving our jobs to visit a large portion of the national parks and classic climbing areas throughout the United States. Dylan and I will travel the states by road using our van and tents as our home for the journey.  We plan to do a great deal of rock/alpine climbing, hiking/exploring, and backpacking along the way.  This is kind of a test run to get all the kinks out before the real blogging starts on June 1st.  I'm really excited to get this thing rolling!