Go Beyond The Fence

The scenery is better when you are part of it !

East Point Sanctuary

Sticking to tradition, Sandy and I ventured for the coast to celebrate my birthday.  I had already done some research as to where I wanted to go and found an amazing hidden gem called East Point Sanctuary.

hangriness

We decided to wait and eat when we got close to our destination, thinking in over 100 miles we should run across something.  The hangriness started to set in as I was driving through Saco during an unexpected car show.  Both sides of the street were lined with old cars and traffic felt like it was backed up forever.  We made it through that little bump in the road unscathed and still smiling and joking but very hungry.  Still believing we would find something we kept on driving.  (Note to self do not keep driving, check Google Maps for a place to eat if you are hungry.)  We made it within a mile of our destination and still nothing.  Now we decide to check for a place to eat.  I had my heart set on Olive Garden, another tradition.  38 minutes away is what the phone told us.  So back the way we came we go haha.  I decided to pick my own route to avoid the car show mess and ended up saving 10 minutes thankfully as I could have eaten the steering wheel at this point.  We arrived and had an amazing meal as usual and things got much happier haha.

East point sanctuary

From looking at Google Maps I could see there was a trail along the coast around the sanctuary.  I couldn’t quite tell how accessible it would be but it looked doable.  Disclaimer: My definition of doable may be different than yours. Google Maps is a good place to start so you can decide. When we arrived we had to park on Lester B. Orcutt Rd which had been described on the website.  It looked as though there were going to be a lot more people than I had imagined.  We didn’t park all that far away but it was a bit of a walk to the trailhead.  Another note to self, if you think you might need your gloves take them don’t leave them in the van. You will see what I mean in a minute.

The trail

We started up the trail and came to what looked like a tunnel that was formed by trees and bushes.  In the distance we could hear kids coming so we stopped and waited.  The kids were on bikes which the sign expressly forbade but I suspect the local kids don’t follow that rule to the letter.  The first kid in line stopped and said I don’t think you are going to make it up through there.  He clearly didn’t know me haha.  He suggested we take the grass trail around through the golf course.  Not knowing what was ahead and thinking he might I decided to take the grass.  It was a good call.  That way was super easy.  We continued on after coming to the actual trail and finding a fairly well-done gravel trail.  I keep forgetting to take pictures of the trails but I promise to do better with that in the future.  The trail is about 2 miles in length and is mostly flat for the first section that brings you to the edge of the coast overlooking the ocean.  We stopped at that point for a bit to take pictures of birds and the scenery and then decided to continue on.  We came to where the boat docks for the tours out to Wood Island Lighthouse and there was an old wooden walk way down to the beach.  I decided not to bother with that as I had scoped out what I thought was a possible spot to make my way to a rocky beach almost at the end of the trail.  As we continued on further the trail gets a bit rougher with a trench on one side filled with sticks.  I was able to navigate this section on my own but it took a lot of front wheels in the air and tricky maneuvering.  It is unlikely a power chair would make it and anyone with limited upper body strength or trouble walking might have a tougher experience.  It would still be possible with help though. There was also a few places that were uphill with large rocks protruding from the ground but was still passable on my own with quite a bit of effort. We stopped at various points along the way to take more pictures and admire a lot of the various flowers and other plant life as well as more birds.

The beach

We came to the beach that I had found in my research and sure enough, it was going to be possible for me to access it.  Here is where those gloves would have been handy.  I got out of my chair and had Sandy take it down to the rocks, although I actually could have lowered it down myself if I was alone.  There were 3 rocks that had made natural steps down to where my chair was situated. I proceeded to crawl down through the steps and what I found out were rose bushes.  As my hands were starting to bleed and hurt from the thorns I realized gloves would have been good haha.  I made it through though and got into my chair.  As I started to push it was obvious the rocks were not so solid.  It was an awesome workout just getting around to a spot to take a 360 video of the surrounding area and the amazing sounds of the ocean and birds.  This is also something that might be quite difficult for someone with less strength.  I love the cool breeze and relaxing sounds of the ocean.  We spent probably a half hour there but could have spent all day.

Heading home

Once we had enough of sitting on the beach and were getting tired we made our way back along the trail. We came to the part that the kids have previously warned us about and curiosity overcame me.  I had to see what they thought was so bad.  The trail through the trees was actually quite magical looking. It was like being in a totally different world.  The trail was actually very easy and smooth until the very end and was only inhibited by a couple large roots.  No big deal.  It would be pretty easy to push that section of the trail but definitely easier to take the grass around to the top of that section. We ended up at the trailhead where there was an elderly man with a walker and his family.  I hope he was able to make the trek out to the point but I have a feeling he was in for quite a difficult time.  The surface of the trail is not really suitable for walker wheels.  We made it back to the van and decided to take a look around the area before pointing for home.  The houses are unbelievable.  Definitely out of our price range haha.  At least until we win the lottery or I sell that app I haven’t started working on yet.

I always love the feeling I get when I have visited the ocean.  It is the most relaxing and rejuvenating experience there is.  I sleep better and feel better. I do hope to spend more time near the ocean in my life but I also need the mountains to give me that sense of adventure that I crave.  It was definitely an amazing day and I would highly recommend visiting East Point Sanctuary.

Posted by Enock Glidden on Saturday, July 29, 2017

Acadia National Park

It’s about time!

After 38 years of living in Maine, I finally made it to Acadia National Park. It is about a 3 and half hour drive from where I live but is a beautiful ride. We decided to avoid the interstate and take the long way. It was well worth the extra time.

We stayed in Ellsworth Maine about a half hour drive from the park. It made it really easy and enjoyable and wasn’t too expensive. It also helped we were near shopping areas because we forgot a few things as is the usual order of things haha. The first day we had grand plans to make it to the park but decided to take it easy at the hotel and just stock up on food and things we needed for the rest of the weekend.

Arrive early

On Saturday we ventured into the park and got there before the visitor center even opened. We somehow missed the entrance and made it half way around the park loop road before getting a bit lost. We ended up outside the park and had to take a scenic tour back. We made it back and ended up at the park entrance this time. Definitely arrive early.  It got very busy not too long after 8 am when the visitor center opened.  Up until then, we had the place to ourselves which was awesome.  The visitor center was packed with people so we just got my pass mirror hanger and left pretty quickly.

Park loop road-cadillac mountain

The park loop road is the road that is going to let you hit all the main highlights of the park.  We went up the auto road to the top of Cadillac Mountain first and it was the perfect time of day.  There was almost no one up there so we had perfect views of the surrounding area. There are stairs up to the lookout point but they have made paved ramps around them.  Of course, there are other points to get to that have stairs in the middle of the pathways.  Being that I have an affliction called Go-Where-I-Can’t-itis, I decided that this was not acceptable and crawled over the stairs just to get to a point that really was not a much better view than I already had haha.  The challenge of getting there was fun though.  This is definitely a must do for everyone.

