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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.

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Offline mbender

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2018, 06:23:30 PM »
One question about the Historic Railroad Trail (another great site you've clued me into that I would otherwise never have known about)....are those tunnels possibly cutting through a series of radiating volcanic dikes?

I'm not really sure, but I believe they cut through ridges that were exposed during the natural process of erosion.

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Offline mbender

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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2018, 06:38:17 PM »

Chapter 4: The People of the Blue-green Waters

After three days of easy hikes and fun exploration, the muscle soreness was mostly gone. I cleaned and laundered and repacked as I prepared to meet up with the group for three days and nights on the Havasupai Indian Reservation.

September 3-7, 2014: Hava-super-pai

Havasupai Falls, location on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Havasu Canyon, is a series of waterfalls on Havasu creek, a tributary to the Colorado River. The presence of travertine gives the water of Havasu creek its blue-green color. Supai village, the capital of the reservation, is considered the most remote community in the lower 48, and is not accessible by road. Supai is accessed via an eight mile hike from the Hualapai Hilltop, then the Havasupai campground is another 1.5 miles beyond that.

I met up with the group in Vegas, and we loaded up and made the 3 to 4 hour drive to the Hualapai Hilltop. The Hilltop is where the hike to Supai begins, and sits 1000 feet above the canyon floor...

Hilltop by mbender, on Flickr

We arrived after dark, and set up camp for the night...

In-tents by mbender, on Flickr

Not everyone slept in a tent...

Drink the Water by mbender, on Flickr

Day 0. Before dawn, we were up and getting gear organized and packed for the eight mile hike to Supai. An early morning departure to beat the heat, we descended the steep switchbacks into the canyon...

The Big Valley by mbender, on Flickr

The mule train starts it's daily trek to the Hilltop, bringing supplies and baggage back to Supai. A persons bags can be mule'd or heli'd from the Hilltop to Supai so that only a daypack is needed for the hike in...

M-Train by mbender, on Flickr

All along the trail, geological eye-candy..

This trail rocks by mbender, on Flickr

Entering Supai, Wigleeva, two stone pillars that are the guardians of the Havasupai...

Wigles by mbender, on Flickr

Arrived in Supai just after noon. We checked in to the headquarters then went to the cafe for burgers and fries. Loaded up for the final push to the campgrounds. New Navajo Falls is the first waterfall encountered on the way to the campground...

Brand spankin new by mbender, on Flickr

Not long after that, Fifty Foot Falls...

The Big 5-0 by mbender, on Flickr

Entering the campgrounds, the trail turns a corner and descends right next to the 90 ft Havasu Falls...

*Angellic Choir sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

I picked out a camping spot, then prepared to unpack my gear mid-afternoon...

Now that's a lot of gear by mbender, on Flickr

Hanger hung, right aside Havasu Creek...

Hangin loose by mbender, on Flickr

Once unpacked, the rest of the day was spent swimming and exploring around Havasu Falls...

*Angellic Choir sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

A pool beneath the falls by mbender, on Flickr

Peeking thru a hole by mbender, on Flickr

Day 1. The group made a seven mile round-trip to Beaver Falls, with stop at the 200 ft Mooney Falls at the far end of the campgrounds...

*Angellic Choir sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

To reach the bottom of Mooney, you’ll have to descend the chains, ladders, and bolts down a 200 ft tall travertine cliff...

Risky Bidness by mbender, on Flickr

Down the cliff by mbender, on Flickr

The would be a fun climb without the chains and ladders, except for the mists generated by the waterfall, which make the lower 100 ft slippery and dangerous...

Mists of Mooney by mbender, on Flickr

The hike to Beaver Falls is rugged, but beautiful, with numerous small waterfalls all along the creek...

No beavers here by mbender, on Flickr

Still no beavers by mbender, on Flickr

Passing through fields of green inside the tall canyon walls...

Grassy by mbender, on Flickr

Arriving at the Beaver Falls for swimming and picnicking...

Is that a... nope, not a beaver by mbender, on Flickr

End-to-end by mbender, on Flickr

Down the falls by mbender, on Flickr

Cascade by mbender, on Flickr

Day 2. The rest of the group did a hike to the Colorado River, which is the same hike as to Beaver Falls only a little further. I opted instead to explore around the campground from the top of Havasu Falls...

