We notice the drive from Zion is windy, but have no clue what’s coming. We stop at the Red Coyote cafe in Virgin for a nice lunch and internet session. There we meet Nathan, a traveling farrier whose rig we recognize from Mosquito Cove last night. He’s going up Kolob Reservoir road to scout out the camping up there. We wish him luck and begin our own scouting mission to Woodbury Road.
The wind has increased enough to make me slow down when it gusts, but I still don’t think much of it. We travel through the Shivwits reservation, turning south on remote highway 91. There was a fire in this area 2007, and with the wind it starts feeling pretty wild. We pass the turn to the Utah Hills area because there is no sign of a phone signal. Surprisingly the phone signal returns when we reach the Woodbury Desert Study Area turnoff. This heartens us, as do the bright yellow brittlebrush blooms along the road. So we continue despite gusts of wind strong enough to start us rocking.
There is a reasonable campsite with a phone signal in the vicinity of the climbing areas here. I stop the truck haphazardly and talk about walking to check out the rocks when a gust of wind nearly floors me. I see a flash of fur as T-Rex flies from under the trailer to the truck. Another gust hammers the idea home – this wind is a contender. I pull a terrified T-Rex out from under the truck, shove him in the camper, then crank up the truck. Ann endures the gusts and shouts while I maneuver our nose into the wind. Even this way the wind has us swaying like a ship in rough seas. We consider leaving, but decide that driving is not a good idea. Hunkering down for a long night, we call our trusty atmospheric scientist Kate, who assures us it will get worse before it gets better. She’s extremely jealous and would like nothing more than to join us in our rollicking craft. Meanwhile I try to convince Ann that this wind is but a portion of what it would take to capsize us, upsetting as it feels. The night is long, but when it finally dies down it feels like the presence of an anti-wind – a giant gust of peace that is far calmer than normal peace.
We spend a day recovering our composure and working online. In the evening I run up the road to a high ridge that gives me views far south into Arizona and east into the Virgin River gorge. The rocky hills are covered in sparse Joshua Trees, many burnt, and blooming cactus.
Over the next few days we sample the limestone climbing. Our first limestone climbing experience feels sharp! Like the rock is covered in teeth. It’s sticky though! Aside from minor puncture wounds the climbing is great.