Jordan pond

Next, we went to Jordan Pond.  The accessibility here is pretty good once you get down a very long steep hill to the trail that borders the pond.  The pond is extremely beautiful with mountains all around.  We spotted a family of Merganser Ducks that a woman was photographing.  She said the mother duck started with 8 babies and was able to raise 2 last year.  If you have never seen one they are a very unique looking beautiful duck.    So back to the trail.  We made it pretty close to halfway before coming to a makeshift bridge of sawn in half logs.  I could have scooted across on my butt but decided to turn around and head back.  If I went back I would love to finish the loop around for sure.  Up until that point though the trail was extremely smooth and easy to push even though it was just a hard dirt surface.

Thunder hole

After Jordan Pond we had our getting lost moment but once back on track we went to Thunder Hole.  Thunder Hole is basically a cave in the rock that when the water slams into it makes a thundering noise.  There is a ramp down to a look out above the hole.  There are also 3 flights of stairs if you want to get down closer and get wet.  I was a bit disappointed by the stairs but I get why it would be difficult to get access to it.  This was also when things started to get a bit crowded.

Avoiding sand beach

The kids wanted to go to sand beach but there are 31 steps getting down to it so we convinced them to go to Echo Lake the next day to swim.  At Echo Lake, there is an accessible path right down to the beach.  We ended up not going as we got sidetracked with other adventures.  We were glad we decided to skip sand beach when we actually got there as there was a massive amount of people.  Cars were lined up on the side of the road for over a mile and the parking was completely full.

Rest up for sunset

We decided to cut out of the park a bit early and hit the store for more supplies and then rest up at the hotel for a couple hours.  We had a plan to go to a hidden gem called Schoodic Point to catch the sunset. This was one of the things Sandy really wanted to do so she could get some pictures of the sunset over the ocean.  It definitely did not disappoint.  We had the whole place to ourselves and hung out for a good 2 hours or so just enjoying the cool breezes and beautiful scenery.  I had another flare up and decided to crawl down a small bank to get out on the rocks and just had Sandy bring my wheelchair down. I was able to get out really far all way to the water all on my own.  I love how rocks make natural ramps haha. 

Fun on the rocks-Schoodic Point

The final day of our weekend we went back to Schoodic Point.  It is the Schoodic District of Acadia National Park.  There is a loop road in this section also with many places to stop and just enjoy the views of the rock and ocean. I had to do some creative wheeling to get down to the rocks but with a tiny bit of help from Sandy, I made it.  I guess I had yet another flare up of my affliction.  This was one of the best moments of the trip.  We all hung out on the rocks, me trying to get places I shouldn’t go, kids actually climbing the faces of the rocks, Sandy joining the kids climbing and just enjoying the views of the ocean.  I did a bit of coaching with the kids telling them where to put feet and hands while climbing some short routes maybe 15 feet or so and they both made it.  It was so cool watching them and seeing the joy on their face when they pulled it off.  So not to be outdone their mom decided to try it and she made it too.  Another very awesome moment.  The youngest of the 2 boys is quite the mountain goat and loves scrambling over rocks so we had to keep a close eye to make sure he wasn’t pushing the limits too far.

A majestic moment

After we finished playing on the rocks we stopped at this little cove area where the fish were jumping.  As we were watching the fish and enjoying the scenery, I just happened to turn around as a majestic bald eagle flew over us from behind, banked a turn and disappeared into the woods he came from.  We looked and looked but never saw him again.  It would have been an amazing picture but either way an awesome moment.

Exploring the point

We finished up there and moved on to the actual point of Schoodic Peninsula.  There were stairs getting down to the rocks this time so while the rest of the family went down there I chose to explore the trail leading to the bathrooms haha.  I actually found another natural ramp of rock on my way along the trail. I made my way back to the stairs and told the family about my discovery.  We decided to do lunch in the area I found.  It didn’t take long for a couple seagulls to encroach upon our space and watch us very intently.  At some points, they were even doing reconnaissance flights over our heads to see what we had.

Exploring the rest of the island

We finished up lunch and headed off to explore the rest of the island away from the normal areas of interest.  We went to northeast and southwest harbors to check out the towns and see what we could see. Sandy wanted to do some marina photography and Northeast Harbor did not disappoint.  We even found another eagle perched high up atop a tree.  It sat there the entire time we were there and we got lots of pictures. If you have never been to Northeast Harbor Marina you should definitely check it out.  There is ample parking and it s a great place to enjoy the boats and scenery.

Bass harbor head lighthouse

Our main objective for exploring the rest of the island was to end up at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. When we first arrived we chose to go down what we thought was the path to the lighthouse. It turned out to be a pretty accessible path down to a really long set of stairs with a platform at the top.  After seeing that I told them to go ahead down and see what they could see and I made my way back to the parking lot to look for a more accessible route.  I did find a way down to the lighthouse but it was less than accessible.  It was a really steep but paved hill down to a nice area right next to the lighthouse.  It was so steep in fact that I did a wheelie to get down it and I could hear my backpack grinding against the pavement.  I was really leaning back.  I made it to the bottom though and then realized if they don’t figure out I am down here there is no way I am getting back up without crawling.  It took awhile because they were shooting pictures of the lighthouse but they eventually worked their way down to where I was.  It turned out to be an amazing experience and a beautiful spot. Like I always say there is usually a way to do everything if you just look for it.

I do wish we had more time to explore and we will definitely be going back again.  This is definitely one of my favorite spots and can’t wait to see more of it.

Links of interest:

Posted by Enock Glidden on Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Climbing El Capitan

How do you put it into words

It has been around 8 months now since the team and I completed our ascent of El Capitan. Which is actually super hard to believe. I have been waiting for the movie to be out until I wrote anything so that I wouldn’t ruin it for people. I also have been struggling with how do you describe such a life changing, mind boggling experience.  I want you to know how it felt looking out at Yosemite Valley from over a thousand feet in the air while hanging from a single rope.  I want you to feel the updrafts that pushed the portaledge and made it feel as though I was floating.  I want you to be able to see the brightest stars you have ever seen.  I want you to see the sun as it peeks around El Capitan in the mornings and then hides on the other side as we finished the day. I want you to see the succulents and grass growing from the rock.  I want you to see the “crack swallows” as they swarmed around me while I was climbing and waiting on the portaledge. I want you to see Half Dome at sunrise and the surrounding mountains bathed in sunlight.  I want you to see the Dawn Wall when you realize why it’s called that. These are the things I struggle to put into words.