Over the edge by mbender, on Flickr

And from the cliffs above the campgrounds...

Through the canyon by mbender, on Flickr

Later that night, got some shots of this paradise under a full moon in a beautiful night sky...

*Angellic Choir sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

Moonlighted by mbender, on Flickr

Moonshadowed by mbender, on Flickr

*Angellic Choir sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

Stumped by mbender, on Flickr

Day 3. Up before dawn to pack-up camp to make the arduous ten mile uphill trek back up the canyon to the Hilltop, first stopping in the village for breakfast. It's a long day after the hike, then the drive back to Vegas. One final night in Vegas, then a flight back home after a trip that began with a single cursed day; followed by eight blessed days.

I departed from Vegas with unfinished business. Since I was unable to find my dignity in the exploration of the Anniversary Narrows, it remains up there on the Muddy Ridge. Now I must return, and get back on that ridge to reclaim it. Here's mud in my eye.

To be continued. . . .

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Offline badknees

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2018, 07:29:33 PM »
Did you use a Neutral-density filter for some of the daytime waterfall shots?

Like this one??



Nice collection!
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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2018, 11:17:04 PM »



Nice collection!

No kidding. I just showed them to my wife and she said, "Nat Geo quality!!!!!!"
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Online rocketman

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2018, 11:51:22 PM »
Those all deserve the Angelic Choir Sound Effect!

If you don't mind my asking, what does a Havasupai vacation cost? Did you use an outfitter? Sorry if that's probing, but you just rearranged my bucket list.
Making ice cubes FROM THE SUN!!!

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Offline mbender

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2018, 06:06:19 PM »
Did you use a Neutral-density filter for some of the daytime waterfall shots?

Like this one??



Nice collection!

Thanks!
Most of the daytime waterfall shots were done with a Panasonic micro-4/3's with a 7-14 mm (14-28 equiv) lens at *gasp* f22. All were shot on a tripod with about 1 sec of exposure. I was hiking down the creek with camera and tripod in hand, going from fall to fall. I must have 50 or 60 photos like this.

Other shots were likely done with my always-by-my-side camera: a Sony RX-100, which does have a built-in ND filter.

The Panny GX-7 with 7-14 lens was my all-time favorite camera/lens combo in terms of size and functionality. But I've since moved on the larger sensor cameras that are the same size as the Panny.

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Offline mbender

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2018, 06:20:06 PM »
Those all deserve the Angelic Choir Sound Effect!

If you don't mind my asking, what does a Havasupai vacation cost? Did you use an outfitter? Sorry if that's probing, but you just rearranged my bucket list.

The price is really reasonable. I went with a Meetup group, and the cost was $160 per person. I think the group was considered an outfitter, and received two reservation blocks per year. But that ended for the group in 2016. I don't know why. I hear that most of the reservations are purchased by outfitters, and that is how most people get in, but probably at an inflated cost. Reservations for the year open in February, but it's tough to get through. I went in 2014 and again in 2016.

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Offline mbender

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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2018, 06:44:48 PM »

Vegas Part II: Let's Get Muddy

February 2018. Three and one half years. I would never have believed that it would have taken this long to make the return to the Muddy Wilderness outside of Las Vegas, but it's not that simple. There were three things that were absolutely required before I could make the trip back:

   1. A more moderate time of the year,
   2. Acclimation to the arid Mojave desert,
   3. A vehicle to safely make it out to and back from the trailhead.

Looking back to the problems I encountered at Muddy in 2014, one thing in particular stands out: Acclimation. When I flew in to Vegas, I came from, and was acclimated to, the high humidities of Houston. I flew in to Vegas, then turned right around and headed straight into the desert the very next morning. The desert simply sucked the moisture out of my body like I never thought was possible. Now, the first item above is easy to control; the second item I've been practicing for 3 1/2 years; but the third item: that's what took 3 1/2 years.

Getting to and from the trailhead was not going to happen in a rental, which meant that I'd have to drive from Houston, which means I'd have to have a vehicle to get to Vegas and down the rocky road to the Muddy trailhead. Finally, my chariot is ready...

Taco Supreme by mark fisher, on Flickr

The story behind, and buildup of, my chariot is documented here: http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/4x4/i'll-have-a-taco-no!-make-that-a-taco-supreme!/msg164324.

