Our first night in Maple Canyon found us tired and road-worn. Our Garmin GPS (or just Garmin, as we call her; i.e. “Be quiet Garmin.”) had taken us on the scenic route through acres of farmland and fields of goats, cattle, sheep and even one plot of about a hundred little llamas. After Moab, Central Utah seemed exotic, with its grassy lushness and pastoral beauty. We must have seemed pretty exotic as well, because the good people of the Beehive State stared at us wherever we went.
Anyway, we were in Maple Canyon to connect with Spencer McCroskey, a proud dirt-bag climber and, as luck would have it, excellent camp chef. Spencer graduated from Fort Lewis College like Allie and Greer, though we could never quite figure out how we knew him. Our closest guess was a sort of fraternal bond between he and Allie – they had both, at separate times, lived in the same house on historic 3rd Ave.
Spencer lives in Las Vegas now and makes his money rigging lights. He escapes the city whenever he can to climb, which he was doing when we caught up with him. He came to Utah alone, but quickly ran into friends and camped with them. We spent some time with him in the Canyon, and around every corner was another group of his climbing buddies- a perfect example of the outdoor community’s bond that we are exploring in the film.
Maple Canyon is a unique place to climb, with towering walls made out of cobblestone-sized conglomerate. We tried it out ourselves, with varied success. I had never climbed before, and Spencer patiently taught me about knots, technique and the life-preserving physics of belaying. I watched Allie and Greer work up the wall, sticking to the surface like salamanders. When it was my turn on the rock I could hardly believe how challenging it was, and felt every inch of the mere five feet I gained.
The campfire that night found us all as friends, and we talked and ate and relaxed together. We’re heading to California next, but not without going through Vegas first – luckily Spencer gave us some tips on dirt-bagging in sin city.