Words of thanks

So I guess it’s time to try my best.  I have spoke of my selfless friends before but they deserve mentioning again and again.  I don’t want to list them all because I am sure I would miss one and they all deserve recognition.  I had 12 people from all over the country come to help with this ascent.  Some of them I didn’t even know.  They just heard about this mission and changed their vacation plans and came to help.  This wouldn’t have happened without the people in my life.  I am truly thankful to each and everyone that helped me pull this off.

Surprise!

One of the first nights we were there we stayed in North Pines Campground.  We were all just hanging out around camp and a lady who uses a wheelchair and some of her friends started toward our camp.  As they got closer everyone was wondering who are these people and why are they coming to our camp.  Out of the darkness, I heard “Are you Enock?” in a pretty heavy Italian accent.  I looked at the lady and of course said “yes” with a questioning tone. I was thinking how do you know me? She explained that she had heard about my climb on the internet and decided to be there to do her own climb of the same route.  It was that moment that I realized by putting myself out there maybe I could encourage others to try things they may not otherwise think possible.  Her name is Eleonora Delnevo and she really did come all the way from Italy to climb El Capitan. She was injured almost exactly a year before while climbing. While talking to her and her team we found out they wanted to start up the same day we had planned.  This posed a bit of a problem.  Eight people all starting up the same route would definitely end up being quite a traffic jam.

After they left we discussed the traffic jam issue and decided to move our schedule up a day to October 4th.  This meant we now had one less day to get everything together.  The next day was spent running around the valley trying to get water, food, and all the other supplies we were lacking for the climb.  After a busy day, we were able to pull that part off.

Blast off!

The morning of October 4th we were up bright and early and headed to the meadow.  I was very emotional when Craig was talking to me and filming.  I got choked up trying to hold it back.  I had waited for this day for so long and worked so hard to make sure I was ready.  The moment was finally here and it was going to happen.  The carry team had me up to the base in just a couple hours.  It was a much easier approach than the year before when we did Washington Column but still not an easy task by any means.  They worked super hard to get me up there.  Christian Cattell had the first ropes already set to go by the time I got there so we thought we were set to go.  Unfortunately, another team member Gary Dunn hurt his shoulder while jugging and had to bow out.  So Christian and Craig headed down into the valley to try to find a fourth member to go up with us.  They came back a few hours later. They didn’t end up finding anyone and we all made the decision to go as a team of 3 including me.  This meant that for a good portion of the climb I would be in a sense on my own.  I wouldn’t have anyone climbing beside me as planned but Craig would be nearby in case I needed something.

The climb

I don’t want to bore anyone with the play by play of 4000 pull ups but I do want to touch on some of the highlights and lowlights of the climb.

When you read 4000 pull ups I am sure you think wow I could never do that.  I had trained for a total of 2 years for those pull ups so that part I actually found not so hard.  At the end of each day, I wasn’t all that tired.  We climbed about 300 to 400 feet a day. So that meant about 800 pull ups per day.  The part I wasn’t prepared for and really couldn’t train for was being hundreds of feet in the air and about 40 to 50 feet from the wall the entire time I was climbing.  I have to say that was quite scary at times.  It was most scary when the wind would pick up and start spinning me.  I did a lot of staring at my pull up bar and the rope but I also had the opportunity to take in some amazing scenery.

Breathtaking sights

For those of you that don’t climb, I can only say you are missing out on a really special way to see the world.  I saw places that I never knew existed in the valley.  Everything looked as though it was meant to be there as if there was some order to how the world was put together.  All the imperfections disappear and you are left with the most breathtaking beauty your eyes will ever gaze upon. The rock up close is much different than you see from the meadow.  It is actually full of colors, from the lichen in greens, yellows, black, and orange to the different shades of grays and whites.  I also had no idea that things actually grew on the rock besides the lichen of course.  I was able to see a few types of succulents and different grasses which were a huge surprise.  I’ll never forget waking up each morning and watching the sun kissing the rock across the valley as it came around El Cap and lit up the Dawn Wall.

We slept on portaledges and I also used one between pitches to lay on.  I did this so I wouldn’t be sitting any more than I had to in order to prevent sores. I am happy to report I came out of it sore free.  During the day while I was on the portaledge I could feel the powerful updrafts pushing on my back as I lay there.  At times it would push the portaledge up in the air a little bit making it float.

I can’t remember which pitch we were on but there is a crack way up there that swallows have decided to use as a home. This is why they have the name “crack swallows”. While we were near this crack they kept flying around us in a rhythmic dance.  It was quite an amazing sight to watch.  It was if we were part of the show on the inside looking out.

Pitch 7

Pitch seven is considered the go or no-go moment.  Where you must decide if you are going to bail or if you are going to keep going to the top. It is apparently much harder to get back down after this pitch.  I had been thinking about this for the last six pitches.  We were on the portaledge at this crux moment where I had to decide for myself if I had what it took to complete nine more pitches.  Christian and Craig broke the ice and for some reason, I instantly felt sick to my stomach.  We went back and forth with it’s up to you buddy, and we will support whatever decision you make statements.  I kept saying I don’t know I feel sick.  I said a lot of people put a lot of effort into getting me here and I don’t want to disappoint them.  The guys, of course, said they were sure that everyone would be fine with whatever I decided.  Then something flipped in my head.  I thought to myself, think about what you just did.  You are seven pitches into this and you have been fine the whole way.  Suck it up buttercup its time to climb.  So I told them I will try.  As expected once I got climbing my stomach was fine.  I had just been psyching myself out in my head.  It is amazing the power the brain has to make or break a person. I looked at the guys and yelled out “Send the haul bags we are going to the top!”

The belay incident

I also had the opportunity to belay for Christian and to help him with hauling the haul bags. I was making it to the anchors pretty fast so I would grab the tail end of the cordelette that was being used to haul, and did my best to at least help.  My belaying experience was something to remember also.  I was taught to leave a bit of rope out so when it hung it made a smile between me and the climber.  This was not the correct method for El Cap as I found out the hard way.  I was belaying Christian as he was setting my next rope.  I can’t remember which pitch but it was way up there.  So he yelled out “falling!” and in the position I was in I could not reel in the little bit of extra rope I had out fast enough.  As you can imagine a person falling on a rope that is catching them has some force to it.  So that extra rope acted like a bit of a catapult and shot me off the portaledge.  Not to worry,  I was tied in and safe but definitely scared me and I am sure Christian. I did do my job correctly though and caught the fall and all was well after Craig grabbed the rope and pulled me back to the portaledge. Needless to say, that was my last belaying experience on this climb.