Now, my newly completed chariot needed a test run, and what better place for that than Big Bend? And I have the perfect testing location in mind: Elephant Tusk! Elephant Tusk and Muddy Peak have much in common... a long drive to the park, a long and rocky road to the trailhead, four miles of easy hiking one-way, loose scree, a rugged ridge, class 3/4 climbing... perfect! So in February of 2018 the test run to ET was made, and is documented here: http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/members-only-photos-and-reports/three-deserted-desert-peaks-with-a-deserted-desert-canyon-for-dessert/msg163376.

April is a great time to be in the Desert Southwest, so plans were drawn up, bookings made, and bags were packed. Time to Get Muddy.

Chapter 5: The Blue Side of the Mountain

April 2018. 1500 miles to go.
The perfect time of year, temperatures in the seventies. Acclimation is accomplished by driving and climbing across the desert Southwest all the way to Vegas, with stops in the Organ Mountains of New Mexico and the Superstition Mountains of Arizona along the way. The climb-a-day, drive-a-day approach is a great method to do strenuous outing with a day's rest in between to build strength and stamina.

April 15, 2018: South Rabbit Ear

Just east of Las Cruces, NM lie the Organ Mountains. A small but very rugged 9000 ft range that rises abruptly from the desert floor with 4000 ft of prominence over the Las Cruces and White Sands. They are named because the granite spires that form their peaks resemble a pipe organ. There are three rabbit ears: North, Middle, and South. South Rabbit Ear (SRE) is the non-technical of the trio, a class 3 scramble accessed from an old, rugged mining road...

Rough drive, Beats hiking by mbender, on Flickr

I drive in to Las Cruces the day before the planned climb, and head out to the trailhead on the old mining road to explore the Topp Hut...

Fixer... by mbender, on Flickr

...Upper by mbender, on Flickr

And further up the road, some discarded mining gear...

Winch for my Taco by mbender, on Flickr

And some equipment about the mine...

Loading Zone by mbender, on Flickr

Wonder what's inside by mbender, on Flickr

Dunno wat this is by mbender, on Flickr

Some of the tunnels have collapsed and several layers of support beams can be seen...

You go in first by mbender, on Flickr

The long pile of tailings...

Landing strip by mbender, on Flickr

The next morning, I drive out to Baylor Canyon road, then up the mining road to within about 2.5 miles and 2800 feet of elevation gain from SRE. Hike up the mining road, and once past the mine, I follow the trail that goes into Rabbit Ears Canyon...

Yeah, it's crooked by mbender, on Flickr

Once in the canyon, the trail ended, and the boulder hopping begins...

Off trail where I belong by mbender, on Flickr

The canyon curves to the right (south), and the Rabbit Ears come into view...

Appear closer than they are by mbender, on Flickr

I keep to the right of SRE, and attain the saddle between SRE and the Rabbit Ears Plateau...

It seemed to be the way by mbender, on Flickr

Back in the saddle by mbender, on Flickr

Big mistake. The traverse from the saddle to the gully that leads to the SRE summit is a bushwhacking nightmare. But I manage to get to the gully...

Ahh damn by mbender, on Flickr

Then scramble to the summit, and soak in the views...

Back on the rock by mbender, on Flickr

The Summit by mbender, on Flickr

White Sands Test Facility by mbender, on Flickr

On the descent, I stayed in the gully all the way to Rabbit Ears Canyon to avoid the bushwhacking. Easy Peasy...

Shoulda gone up this way by mbender, on Flickr

Off to a good start: A strenuous half-day scramble to a rocky summit with outstanding views. Here's a video of the ascent and descent of the summit block...



Still going. . . .

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2018, 11:29:22 PM »
Great, great, great story, Mbender. One of the very best ever. I love the Organs in all their rugged isolation. I used to climb there twenty years ago. You know who really knows them well? Backpacker56. He can tell you some stories.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2018, 08:27:03 AM »
These stories, sure, great story with EXCELLENT pictures but there's more.  Call me a newbie but the stories on this site are constantly teaching me about all these new wonderful places that are scattered throughout our great country.  I've been to Vegas more times than I can count and YES I've been outside the area.  I've day visited Valley of Fire and another area park who's name escapes me right now and wandered around the Lake Mead/Hoover Dam area.  I had no idea about all those other wonderful areas.  Never new such a thing as Supai existed. 

