This weekend we set out to determine whether or not the famous saying from the movie, Dodgeball, is true: “If you can dodge a wrench, then you can dodge a governor.” You may be thinking to yourself, “He doesn’t understand what quotes are,” or, more likely, “what a moron.” Both of these responses are equally appropriate, and I appreciate the honesty. As it turns out, Governor Dodge State Park IS named that because Scott Walker haunts those woods and chases whoever enters. If he catches you, your pension is frozen, and you have to wait for another governor to tag you back into civilized society.
Despite all of that action, Governor Dodge is a beautiful place to visit, especially this time of year. We caught the end of the leaves changing, which made the heavily wooded hills just that much more stunning.
And the sunset that wasn’t bad either (we would’ve actually stopped the car for a good picture, but there were people lined up along the road with professional looking cameras, and we felt self-conscious).
We arrived around noon and set up camp in case it started raining while we were out and about. The objective of the weekend was to get some good sandstone bouldering in, or, if it rained, to do some exploring of this park that I had only been to once before, and Tim had never been. Fortunately, we stayed pretty dry the whole weekend, barely catching a brief mist in the afternoon. We drove from our campsite at Twin Valley Campground over to the group campsites. We parked and slung our bags and crash pad over our shoulders and trudged up a hill to Backbone Ridge, a long island of sandstone walls jutting up 15-25 feet from the forest floor. We wasted no time getting on the rock. We set up the pad under “Hangman”, a park classic (according to Mountain Project), because what better to warm up on than a V5? I’ll tell you what, anything lower than a V5. We both made easy work of the beginning, but the crux kicked our butts enough to send us running to something a bit easier.
With warmed up muscles and bruised egos we went on a quest for redemption. Fortunately, we didn’t have to look far. “Get the Hell Outta Dodge”, another park classic, was just around the corner. The V4 roof problem was much more our style (easier) and more aesthetically appealing (it made us look muscular); it’s got a heel hook, feet-cutting, and a brutal body smear mantel to top it off.
“Hey! My beer is up there. But I’m down here… Well, looks like I’m getting it this time.”
After a few hours on that side of the rock island, we started to realize that maybe we were a bit ambitious to start on such difficult problems. We found ourselves a nice V3 on the other side of the ridge and each gave it a few goes, but we were pretty beat by then and our finger tips sanded raw. Picasso will have to wait for another day.
Tim fending off a fart as Picasso threatens to rip his fingers off.
We decided to call it a day and hauled it back to our campsite to try getting a fire going with the wet wood we had collected earlier. There aren’t many feelings more satisfying than that moment you get the fire going well enough to live on its own; that feeling is even stronger when the wood is wet and even more so when you are relying on it to cook your dinner. As the fire crackled, we cracked open a couple beers and broke out some jams as the pasta boiled. We ate, drank, and were merry until the last of the wood ashed out, then hit the hay…er… leaves.
The next morning, we tore down, packed up, and drove over to the ridge to give tearing through our fingers another go. We gave a few more shots at Hangman with a group of other boulderers (aka hippies) we met there, but only one of the 7 in our group could get it. And that dude was jacked, and also he was high probably so that’s a performance enhancer so it really didn’t count. Tim and I decided we could use a change of venue (and difficulty), so we walked a couple minutes over to the Plan B area. We found ourselves a nice dyno problem and set right to it. It was straight forward enough, grab the obvious hold with two hands, get the feet on a small ridge, and launch yourself upwards and backwards and hope you can clutch the jagged lip of rock.
After only a couple tries, Tim managed to tear a chunk out of his palm, and his day ended there. I spent the next half hour flying through the air, swinging out fully horizontal to the ground, and crashing back into the rock until I also opened my palm and decided to call it quits.
If you’re not bleeding, you’re not trying hard enough?
Before we left, we scouted a couple more problems to get an idea in our head of what we want to work on the next time we go, which we both hope is very soon. The park is about the same distance from Madison as Devils Lake, 45 minutes, but we’ve always opted to go with what we know. Now we know that the potential of Governor Dodge is worth splitting time between the parks. Expect to hear about another Governor Dodge trip within the next couple months…and if you are interested in sharing in this adventure with us, let us know and we will try to bring you along!