Visits Facilitate Adventures

A couple weekends ago Matt’s cousins came to visit us from California. His cousin Kelsey was passing through on a roadtrip with her boyfriend David, and Kelsey’s brother Chris flew in just for the weekend. Obviously we had to throw down and show them the best of Mountain West! (Take note, Mom & Dad!)

Friday night we had people over to celebrate Matt finally finishing his exams (which he passed, by the way)! I made some homemade ginger beergaritas and set out snacks. Afterwards, at their request, we took Kelsey and David to the Buckhorn, a historic downtown Laramie establishment with a real live bullet hole in the mirrored wall behind the bar.

The next morning we had some breakfast burritos and made our sleepy way out to Medicine Bow National Forest for some snowshoeing. Matt had rented us snowshoes the day before. And yes, there is still snow on the ground up there – like, deep snow.

From L to R: Kelsey, Matt, and David on the ascent
From L to R: Kelsey, Matt (our fearless guide!), and David on the ascent

We parked in a pull-off next to some snowmobilers and cross country skiers, about 45 minutes from our house, strapped on our snowshoes, and headed waywardly toward Medicine Bow Peak.

View of a frozen lake on our way up
View of a frozen lake on our way up

The snow’s consistency alternated between icy in the shade and slushy in the sun, which is why we were there in the morning, before the snow turned entirely to slush. Even snowshoes can sink in snow like that.

Matt, David, and Kelsey taking in the view
Matt, David, and Kelsey taking in the view

As you can see by our outfits, it wasn’t particularly cold; the snow is still there because there’s so much of it, though the temperature does drop to below freezing at night up there.

We did it!
We did it!

After the somewhat treacherous descent (snowshoes aren’t really designed to go downhill), we had lunch at the Beartree Tavern in Centennial on the way back to Laramie. Kelsey and I had their famous “bestest ever” green chili, and we all shared some pie a la mode for dessert.

Chris flew into Denver, rented a car, and met us at our house in Laramie that afternoon. With a bad weather forecast looming, we drove about a half hour up to a small sport climbing area off Happy Jack Road near Vedauwoo affectionately called Beehive Buttress.

We got rained on almost immediately, but we stuck it out through the scattered showers to do some climbing. It always surprises me how much colder it is up on the mountain than in the Laramie valley. The wind is usually worse once you’re on an exposed, rocky mountaintop too.

Kelsey and Chris had done a little climbing when they visited us in North Carolina a few years ago, so they made all the climbs we put up for them look easy. (Also I’m convinced Matt’s genetics make him and his cousins predisposed toward climbing.) Abe didn’t do any climbing, but he found some mud and promptly sat in it.

Back in town, we rushed to Jeffrey’s before they closed at 9 (on a Saturday night, yep. Welcome to Laramie!) to get some dinner.

On Sunday morning we drove up to Vedauwoo to show our visitors the classic climbing areas. We hiked around a little, met up with our friends Meredith and Bart, and convinced them to put up a fun 5.8 crack climb called Captain Nemo for us.

Meredith belays Bart as he places gear up Captain Nemo, 5.8
Meredith belays Bart as he places gear up Captain Nemo, 5.8

We got rained on a little at Vedauwoo too, but it blew over shortly and the sun came back out to keep the Californians semi-warm.

The view from the bottom of Captain Nemo
The view across the valley from the bottom of Captain Nemo

Kelsey and David had to drive to North Dakota that afternoon to continue their roadtrip, so they left Vedauwoo around noon. Chris, Matt, and I started to get hungry (we hadn’t packed lunch, oops!), so we drove back into town to get burgers at The Crowbar & Grill.

Chris at the bottom of Captain Nemo
Chris at the bottom of Captain Nemo

After lunch we went back up to Vedauwoo and did a two-pitch 5.7 called Edward’s Crack. “Pitches” is just an indicator of the length of rope. So if a climbing route is longer than a single pitch, you can’t get all the way to the top with a single standard 60-70m rope. Instead, the climbers have to stop at some point on the way up, set up an “anchor” from which to belay, and inchworm their way up the mountain; the leader climbs up first with the rope, and the other climber follows, bringing up the rest of the rope, and this pattern continues up each pitch of the climb.

Doing a multi-pitch route with three people is a little complicated and time-consuming, so we all had lots of time to check out the view from the middle and top of the climb.

We watched the sun set from the summit, and rappelled back down in time to hike back to the car at dusk. Sufficiently worn out from all that climbing and hiking, we crashed on the couch and watched half of a movie while eating some shaved asparagus pizza, yum!

I had to work on Monday, but before I woke up at 7, Matt and Chris were already gone snowhoeing up at Medicine Bow Peak since Chris missed it on Saturday morning. Needless to say, Matt was pretty exhausted when I came home at lunch to walk Abe. He basically lived on the couch for the next couple days.

If the weather chooses to be agreeable, you really can pack a lot of adventures into one little weekend here in Laramie!

Love to all.

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