And not just this story.  In the last few years my appetite has been whetted by so many different areas, adventures and excursions.  Rocketman asked MBender a question and commented "you just rearranged my bucketlist"!  You think? I think I'm going to start using that to pay compliment to great stories.  I've not necessarily planned a trip yet, still trying to wander around BiBE as much as possible but MY bucket list has grown considerably.  The things I've read about and researched due to the stories and questions on this site; Civil War battle grounds, all those gorgeous Utah Canyons, the Native American sites of New Mexico, tucked away hiking spots in the Texas Hill Country.

Once again, thank you Casa Grande for creating this site.  Thanks to all you contributors who not only share a desire for adventure but take the rest of us along for the ride. 

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Offline mbender

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #25 on: October 31, 2018, 07:11:58 PM »
Great, great, great story, Mbender. One of the very best ever. I love the Organs in all their rugged isolation. I used to climb there twenty years ago. You know who really knows them well? Backpacker56. He can tell you some stories.

Wholeheartedly agree. Las Cruces is a wonderful little town, and just a stone's throw from the Organs. "Rugged isolation" is an apt description of them, with emphasis on the "rugged". I need to stop by there more often.

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Offline mbender

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #26 on: October 31, 2018, 07:18:53 PM »
These stories, sure, great story with EXCELLENT pictures but there's more.  Call me a newbie but the stories on this site are constantly teaching me about all these new wonderful places that are scattered throughout our great country.  I've been to Vegas more times than I can count and YES I've been outside the area.  I've day visited Valley of Fire and another area park who's name escapes me right now and wandered around the Lake Mead/Hoover Dam area.  I had no idea about all those other wonderful areas.  Never new such a thing as Supai existed. 

And not just this story.  In the last few years my appetite has been whetted by so many different areas, adventures and excursions.  Rocketman asked MBender a question and commented "you just rearranged my bucketlist"!  You think? I think I'm going to start using that to pay compliment to great stories.  I've not necessarily planned a trip yet, still trying to wander around BiBE as much as possible but MY bucket list has grown considerably.  The things I've read about and researched due to the stories and questions on this site; Civil War battle grounds, all those gorgeous Utah Canyons, the Native American sites of New Mexico, tucked away hiking spots in the Texas Hill Country.

Once again, thank you Casa Grande for creating this site.  Thanks to all you contributors who not only share a desire for adventure but take the rest of us along for the ride.

Beautifully stated. These comments encourage me to post more non-BIBE stuff.

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Offline mbender

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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #27 on: October 31, 2018, 07:46:44 PM »
Chapter 6: Angels Carry Me

600 miles or more.
The day after South Rabbit Ear, a driving day as I work my way towards Vegas with a stop in Gold Canyon, Arizona and the Super-Duper-stitious Mountains. The drive takes about half the day, leaving time to prepare for a very special adventure...

April 17, 2018: Weavers Needle

While my primary purpose for this trip is to summit Muddy Peak and to reclaim my dignity trapped in the rugged crags of the Muddy Ridge, the premier climb of this trip is clearly Weavers Needle. I first saw the Needle one year prior when I was climbing in the Superstitions, and I've wanted to climb it ever since. While there the year before, I asked around and everybody said it was a technical climb, but I was stubbornly determined to free-climb it. The Needle garnered all my focus and research when preparing for this trip. I allocated two days in the Superstitions to bag this magnificent summit...

*Oh My! sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

As described by Christopher Brennen (http://www.dankat.com/swhikes/weaver.htm):

"This rock-climbing adventure takes you to the top of the symbolic peak of the Superstition Wilderness, the awesome Weavers Needle. Situated in the middle of the Superstitions, Weavers Needle is a thousand foot high column of rock that rises majestically from the desert floor and dominates the land for thirty miles around. A weathered volcanic plug with a summit elevation of 4553ft, Weavers Needle is set in a desert landscape of cactus and mesquite bush, with towering Saguaro cacti particularly prominent."

*No effen way! sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

There are two approaches to the Needle, both converging in the notch between the north and south columns...

Tetons by mbender, on Flickr

One approach comes in from the West, the other from the East. The eastern approach is the least technically difficult, but has a longer hike, and is the approach I will use. It is recommended that both approaches be done as a technical climb with proper protection, as some moves have been rated as high as 5.6. In all my research for this climb, in every report or video I found, the climbers used protection, primarily on descent. This was cause for concern, as I was planning on free climbing the whole thing, up and down.

