Back from a short trip.. to begin, “on belay!” “BELAY ON!” “climbing!” “CLIMB ON!” I sob half hopelessly as I try to thrust my body over a ridge and up a steep rock (already 70 feet off ground) to begin my climb of another couple hundred feet up a crack facing flat rock. I’m all hooked up with ropes and after five minutes or so of absolute fear I hear a shout coming from up and behind a ledge “JUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!” I swing my body up and over and somehow get my hands to grasp the top and hazardously shimmy myself to the top where a resting spot is. I’m breathing real heavy, unsure of what actually just happened. I try not to look down. I look at my hand instead and notice a one inch wide blister which had formed and popped at the bottom of my left hand. i give a shout up the rope, “My hand has a huge blister!” “JUST KEEP GOING!” well okay. The next twenty feet were tough (mostly because I was insanely high and climbing a flat rock with a rope lifeline. so much of rock climbing is mental..) but after that it got fun as I wedged myself up a crack, twisting in and out of hidden rock pockets. I finally get to the top and then repeled down. The first few steps are terrifying because you’re holding your own rope to let yourself down as you allow your body to fall backwards a couple hundred feet. You then just walk yourself down and slowly let out rope until you hit bottom. I’m pretty lucky there was a rock for me to land on and then scramble down because my rope ran out! From there we had to do yet another repel, which is actually really fun once you get over the fear (and even the fear is fun anyhow) But you can run all along the rock face and make wild jumps across and into dips and cracks and wow its just incredible being suspended across the desert, dashing across a giant boulder. sigh… So then we take a trip to Wall Street Mill which didn’t strike too rich but has some of the most gorgeous remains. An old windmill which I climbed, piles of wood and smooth clay, a huge tank which sounds like thunder when you rumble it just right, and further down the road a sunk in rusted truck and a standing rock carved with the words, “Here is where worth Bagley bit the dust at the hand of W.F. Keys, May 11, 1943” Later I learn all sorts of crazy tales about the two men, and all the sketchy mining operations of the area.. Coming back on trail I see a glowing structure in the distance hidden behind smoke trees. We follow a dried river bed and find the most beautiful place in the world. The sun is setting and the old house is painted coral pink, lighted against the desert brush and cool hills. There’s some neat folk art left behind too. I would like to spend an eternity dwelling in this place.. I start walking up old pathways and find various left behinds and crumbling aways. It feels most like a dream, as its hidden from the empty dryness of the valley. Trees and bushes carved with old river paths create an endless labyrinthe.. I don’t mind taking a while trying to find our way out.. By that time our heads are hurting from not drinking enough during the climb so we set camp at Jumbo Rocks, make tea, eat berries and call it a night. I dream of being in the desert and finding a small table. I start digging underneath it and find several rows of cloth dolls, each smaller than my pinky finger. Some are colorful and others are completely white except for thin red stitching. I dig a foot down or so finding more as I dig deep. They feel like little blessings. Like they were calling me from under the Earth.. I put the dolls back in, cover them with dirt again then leave. I wake up and we hit the road. Make our way to Desert Queen Mine.. Keep stumbling across old structures with nothing left except a metal bedframe or spring mattress.. eerie.. as if these sleeping spots were too heavy with another man’s dreams to carry away. After Desert Queen, we head into Silver Bell and spend several hours hiking around, in total awe of the gorgeous rainbow rocks unnaturally exploding from the Earth. Wow.. We carry a few into my car then keep on. Try and get out to Red Cloud but the road gets rough and we even get stuck trying to turn around so we leave and promise to come back another day. Get back home and cut off my blister. I feel lovely.