The portaledge routine

At the end of every day, we would set up camp on 2 portaledges.  When I say we it was mostly Christian and Craig.  I took care of my stuff but they did the bulk of the setting up. We cooked with a Jetboil and ate mostly add water type meals.  We did have snacks during the day.  I loved the cereal bars.  We had oatmeal for breakfast and lots and lots of water, 20 gallons in total.  We ended up having leftover water which means we probably didn’t drink as much as we should but we didn’t bonk out.(term climbers use for when we don’t eat or drink enough and have to stop climbing)  Now I will get brutally honest. The bathroom routine is quite different when you are living on a 4 ft by 8 ft space.  I think this was my main concern about this climb.  How do you use the bathroom?   It is very difficult to get dressed or really do anything in that small of a space when you can’t stand up. Your body is already taking up a huge chunk of the space.  I brought along a plastic camp toilet that we put garbage bags in with laundry detergent for smell reduction.  Essentially this is where you get to know your partners very well.  I do want other disabled people to know that it is doable though as long as you plan ahead.

Topping out

We topped out after 5 days on the wall.  I am not sure I can capture that feeling in words. Yes, people had gone before us but for this one moment, this was our big accomplishment.  Even as I sit here now I am tearing up thinking about coming over that edge and how it seemingly did not want to let me.  I struggled more in that last foot then I did for the other 1799.  As I lay there by the edge having just pulled off the biggest climb of my life it just hit me and I couldn’t hold back the emotion.  We all just hugged and cried.  After 2 years of training, disappointment, and exhilarating moments I finally got to see the top of El Capitan.  The view is like nothing else. Half Dome off to the left seemed so much more majestic.  There were trees up there haha.  The coolest campsite that seemed like it was made for us.  The bird that was using its beak to dig around in the soil for something to eat.  The comradery of a group of people who had just accomplished something big.

My own personal hell (the descent)

Based on that heading you might think the descent was not that much fun.  You would be correct haha.  We descended off the east ledges which is where just about every climbing group gets off the top.  I was strapped into a rescue litter just like I was for the carry to the base.  However, this time I was strapped in there for nearly 17 hours.  I basically had to go within myself and just let it happen. I was very quiet the entire time unless spoken to. There was steep rock that the team had to lower me down with ropes but not so steep that I wasn’t sliding all the way. It was so dusty that at some points it was almost choking and hard to breath.  There are a series of rappels which Christian skillfully guided me down.  That was the easiest part for me.  When we got to the bottom of those rappels it was dark and people up above were knocking rocks down onto us.  It is about 400 ft of rappels so the rocks had some distance to gain speed. I think that was the scariest part of the descent.  I had no way to move and couldn’t look around to see where things were coming from. At one point a rock came toward my head.  Frank Robertson had the not so great privilege of stopping that rock with his thumb wedged between the rescue litter and the rock.  I was pretty impressed that he just took it in stride and just switched hands to keep carrying. Gary Dunn also met us at the bottom with some other carriers and food. He was a lifesaver from the ground. He organized the whole descent team and had everything in place for it to happen.   Then there was the manzanita.  If you have never experienced this plant it is the sharpest thing I have ever witnessed in nature. Everyone ended up with cuts on their legs from this stuff. At some point, a piece of it got wedged under my back and for some reason I just took it.  I could have easily asked someone to remove it but maybe I was trying to join in the suffering.  Who knows. Everyone that was involved in this descent worked so brutally hard for all those hours.  They did this all because they wanted to make sure I was safe and got to live out my dream.  There really are no words to express enough thanks and gratitude for everyone involved and I hope I can repay their efforts some day in some way.

What now?

To answer that question,  I have been talking to friends who were on this trip and some that were not and we are planning my ascent of Mt Rainier.  I am hoping to pull this off sometime in the next couple years.  We will be doing a couple training trips at smaller but similar peaks to figure out systems and what might be involved.  I have also been asked by friends to participate in a human powered boat expedition up the coast of Alaska for 750 miles. As with Mt. Rainier this has special meaning to me.  It is Nick Halls’ brother Aaron that has asked me to participate.  I haven’t completely said yes but I am looking into the logistics and would love to pull this one off.  This summer I am hoping to hike into Mt. Katahdin with friends to scope out possible routes for me to climb.  That will hopefully happen in August.  The fun never stops. There are too many mountains and a great big world to explore.  Like the North Face says “Never stop exploring!”

Links of interest:

The North Face – Enock Movie
Eleonora Delnevo Back to the Top

These were all taken by Craig Muderlak during our ascent of Zodiac on El Capitan this past October

Posted by Enock Glidden on Saturday, April 22, 2017

You Know How Forgetful He Is!

As I am sitting here and it’s Mother’s Day I obviously can’t help thinking about my mom. Unfortunately, she is no longer with me on earth.  She lost her 10-year battle to cancer in 2007.

I have often wondered over the past few years what she might think of the path that I have embarked on.  Every time I complete one of my adventures I always wish I could call and tell her about it.  There is no way I could tell her before hand because she would go crazy with worry.

You may be wondering about that title I chose for this post.  Well, there is a story behind that.  In 2006 I was taking flying lessons to get my private pilots license.  I am still working on that but that is another story.  So it was time for me to take my first solo flight which consisted of just taking off, flying the pattern and landing 3 times.  Well, my flight instructor Richard Whicker had told my parents that it would be happening ahead of time so they could be there.  So my mom and dad made the 5 hour trip to Southern Maine Aviation to watch me solo.  I got into the plane with my instructor first and we flew the pattern and then I dropped him off and set off on my own.  My mom and dad were in the hangar with him watching and my mom was sitting in one of those metal folding chairs.  Long story short I did my 3 takeoffs and landings without incident and pretty perfectly actually.  So while I was flying my dad noticed my mom was praying and teary eyed.  He asked her what was wrong and she looked up and said ” You know how forgetful he is” haha.  So apparently she didn’t have a lot of confidence in me pulling off that solo unharmed haha.

I suppose every mom worries about their children but most children don’t climb 2000 foot rock faces, fly planes, go paragliding, race a wheelchair down a hill at 56 miles per hour, and skydive.  She prayed on the skydiving day too by the way.

That was an interesting story too.  I made the plans to go skydiving without telling my parents. I was 23 at the time and figured I didn’t need to.  I did call them right after though and my mom said No you aren’t.  I said yes I am I already paid for it.  So her response was well then your dad and I are driving you.  So it was a family event after all haha.  That one turned out good too phew.

