Sleep In The Dirt

Make It An Adventure And Go For The SKT

Essays From the Field

The Slowest Known Time

Drawn to the red dirt of the American Southwest, we are on a road trip around Moab, UT checking out national parks, rock climbing, skinny dipping, and playing in the canyons. While driving to the southern entrance to Canyonlands, I couldn’t resist the urge to attempt to climb a tower.

“Okay, I’m not sure the van is going to make it down this road, but I have an idea, just hear me out,” I say with a smirk. “Um, do you remember the last time you said that?” Kristin responds with a glare. “I kinda blocked it out of my mind, thank you for the reminder. This idea is different…” rolling her eyes, Kristin let me spill out my idea, “If the van makes it down this road, I know that we could go light, cruise up this thing, and be back before lunch, but, what if we decided to make it an adventure?”

I had been to Indian Creek twice before but never a Six Shooter. So, we passed through the gate and wandered down a dirt road, in the van, until the road condition was outside of my comfort zone. Parking just before a drop in the road, I was pitching my alternative idea to Kristin.

“What do you mean, ‘an adventure’?” Kristin asks.

“Great question! We pack our backpacks and grab the tent, the rack, a stove, coffee, and some food. Then we hike as far as we want, preferably with a good view, and sleep for the night. Wake up, drink some coffee and bask in the glory of the Six Shooters. Once we are done with breakfast, go summit. How does that sound?” “Sounds like we are going to set the slowest known time…”

Packing our Sundog 45 and Prospector 50 packs, we head towards the red tower in the southern aspect of the skyline. From the base, the hike up looks daunting, but step after step the burn in the thighs isn’t bad.

“Are we there yet?” I say in an obnoxious voice.

“I don’t know, sure.”

“Perfect! I like this spot, let’s set up camp.”

“Actually?”

“Yeah!”

“Thank goodness, I’m ready for dinner!”

In less than 30 minutes, we had camp established and food prepared. It was time to relax, take in the sunset colors, and enjoy the company. We had hoped to layout and enjoy the stars, but the cloud coverage became thick after dark, blocking the stars, so we made it to bed early.

“Rise and shine, it’s time to climb!” “UGH… do you have coffee ready for me?” Kristin says poking an eye out of her sleeping bag. “Yup, coffee ready.” “Oh okay, I am up!”

Initially, we were going to make haste this morning, but then we realized we were on a recordsetting adventure, so we took our time. We stopped rushing and took our coffee and oatmeal to the bluff to enjoy it. Eventually, we pack a bag with the gear and started for the base of the climb.

With our safety checks complete, Kristin looked at me and said, “You’re on belay.” Leaning in for a reassuring chicken peck, we kiss, and I say “Climbing!” “Climb on!”

Stretching the rope past the first belay station, I was up there to have fun and play on rocks. Even though the rope drag was bad, I made my way to the second anchor with a 70-meter rope.

“Hey Kristin, I’m in-direct, off belay.” “Off-Belay!”

Kristin made her way up to me and we were off on the next pitch for the short 5.7 crux just after clipping a bolt. In the back of my mind, thoughts of gratitude were continually popping up. We couldn’t have picked a better day. Clouds moved overhead, the breeze kept us cool, and the sun was still out. Taking the time to look around and appreciate the views while climbing was something I hadn’t done in a long while. Excited to be well within my comfort zone and standing atop the tower, I knew this adventure was a good idea and grateful to have an adventure partner willing to go slow.

As we repelled down, other people were making their way to the base of the climb. “Dang you all got after it this morning,” they would say. Kristin and I looked at each other, laughed a little, and responded together, “Nah, we are going for the slowest known time. It’ll probably be a 26-hour outing, but hopefully, we can make it longer.

”About the author: Dalton Johnson is an adventure photographer and writer focused on non-motorized adventures in the mountains and oceans. Check out his work on his website or follow him on Instagram. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Dalton on Instagram DM, or via his website


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