Weekend Adventures!

Happy Monday Everyone!

I had a crazy fun weekend and a great week of training. I’ll update you on how the training went in my recap, but for now, I am going to tell you all about my weekend adventures. I figured that since Frank and I spend every weekend on some sort of adventure, I should start a blog series on what we do and where we go. This series will be very photo heavy interspersed with what we were up to!

Most weekends are spent backpacking, hiking, climbing, trail running, or some sort of outdoor activity. This weekend, we did a little bit of everything! Frank, our friend, Ben, and I took Friday off from work and drove out to Arkansas Thursday night for some sweet sport climbing and hiking in the Ozark Mountains.

We made it to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in the AM and went straight out to some of the more popular climbing spots in the canyon. Now, before I was a distance runner, I was a climber. In fact, distance running was a way to get me in better shape for mountaineering. Soon, running became my main passion, but being able to climb all day is still pretty awesome.

Ben made it up his first climb EVER!! I was super happy to see him enjoy the climbs the way I do!

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After a full day of climbing, we went for a short hike through the Buffalo River Gorge. If you are ever in the southern Midwest, this is a place you HAVE to go!

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It doesn’t get much better than this!

We got back to the ranch just before dark, hung out with some goats (they had like 100 baby goats), and went to bed.

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The hills were covered in tents and dirtbag climbers.

Saturday morning and afternoon was filled with some of the tallest climbs I’ve ever done. These walls were about 85 feet tall and had some of the most fantastic views from the top. We climbed until our arms tired out and went back to the Buffalo River Gorge for the National Park Service Centennial Concert.

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This route went WAY higher than I am right there!

The concert was packed, and in such a beautiful place.

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Frank and I were making some faces at each other during the concert… also that guy behind us…

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Tons of people made it out for the concert!

Post concert, we packed up our backpacks and hiked into the woods a few miles to find a campsite. The Buffalo River Gorge is right up against a National Forest, where there is free camping all along the trail. All National Forests have free camping in the wilderness, so if you are ever in a pinch, it’s a good place to make an overnight stop.

We woke up Sunday morning with the sunlight coming in. I tried to stay asleep in my bivy, but Frank was not having it.

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To cut on weight and mass, I use a bivy instead of a tent. They are waterproof and super easy to set up and take down.

Before heading back to Manhattan, we went for a hike to a cave at the Lost Valley Trail. The Ozark Mountains are filled with great little spots, but this one was just fantastic. There were natural bridges, three caves (one had a waterfall inside), and a ton of scenic overlooks to view the valley.

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Crawling out of a cave.

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Frank and Ben beneath the Natural Bridge.

After the hike, we ate some lunch and made the 6 hour trip back to Manhattan, KS. Although we expected this to be a rather uneventful ride, as we got close to town, we heard on the radio that a tornado had touched down just west of town. The roads were quiet except for the occasional storm chaser vehicle driving by (good sign, right?). We stopped to overlook some of the crazy weather, but were advised that if we wanted to get back to Manhattan, that we should do so immediately. We made it back and into the basement, but the warning was lifted about 15 minutes later. Aside from some flooding, Manhattan made it through the storm untouched.

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Rather ominous looking clouds over Manhattan, KS.

So, we did a little bit of everything this weekend! I even managed to squeeze in some miles between our adventures. How was your weekend? Did you go on any adventures?

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10 thoughts on “Weekend Adventures!

  1. Whoa! Glad you dodged that tornado bullet!! I always seem to forget when it’s “that time of year”. I remember as a kid I used to be deathly afraid that we’d have a tornado. If the sirens went off – which, growing up in Iowa, was fairly regularly – I’d practically have a panic attack.

    Your weekend adventures look awesome! Caves rock. I love how outdoorsy you two are!

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    • Do you go caving? I know there are some great caves in Illinois and Indiana, but I’m not so sure about Wisconsin. We’ve been looking for some in Missouri, but getting access is hard.

      I am definitely nervous about tornado season. We are supposed to get hit pretty hard by thunderstorms tonight. Hopefully it passes by without too many problems.

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  2. I did not know you were a climber! Climbing is something completely foreign to me and honestly scares me a lot. Oh something else I am afraid of- tornadoes!!! We get them in PA. I don’t understand how, I thought they were for KS and the Wizard of OZ!

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    • It’s scary until you get used to using the ropes and stuff. I remember when I first started that it took me a while to trust my belayer and my harness. You should find a gym and try it out. It’s a pretty fun activity!

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  3. What a cool weekend!!! I miss rock climbing so much; I used to love it. I love that you guys are so into nature. When we camp, we bring along so many creature-comforts, like a griddle and coffee pot haha. In Florida camping has to happen in winter or we’ll roast to death, and there are rarely fun things to do in the parks where we camp. But we do go once in awhile.

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    • Some of my favorite parks are in Florida. The Ocala National Forest has tons of hiking, backpacking, and camping. It is kind of hard to do anything in Florida without a kayak or canoe. Generally, I’m pretty good at living without normal comforts… but coffee is an absolute must!

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  4. WOW what a great weekend outdoors! I didn’t realize that you liked climbing, that must be such a great strength workout! I would love to know more about climbing. How did you get into it, what cool/historic places have you climbed, what has been your favorite place to climb and why?!

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    • It is a great strength workout. I got started in a climbing gym in Gainesville when I was in college. I eventually went out with a few friends to North Carolina to climb outdoors and loved it so much that I bought my own gear. I frequented the Red River Gorge in Slade, KY and the New River Gorge in West Virginia. I’ve also been climbing at the Escarpment in Hamilton, Ontario, a few places in the UP of Michigan, the Teton Range in Wyoming, and a few places in Colorado. It’s always tons of fun. My favorite place is probably the New River Gorge in WV because of the fantastic views you get of the New River while on the rocks. Frank and I are hoping to make a trip out to Utah to go climbing. They have some world class stuff out there. If you are interested in trying it, you should go to Coral Cliffs in Fort Lauderdale. They have a great gym (I’ve been there a few times) and they’ll teach you how to belay and use the ropes. I think you would really enjoy it and I bet you’d be great at it. Just remember to use your legs more than your arms!

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  5. WOW! What an adventure!!! I am desperately in need of a good camping trip and some hiking/exploring after reading this. Awesome that you squeezed in a few miles in there, too!! You are awesome. Great pictures!!

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