People say she would be proud of me for the things I am accomplishing and I know that is true. I also think she would wish I wasn’t doing some of the things I am doing.  She would never say that though. She would just encourage me to do it.  I am blessed to have other women in my life that have taken over that role though from my girlfriend Sandy who definitely worries but still encourages to my moms’ friends like Brenda Raymond who also worries but encourages.

I guess what I am getting at is thank your mom for encouraging and worrying.  If it wasn’t for moms we wouldn’t be here to live our lives and have amazing experiences to share.  Make sure to share as many of those experiences with your mom as you can while you have the chance and don’t ever take it for granted that she will be there to encourage you to live out your dreams.

Posted by Enock Glidden on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Joshua Tree Paradox Sports Skills Camp

I’ve been back from Joshua Tree National Park for a few weeks now but have been a bit under the weather with a leg infection and some wounds on my feet.  Thankfully I am on the mend and infection free.  I am also finally mentally able to write about the thoroughly memorable trip I took to California.

Arriving in Camp

This was the inaugural year of the Paradox Sports skills camp in Joshua Tree and it definitely did not disappoint. The week started April 3rd with everyone just arriving in camp and getting settled.   My first impression of this amazing space that was saved for all the world to admire, was just like every other national park I have laid eyes on.  It was like being in another world.  The shapes of the rock are like nothing I have ever seen.  The rocks appear if someone just piled them in specific areas. It makes you wonder how did they form like that.  There are vast expanses of Joshua Trees as far as the eye can see.  This year was especially breathtaking due to all the rain they have received.  There are beautiful desert flowers blooming everywhere with amazing colors from deep reds to bright yellows.

I was the last to arrive at camp paradox as we nicknamed it.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I knew almost everyone that was on the trip already.

shawn Sturges

I did meet one new climber, Shawn Sturges. He is a visually impaired climber who has set a goal of climbing the south face of Washington Column in Yosemite National Park.  He came on this trip to learn some of the skills he will need for that climb.   As I watched Shawn over the week we were together I became more and more impressed with his abilities.  He likes to say that he isn’t a normal body type for a climber because he weighs more than a stereotypical climber.  While watching him though, I found him to be graceful, methodical, and downright skilled.  He was able to work out different ways of overcoming his loss of sight and work his way up about 12 different climbs throughout the week.  On one of our lesson days, we were learning to place gear in cracks to allow us to aid our way up different routes.  Sean explained that he could use the size of his hand to gauge what size piece of gear to place in the crack.  I realized while listening to him that I could use some of the techniques he was using to make it easier for me too.  That is one of the things I love about Paradox Sports.  We can learn from each other because we always have such a diverse group of people.

Bonnie Denis

Another of my friends Bonnie Denis is a double amputee.  She worked on being about 12 routes also during the week and I also learned a lot from observing her.  She worked with a guide one on one to figure out techniques specifically for her to be able to lead climb and generally make it possible for her to do longer climbs. She is still getting used to not having both legs as the second one was just recently removed.  All though she has both legs partially missing she is still able to climb and I think that is what most people should take away from seeing our climb.  Climbers adapt and we are just climbers adapting.

Adam “The Payne” Train

Last but definitely not least is Adam Payne.  AKA the Payne train.  He has ataxia which causes a lack of muscle coordination when a voluntary movement is attempted. It may affect any motion that requires muscles to work together to perform a function, from walking to picking up an object to swallowing. He has trouble walking on the ground but when he is on the rock it is like he transforms into a completely different person.  It is truly breathtaking to watch his smooth controlled movements up the wall.  He makes moves while climbing that most able-bodied climbers would have a tough time doing.  I wish everyone could witness this transformation.

Enock’s Experience

So I am the final participant that attended the camp.  I had an unbelievable week and learned so much.  I had my buddy Kyle Queener who I met in Yosemite to help me learn to place gear.  I also did my first ever free climb.  You can see from the smile in the pictures that I loved it and wow did I.  I want to do a lot more of that for sure.  I love the feeling of using the rock to work my way up the wall.  It is as close to nonadaptive climbing as I have ever done and I can’t wait to try more. Unfortunately, I only did about 5 routes during the week because I hurt my shoulder skiing 2 weeks before the trip.  That was plenty though for me to learn a lot more than I already knew about climbing.  I definitely want to go back to the park and explore a lot more.  We did get to see a lot of it though just driving from crag to crag.  One evening while in camp a whole herd of bighorn sheep came by about 400 yards or so in the distance.  It was tough to see them at first but really cool to witness.  Another great memory I will take with me was having a mini Yosemite reunion with a few friends that were climber stewards in Joshua Tree and friends that came to help out.  We also went to climber coffee one morning and met with other climbers in the park and got to spend some time with rangers.  It was a really great experience getting to meet all those people and get the word out about what we were doing also.

The 300 foot/half a mile “easy” hike

Probably the best memory doesn’t even have anything to do with climbing.  We heard about this arch in the park called Arch Rock and decided we wanted to go take a picture with it. So we asked for some beta on what the trail was like and was told it was not too far maybe 30o ft and pretty flat with just rolling hills.  So we naturally figured we can handle that. When we arrived at the trailhead the first thing I noticed was the sign that said .5 miles to arch rock haha.  That is a bit more than 300 feet.  Naturally, we are adventurous people so we said oh well let’s try it anyway.  Not too far into the trail, we encounter the first set of stairs.  It was doable we had plenty of people to carry or push if needed.  There were actually 3 sets of stairs in the trail which we all made it past.  We came to where we could see the arch and immediately had to wonder what the heck we were doing haha. I am not sure how to describe it but there were large rocks that we either had to be carried over or walk over to get to a vantage point to take this picture.  I chose to be carried of course in the arms over shoulder style to a point where they could sit me on a not so wide rock about 15 ft off the ground with a guide bracing me.  We did get our picture after all.  On the way back it was a bit easier since we knew what lie ahead of us.  The last set of stairs had sort of a rocky hill beside it that I sat at the top of contemplating whether I should just wheel it or wait for help.  Those that know me can guess I didn’t wait haha.  Bonnie at one point in a somewhat concerned voice said: ” Are you really going to do that?”  I, of course, said, ” yes this isn’t that hard.”  I proceeded to pull a wheelie and ride down the hill thankfully making it in one piece and not looking like the idiot that should have waited. It seems the struggles are what make the best memories.  Setting out with a goal and making it happen is what Paradox Sports is all about.

The Takeaway

After reminiscing about this whole experience I hope that as you read this you were able to see that 4 people of different abilities were all able to accomplish their goals and much more.  We had help along the way and Paradox Sports and all the guides and volunteers made it possible.  I want to thank everyone involved for making this experience so fruitful and memorable.  I look forward to my next trip with Paradox Sports and all the trips to come.