The Big Day is here. I arrive at the Peralta Trailhead, gear up and head up the Bluff Springs Trail. The trail goes up and out of Peralta Canyon through a series of washes, and after about a mile, The Needle juts out impressively above a distant ridge...

*Oh shit! sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

The Needle continues to intimidate as the trails winds through the wash...

Come at me bro! by mbender, on Flickr

Eventually I leave the main trail and go up and over a low saddle, where the Needle is fully revealed...

Ummmm.... Okayyyy... by mbender, on Flickr

The chute leading to the notch between the spires is visible, and frankly does not look climbable. The approach to the spire is a steep 700 feet of scree...

Scree-ming by mbender, on Flickr

I made it to the boulder-filled, slick slope to the lower canyon that drains from the formidable chute...

*Oh chute! sound effect* by mbender, on Flickr

I reach the base of the chute, where the real climbing begins. From here it's about 250 feet from here to the notch, but the first 30 ft is the hardest. It is a steep and exposed ramp to the right of the chute. It is a composite rock with numerous hand and foot holds... or should I say toe and finger holds...

Up is EZ by mbender, on Flickr

This has a significant pucker factor. I would call it class 5 because the holds are so small. I am definitely wearing my dancin shoes...

Rock dancin by mbender, on Flickr

Use the one's that don't come out by mbender, on Flickr

Hoo boy, I still have to go back down! Once above the composite rock, there is still about 10 ft of climbing requiring some awkward moves to reach the first shelf...

There's a shelf up there by mbender, on Flickr

View from the shelf by mbender, on Flickr

The rest of the way up the chute to the notch is steep, but class 3 climbing...

Chute 'em up by mbender, on Flickr

Chute for the sky by mbender, on Flickr

Looking back by mbender, on Flickr

Almost to the notch...

Sure as chutin by mbender, on Flickr

Great view from the notch. Looking east from the notch...

The way I came up by mbender, on Flickr

And west...

The other way up by mbender, on Flickr

From the notch, about 350 feet to the summit. The second crux, is a 12 ft wall to get out of the notch. The hand and foot holds are great, but it is straight up vertical; and there is a rock overhang to the left requiring some moves to get around...

Top Notch by mbender, on Flickr

Against a wall by mbender, on Flickr

Once out of the notch, it is a fun class 3 scramble for the next 300 feet...

Yes, it really is fun by mbender, on Flickr

Southern spire by mbender, on Flickr

Bag the Crag! by mbender, on Flickr

The final crux, about 100 ft from the summit, is a 50 ft vertical wall. The holds are terrific, but the wall is strrrrraight up, and the exposure is breathtaking. The verticality of the wall is unnerving...

The Final Wall by mbender, on Flickr

Hangin out there by mbender, on Flickr

Then the final scamper to the top. Boom. The summit is mine, all to myself...

What goes up... by mbender, on Flickr

A perfect day, a perfect climb, with a perfect view...

King of the hill! by mbender, on Flickr

Superstition Peak by mbender, on Flickr

View North by mbender, on Flickr

View West by mbender, on Flickr

View East by mbender, on Flickr

There are several summit registers in a walled camping area...

Sign-in at the summit by mbender, on Flickr

This is by far the most difficult and technical climb I've ever done. The jubilation of completing the ascent is tempered by the thoughts of what was to come: the descent. I've always been able to downclimb anything I could climb up. Easily. But then again I've never had to downclimb long walls so vertical. I read and signed the summit register, explored, had lunch, made selfies, napped... then I packed my stuff, put my game face on, and started back down. I didn't bother taking pics on the way down, but I did have a video camera mounted to my helmet, and the whole adventure can be seen here:



Almost there. . . .
« Last Edit: November 01, 2018, 12:00:24 PM by mbender »

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #28 on: October 31, 2018, 09:30:36 PM »
Yeah, the pucker factor looks significant.  Very appropriate soundtrack for the descent.  Don't show your mom the video.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 10:13:30 PM by Quatro »
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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2018, 09:58:33 PM »
My stomach was in knots watching that descent. Congrats man, and respect. Lots of respect.
Making ice cubes FROM THE SUN!!!

 


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