Journal

Monthly Recap // July 2019

Post Heading // Forest Tourist

What went on:

June was primarily spent adjusting to life on the ranch and preparing for the upcoming season. Despite the promise of warmer weather that typically comes with the summer solstice, Wyoming frequently peppered us with out-of-the-blue snowstorms and rainy weather that brought with it chilling winds. Even though summer seems like a lifetime away, I’m trying to remind myself to cherish these colder afternoons before they are rapidly replaced with dry and dusty hot flashes.

John and I tried not to let the poor weather get us down, however. We started out the month by climbing in Sinks Canyon State Park outside of Lander, Wyoming, which was unbearably hot but so much fun. Lately we have leaned more towards trad climbing, so it was a little nostalgic to go to a crowded crag and sport climb for an afternoon.

Later in the month I was able to check off something from my climbing goals list: climb one of the peaks in Medicine Bow National Forest. The stark quartzite features that shimmer and shine above the alpine lakes have been on my mind ever since I first set eyes on them last year. Our good friend Vitor invited John and I to scout out the conditions at Med Bow one day after work, and before we knew it we were snowshoeing up to the base of Schoolhouse Rock (the shortest face in the range, but still two pitches plus some scrambling) and racking up for the climb.

As I mentioned before, I have done a lot of multipitch trad climbs with John recently, but climbing Medicine Bow seemed unlike anything I had done before. Usually the exposure doesn’t get to me while I’m up on the wall, but the combination of dangerous snow and rocks at the base and the howling wind that cut through my layers made me uncomfortable as I stood on top of the first pitch. All of that faded away, though, when I started climbing to the summit. Medicine Bow was a unique combination of intense discomfort and fear contrasted with pure elation as I went up some of the most fun climbing I have ever done.

In June we also had the opportunity to return to Boulder to visit our friends and enjoy the pleasures of a city with more than 1,600 people in it. We ate food that was actually seasoned well and savored as many fruits as we could stomach. We also managed to climb at Eldorado Canyon State Park before the weather turned stormy – which was quite the adventure – and hiked around Chautauqua Park before sunset. I recently shared a blog post about our Colorado adventures, so check it out if you want to read more!

One of the last adventures John and I went on in June was our trip to Vedauwoo to rock climb with our college roommates Brooke and Noah. I had been dying to return to the Voo since the day I left, and since John is an avid crack climber I knew he would fall in love with the crag as soon as he got out there. The climbing was a ton of fun but also incredibly brutal – at Vedauwoo every route is way harder than the grade due to the nature of crack climbing, and we got thrashed by the rock. John left with scrapes all over his arms and back from a 5.9 off-width crack (a crack that’s too big to fit just your hands in, so you have to shove your body into it in order to progress) and our legs were stiff and sore the next day from wiggling up the routes.

Our outing to Vedauwoo was extremely refreshing for a number of reasons; we were able to bring my dog Koda with us, and he had a blast chasing sticks and scrambling across rocks; we got to catch up with our friends who recently moved to Colorado; and we ate an amazing dinner at a pizza joint in Laramie. Since John and I had two days off from work we even had enough time to aimlessly wander around Laramie before returning to the ranch, and it was very pleasant to spend the afternoon in a city besides Saratoga.

All of those outings reminded me of how lucky I am to live in a place that has so much natural beauty right outside my door. Whenever I have a bad day at work or I see how expensive strawberries and avocados are at Valley Foods, ($6 for moldy strawberries and almost $3 for one avocado?! You’ve got to be kidding me!) I try to take a deep breath and focus instead on all of the amazing outdoor spaces that I get to recreate in. One of the greatest reminders of this that took place in June was when I sent my rock climbing project on ranch property. I had been working on finding a way to send the route clean (without falling or sitting on the rope) ever since I first came to the ranch in 2018, so it was an extremely emotional moment for me when I got the first clean ascent.

What I’ve been digging:

When I came out to Wyoming I challenged myself to actually use my camera by taking at least one picture every day. I haven’t been able to keep up with it as much as I would like, but I’ve started to fall in love with being behind the lens and capturing the beauty around me. I’m proud to say that my Canon isn’t sitting in my room collecting dust like it was in Tallahassee, and that I’m slowly starting to learn how to take better photos.

My other guilty pleasure during June has been the TV show Chernobyl on HBO. I remember getting chills when I watched the trailer back when Game of Thrones was wrapping up, so one night when we couldn’t decide what to watch John suggested we give it a try. The series follows the nuclear disaster that occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the town of Pripyat, as well as how the government attempted to cover it up and the efforts that they took to clear the area. Chernobyl is heartbreaking, terrifying, and disturbingly fascinating, and I highly suggest checking it out if you’re in need of a new show.

Post Heading // Forest Tourist

Here are my intentions for July 2019:

  • Make more art. I absolutely love making art, but I rarely feel like I have the time to sit down and do it. I also have perfectionist tendencies, which means I’m not inclined to start something unless I think it’ll end up exactly how I want it. I need to abandon the notion that art is only valid if it’s “perfect” and instead focus on the joy of creating something purely for myself.
  • “Keep climbing your ladder and stop looking down (or up!)” I saw this quote online the other day and it really stuck with me. It’s so easy to focus on how much farther you have to go to achieve a goal or get caught up in everything that you’ve done up until that point, as opposed to simply taking things one step at a time and being present in the moment. In July I want to 1) continue moving towards my goals instead of simply stand still, and 2) stop worry about how far away the end is. I just want to climb that ladder!
  • Appreciate the small things. I am guilty of getting caught up in the big things in life and ending up stressed. I want to take the time to appreciate the small things that bring me happiness, whether it’s the wildflowers that are blooming all over Wyoming, the way the aspen trees sway in the wind, or John’s laugh.
  • Be unapologetic when you have to be. There are times in life when you have to conform to the way things are, and then there are times when you have to stand your ground and refuse to apologize for sticking to your values. I want to find the wisdom to know which is which, and have the courage to stand up for myself when I need to.
  • Find stillness whenever things start to move too fast. One thing that I’ve noticed about working a seasonal job is how easy it is to lose track of time. Days fly by and weeks melt away as we count down towards October. I want to seek out moments of stillness during the day that allow me to stay grounded in the present and enjoy my time for what it is.

What are your intentions for July? Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email at indiaclaire.ft@gmail.com. All photos in this post were taken by me unless otherwise specified in the caption.


I'm a climber, dog mom, and a hater of plastic. I like seeking wild adventures and sharing them with people.

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