Links of Interest:

All of these pictures were taken by various people in the group.

Posted by Enock Glidden on Monday, May 8, 2017

Shawn Sturges Film “A Mountain To Climb”

Bonnie Denis explaining how climbing changed her life (Part 1)

Bonnie Denis Part 2

Adam Payne World Champion Climber

Lots of Winter Updates

It occurred to me that I hadn’t written here in quite a while.  I think it is mostly because I have been in the job finding hunker down for winter mode.  I just realized though that a lot has actually happened this winter.

Skiing

I got my first ever, all mine, made for me mono ski this season.  Big thanks to the Kelly Brush Foundation, which without their help through grant funding, I never would have been able to purchase my ski.  Also big thanks to all the help from Chiharu and Joachim at DynAccess LTD. They truly went out of their way to make this a reality for me and I truly appreciate it.  So back to the skiing part. One of the biggest benefits to my new ski, I got to ski with my brother and his family.  I am looking forward to many more ski seasons with them.  I managed to get about 10 days or so on the snow this season.  Unfortunately, I seemed to keep getting sick right before I was scheduled to ski so I ended up canceling a lot.  On a side note, Mr. Martin my 7th grade English teacher corrected me when I spelled a lot as alot and I have never gotten that one wrong since.  Back to skiing again. I made it to a couple of races and did pretty well.  I do wish that there were more people to race against in this area.  It would just make it more fun and I would get to meet more people who ski like I do.  My new ski has taken a lot of getting used to.  It is like going from a used car to a sports car.  I went to the Maine Adaptive mono ski camp and Geoff Krill really helped me figure out the new ski and got me skiing it really well by the end of the 3 days.  He is really good at what he does and is able to pick up on the little things that make a huge difference. He suggested lengthening my outriggers and that changed everything.  I, of course, can still improve and I will for sure.  I bought a pass for next year so I am hoping to at least get every weekend to ski next season and really ramp things up for my future endeavors.

Presentations

I have been doing presentations for various groups about my adventures and things I have learned from them.  I did a few this winter for Paradox Sports, Husson University class, and Telstar High School freshman academy.  I am really starting to enjoy that part of what I am doing.  In the beginning, I tried just reading the whole thing and that just seemed to make things harder.  I would lose my place and get flustered and then things felt like they went downhill from there.  I decided to just use the notes as a reference and conduct things as more of a conversation.  That really made things so much better and I actually started to enjoy it. I added interactive questions on the suggestion of Gary Dunn.  It was really interesting to hear the responses from some of the audience and get to know them on a more personal level.  I hope to be able to do this more in the future and really get the message out that anyone can do anything.

The mighty

I have also in the past few months, become a contributor to a website called themighty.com.  This is a community of people with varying disabilities that contribute blog posts.  We write about anything and everything related to our lives living with disabilities.  I have written mostly about my life and observations I have made while living that life.  Actually, that is the reason I started writing this post in the first place. I made an observation last night on a grocery shopping trip to Walmart.  I had purchased a new book bag at this Walmart a few days ago and when I left I noticed the theft alarm went off but didn’t think anything of it and the person attending to the doors let me leave.  It sometimes goes off for no reason apparently.  So I was leaving the store again last night and the alarm went off again.  Clearly, this was no coincidence and something about that bag was setting it off.  So I stopped and told the attendant that I had purchased the bag on my wheelchair there a few days ago and she was welcome to check it over.  Her response to the situation is what struck me.  First, she appeared very nervous and didn’t want to check things out. Then I said to her its ok if you want to check it out I don’t mind.  I obviously wasn’t stealing and knew that fact.  What came out of her mouth next didn’t bother me at first until I had time to think about what unfolded.  She looked at my girlfriend and not at me and said it seems kinda rude to check.  She was saying this because I use a wheelchair. So on my way home, I started thinking about this response.  Why do we treat people with disabilities with kid gloves?  We are still responsible adults and should be treated as such.  It was her job to make sure I wasn’t stealing when that alarm went off and just like anyone else that set the alarm off I should have been checked out.  Come to find out when I got home I found the anti-theft device still on the bag.  I checked the receipt and I did pay for it so I know I didn’t steal it for sure.  The difference is the woman at Walmart had no way of knowing that and just because I am in a wheelchair I shouldn’t get a pass.

Movie about El Capitan

If you are a friend of mine on social media then you have likely seen this already, but if not, The North Face released a trailer for the movie about my El Capitan ascent.  I am really pleased with how well it has been received and for all the attention it is bringing to adaptive climbing and the great work that Paradox Sports does.  Craig Muderlak has done an unbelievable job putting it all together and I can’t wait to see the full result in a few weeks.  The merchandise for the Kickstarter Campaign is also finished so he should be getting that out to everyone that contributed not long after the movie is released.  The North Face and Paradox Sports have also teamed up to start an adaptive climbing initiative to bring the sport of climbing to people of all abilities across the entire country. Make sure to check out their website by clicking on the logo on my site.  You will find information about this new collaboration as well as information about upcoming climbing trips and other information.  Speaking of the Paradox website, you can also find my ambassador page there.  That’s right they asked me to be an ambassador this year and I couldn’t be more excited to help get the word out about this amazing organization so please check out the site and help make things happen.

Joshua tree national park

One of the trips that Paradox Sports is doing, is to Joshua Tree National Park.  I will be flying out this coming Monday to embark on a week of learning.  I want to elevate my climbing skills to be able to lead, build anchors, be there to help rescue a teammate and many other skills. I would also love to be able to push my skills to the level of being able to teach someday and this trip will set me on that path. I have never been to Joshua Tree so I am also really excited to see all the beauty it has to offer.  I can’t wait to be able to post pictures and blog about it so be waiting for that in a couple of weeks.  As part of this trip, I will be staying in the Palo Alto area to work with FXPAL for a few days.  I interned with this company last summer and had a blast using all the new technology.  We are going to be working with drones and some other technology so I am excited to able to report on that too.  For the finale to the trip I am visiting my friend Jonathan Parker in the Tahoe area and we are going to do some skiing at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.  With the epic snowfall they have gotten this year it should be pretty amazing.  So stay tuned for all those updates when I get back.

Mt. rainier

I am in the early stages of planning some training trips for Mt. Rainier and then planning to actually ascend Mt. Rainier.  This will be much different from my ascent of El Capitan as I will be skiing in some fashion up and down the mountain. At least that is the proposed plan as of right now. We were planning to do a training route this season but things didn’t quite come to fruition with the amount of time we had to pull it off.  That is probably better anyway since this will give us months to get things planned out really well and make it as safe an adventure as we can.  I definitely can’t wait to make this all happen, though. This is the reason I got started down this path in the first place.  I won’t stop there, though.  There is a world of adventure out there and I aim to take in as much of it as I can with the life I am given.

Well, that should about catch things up for now.  I hope you all enjoy reading this and if you have suggestions about what you might like me to write about leave some comments and I will do my best to make it happen.  Also feel free to share my posts around and get as many eyes on it as possible.  You never know who might benefit.

Links of Interest:

The North Face Trailer:

Kelly Brush Foundation

DynAccess 

The Mighty

Posted by Enock Glidden on Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Dialing in My New Ski

Six Degrees of Nick Hall

Planning for rainier

Over the past week or so I have been discussing my next adventure, an ascent of Mt. Rainier,  with Gary Dunn, my friend and climbing guide.  We have been getting advice from various people on what type of equipment to use as well as the various methods of ascending.  Some people have used a make shift pedal bike on tracks an others have skied under their own power.  We have been discussing using fixed ropes with an ascender and I would essentially be doing horizontal pull ups on the rope while sliding along on a sit ski.

We have also given some thought to various training routes in the New Hampshire mountains.  As of right now we are possibly going to do an ascent of Mt Moosilauke at the end of February to test out what ever methods we decide might be feasible to get me up Mt. Rainier.

In the process of all this discussion Gary found a sleeping bag good down to -20 degrees for sale and decided to order it for me as it was a screaming deal.  When he ordered he explained to the seller what it was for and she told him a story about the sleeping bag and how it came to be that she was selling it.

The sleeping bag story

Her name is Marcia McCarroll and she told me when I emailed her to thank her for her generosity, that she had held onto that sleeping bag for 7 years.  The reason I wrote to thank her by the way is because she decided to pay the shipping for the bag to help out with my mission.  So back to her story.  She held onto that bag for 7 years because it was her husband who as it happens was also an adventure seeker.  He unfortunately was lost on Denali 7 years ago and was never found and she has held onto that bag for all this time because it was all she had left from that tragic moment in life.  For some reason she decided this past Saturday that it was time to pass it on to someone else and posted it for sale. She said she had over 10 offers for the bag but something told her it should go to me.

I told her the story of what inspired me to go on this journey of seeking adventure, explaining that I had a friend who passed away on Mt. Rainier while performing his duties as a rescue ranger.  For some reason I did not tell her his name though in that email.  She wrote back and asked if my friend’s name was Nick Hall.  Of course I replied yes that we had grown up together and were really good friends when we were younger.

six degrees of nick hall

This is where the title comes in.  She then told me she was on Rainier when the helicopters were trying to rescue Nick’s body from Rainier.  She was there as a way to honor her husband and do something big. As I am writing this it makes me tear up and gives me chills because this is why I am trying to get up Rainier. I want to be able to see what Nick did and in some way honor his memory.

As I have been on this incredible ride I have noticed things along the way that have lead me to believe Nick is somehow steering the trip.  Another instance when I was in Yosemite Valley this fall I met the chief of staff of the park, Mike Gauthier, and we were talking and I also told him the story of what sent me down this path.  He said he was Nick’s boss at Rainier and that Nick had stayed at his house in Yosemite for 2 weeks the summer of his passing.

After my first trip to Yosemite I was doing presentations to raise money to go back.  As I was preparing my presentation I went to Nick’s Facebook page to look at his pictures and I found one of him on Washington Column.  This was another wow moment because that is the rock I had just climbed a month before.

All of this reflection has solidified my belief that things happen for a reason and I can’t wait to find out what else is in store and where this all leads.

A Night Amongst The Stars

Judging by my title you might think I am writing about another adventure sleeping outside on a portaledge somewhere away from it all and staring up at the stars.  Not this time, this time I am writing about the stars of climbing.

I recently had the opportunity, thanks to Google Maps and Sandy Russell, to spend an evening in Westminster Colorado, at the Access Fund annual dinner and fundraiser.  I went to Google Maps this summer to visit Sandy and she offered to give me a ticket to the dinner and sit at the Google table.  There was no way I could pass that up so I of course said yes. As luck would have it another ticket became available and my girlfriend also known as Sandy got to go with me.

This truly was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I was able to listen to Tommy Caldwell, who most of you may know from he and Kevin  Jorgensons successful attempt to  pull off the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in 2014. If you aren’t a climber a free ascent is using ropes only to catch your fall. I actually got to meet him at the end of the night right before we caught our taxi back to the hotel. We talked about my recent ascent of Zodiac and how he had done the same route previously. I had actually seen him before in the cafeteria at Yosemite but he was with his family so I chose to leave him alone. I am really grateful for the opportunity I had to meet him and be able to actually talk to and learn from him. He is a fine example of what a famous athlete should strive to be.  His presentation was funny, engaging, and I learned a lot about the history of climbing.

While I was waiting to talk to Tommy I had the privilege of talking to Kelly Cordes another famous climber and as he put it Tommy’s sidekick haha.  That isn’t really true though Kelly is definitely a major climber and on just as high a level.  I had a great time talking to him about why we climb and other things related to climbing. I also got to sit with Kelly at our table the entire night too.

I also had the unbelievable experience of sitting next to Lynn Hill the entire night and being able to talk to her about the things Tommy was saying and hearing her tell me about some of the people he mentioned really added a lot to what I was hearing.  I actually knew I would be meeting her from the email list that Sandy Russell sent out before the dinner.  I peeked at the other recipients of the email and saw Lynn Hill’s name and I have to say I didn’t quite believe it was that Lynn Hill until I saw her at the table haha.  I saw that name in the list and thought to myself there is no way that is really her but sure enough it was.  Tommy actually mentioned her accomplishment of being the first person ever to free climb the Nose, coincidentally Tommy Caldwell did the third and fifth free ascents of the Nose.  When Tommy mentioned Lynn’s accomplishment she leaned over to me and said “It took me 10 years”, to which I replied ” But it happened”.  Which reminds me of something Kelly and I talked about, the approach-ability of the worlds best climbers.  It is unlike any other sport where you can just stroll up to a Tommy Calwell or Lynn Hill and they treat you like you are part of the group,  Other sports don’t have that aspect where you most likely have to pay to meet a star of the sport at an autograph signing and for the most part they are cut off from their fans.  It really is a community.

A friend and also famous climber Timmy O’ Neill was the MC for the event and before starting he came over talk to Sandy and I.  He wrote down some info and I knew then that he was going to mention us at some point during the night.  It happened right before Shelma Jun’s speech.  It was pretty surreal to have Lynn Hill, Tommy Caldwell and other world famous climbers clapping for my achievement as little as it may be.  I say that because I know others who have done it before me so I see it as a big self accomplishment but in the world of climbing it really isn’t that big of a deal.

This is definitely a night I will never forget and I came away with a great appreciation for all the people that have paved the way for people like me and my friends to be able to dream of the impossible and make it possible.

Links of interest:

Lynn Hill Climbing

Tommy Caldwell

Kelly Cordes

Timmy O’ Neill

The Access Fund

Bryce Canyon National Park

The last of the national parks that we visited on the trip home from California was Bryce Canyon National Park.  The park is another amazing example of the rugged beauty of the western United States.

We decided to drive through the park again this time even though there is a shuttle service because we actually had limited time to see everything. We drove all the way to the end of the park road and started our tour from there.

Our first stop was Rainbow Point and it definitely didn’t disappoint.  The views from each vista along the road are some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen.  It is like nothing you can see anywhere else other than the Grand Canyon.  This also was the first time I had seen a hoodoo in person or even realized what a hoodoo was actually called.  Hoodoos are the tall spires of rock in the canyons.  You will see plenty of them in my photo album below.

Each stop along the scenic route in the park hides something new and interesting to see, from natural bridges to interesting caves carved out of the rock to vast expanses of beautifully carved scenery.  Each view had me wanting to go beyond the fence and get a closer look and at sunset point there actually was trails out into the canyons that allowed people to walk along the rim of some of the carved out stone.  When I go back I plan to find my way out onto those trails.  I just didn’t have time this trip.

Another vista point along the way was Farview Point aptly named because on most days you can see 160 miles to the Black Mesas of Arizona and 90 miles to Navajo Mountain on the border of Utah and Arizona.  The day we were there was no exception.  We could see for miles and the beauty was unparalleled by anything I have ever seen.  Off the left of the point is Piracy Point.  There is a really well done trail with a solid dirt surface that is easy to navigate.  The trail takes you all the way to the edge of the point with no fence.  Of course I had to get as close as possible to look down and see what I could see and scared Sandy a bit.  I finally was able to get beyond that fence even for just a few minutes.

All in all the park does a really great job of making everything very accessible and even putting viewing spots in the fences to look through for people who can’t see over the top of them.  This truly is one of those otherworldly rugged places that everyone must see for themselves.  I have been very impressed with our national park service and the job they do in making these extraordinary places accessible to everyone.

Posted by Enock Glidden on Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bryce Canyon National Park

Death Valley National Park

With a name like Death Valley National Park, one might picture dead things and vast spaces of nothing with no beauty to be found.  This is what I thought before my trip to the park.  I am here to tell you that I was very wrong.  While there are definitely views of vast amounts of nothing on the surface, it is when you really look and stop to admire the spaces that you will see beauty.

Before I get to all of that though let me tell you about the adventure before the adventure.  The drive from my aunt and uncles home in Sonora, CA to Beatty, NV where we stayed the night before visiting the park was one of the most adventurous drives I have ever experienced.  First we ended up trying to go through Sonora Pass which was closed due to snow but we were unaware of that until about 40 miles into the trip when we go to the orange cones blocking the road. So after turning around and driving back to Sonora we realized we had a lot longer day ahead of us.  We would have to drive all the way around Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Park and the Sequoia National Forest to just get headed toward the park.  So after miles of interstate and heat, the fun really began.  It was of course dark when we hit the open spaces of the unknown.  Where you drive for miles and only see more of the same weeds and desert.  I have to say I have never been more scared while driving and I live in Maine where we drive in blizzards.  I would take whiteout conditions any day over wind and sand pummeling the van and making it impossible to see.  At one point we topped a hill and I couldn’t tell where the road was due to so much sand on the road and it blowing across the road in what felt like a tornado or hurricane. Not long after that little scare I came around a corner to see 10 or so donkeys right in the road.  I have to say that is a first for me.  I had never even seen the look for donkeys sign until this trip.  I have seen cows, horses and all sorts of wild animals but never this.

Another moment that made us both feel uneasy was driving through a mining town of which I fail to remember the name.  It was like being in a Stephen King novel where the unsuspecting tourists get lost and wander into a mining town looking for help. Hey maybe that’s a new book idea haha!  It was still in operation and there was still clearly people living there but it had this look of being rundown and partially abandoned.  It probably would be completely different in the daylight though.

In order to get to our hotel we had to drive through the park to the other side into Beatty Nevada.  Our hotel was very unique.  It was completely themed in aliens rom the outside to the rooms.  I was never so happy to see an alien after that drive haha. Beatty is an interesting little town that really plays up the alien and western theme.  I wish we had more time to explore there and go into some of the old west businesses but our schedule just didn’t allow for it.

We headed into Death Valley National Park the next day and it didn’t disappoint.  This was another example of very rugged beauty.  It was also very accessible which I definitely would not have thought. We stuck to Furnace Creek Area as it seemed to have the most accessible and easily accessed features. The road that goes through the valley is very strategically placed to allow access to some pretty spectacular and otherworldly terrain.  It was as if we were on another planet the entire time.  We were able to see a number of interesting places like Devils Golf Course, Artist’s Drive and Badwater Basin,

Devils Golf Course is an example of a large salt pan made up of large halite salt crystal formations.  I guess you could compare it to being on volcanic rock. It is very sharp and unforgiving hence the name.  The vast open space of it really gives the sense of being on another planet.

Artists Drive was an unexpected gem of a find.  When you think of death you don’t think of natural beauty.  This drive was definitely naturally occurring art right in the mountains.  That is another thing I didn’t expect was eleven thousand foot mountains.  I had pictured the park as just flat desert.  It certainly was not flat.  So back to Artist’s Drive, the colors in the mountains almost seemed like they couldn’t possibly occur naturally  It was truly breathtaking.  It was something new and even more beautiful around every corner.  Artist’s Palette is definitely worth driving the loop just to see this one spot.  It really is a palette of the most amazing colors you have ever seen.

Our final stop before heading onto the next adventure was Badwater Basin.  This is the lowest point in the United States at 282 feet below sea level. There isn’t a ton to see other than to say you have been to the lowest point in the U.S.,  There is an interesting sign up on the mountains that shows you where sea level really is which is kinda interesting to think about.  If it was near the sea you would potentially be under 282 ft of water.

I would say we hit this park at the right time of year as it was warm but not hot and not a lot of people.  I would definitely recommend seeing it for yourself because I can’t do it justice in pictures and words.

Posted by Enock Glidden on Wednesday, October 19, 2016

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