Talking About Ford Rangers!

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Hey Steph,
First off, I recently read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it! I hope you have plans to publish more of your writing, as I like the more personal approach you took; I really felt like I was able to see things from your point of view (thoughts, fears, etc.), versus having you tell them like a story. Your writing has a real thoughtfulness to it, keep it up!

I’m writing because you and Dean both have spent a lot of time on the road and I’m hoping you can give me a suggestion or two.

I’m 26, grew up in New Hampshire and have been climbing for a while now, since around 1999, but have yet to take a major climbing road trip. Come June, I’m quitting my job and heading on the road for a while to climb full time. I’ve spent a lot of time travelling abroad and have climbed in Ecuador, so I’m not a super travel gumby or anything, but I’ve never done it on the road (living in a vehicle, etc.). Do you have any advice for making a Ford Ranger a little more set up for long term living? Based on your book’s cover shot, I’m guessing you can offer me a thing or two ;-). I’ve seen folks with added platforms in the bed to essentially double your storage, sleeping space, etc. but other than that I can’t think of anything cool I can do to make it like “home.”

I’ll be in the valley and all summer (assuming I can figure out a way to stay for that long with all the rules…I’m guessing I’ll figure it out) with some time at Squamish, then Zion/Indian Creek/Moab around late October-ish. Maybe I’ll run into you somewhere along the line!
Take it easy, and thanks.
-Matt

Dear Matt,
I’m so glad you have a Ford Ranger. I love them, and have had nothing but good experiences with them. The single nicest thing you can do is to unscrew the metal plate that sits on top of the tailgate, and replace it with a nice piece of plywood. It’s good to rout the edges, and finish the top of it with polyurethane or something. If I only did one thing to a pickup to make my lifestyle significantly better, that would be it. The other good thing you can do is to put a regular sized crash pad in, for your shelf living set up. It fits perfectly between the wheel wells, and then you just need to pad out the little strip where your feet will go. It is kind of a hassle to actually take it out and use it for bouldering (unless you stay really well organized with duffel bags and bins in the truck, which you should anyway, but you know how things can get sometimes), but at least you can. And it is a great mattress.

But. If you are planning to stay in the Valley all summer, don’t get too attached to your nice truck house, since they don’t let you sleep in your truck. For some weird reason.

The third thing you definitely need to make your truck perfect is a small dog! However, this also doesn’t work well in the Valley. For some weird reason. But sometimes it’s better not to try to understand 🙂
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Finally, make sure your truck top has an inside light. If it doesn’t, it is well worth the extra money to put one in. Otherwise, you are constantly trying to find stuff in there when it’s dark, and trying to find a headlamp, and it’s always a hassle. On the same note, I have a small refillable propane tank and single-burner stove, which I always keep in the back corner of my shelf top, and it has definitely saved my sanity to keep a lighter on a string tied to the on/off knob of the stove. Since I am a huge advocate of backups for the important things, I always keep a small alpine stove kit handy too, for in case I unexpectedly run out of fuel in the tank.

I’ve also found that when on a long roadtrip, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a duffel bag full of everything you need for in case you suddenly find yourself changing your destination completely. For example, what if you go to Squamish, and you suddenly decide to go to the Bugaboos, and you need boots and mini-crampons and alpine clothing? Or what if you are in the Valley to climb free routes, but you suddenly decide to do a speed climb, and need a jumar setup and a helmet? So even if I leave for a month at Rifle, I always have a bag full of alpine gear and clothing, and the minimum of big wall stuff in the truck, just in case. It can be annoying to sacrifice the space, but well worth it if you suddenly need it.
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I hope you have a great trip!!
xx Steph


  • ridrz

    What about a ford focus wagon? Good wheels for a car camping dirt bag snowboard bum?

  • liz

    Hi Steph – I’ve kept track of your accomplishments since I started climbing…I’m always inspired by women who go hard. I also think we have some things in common…truck, amazing dog, academia…yada, yada. Anyhow, I thought I’d run this by you. I’m constantly looking for reliable climbing partners -I live in southern NH, so I don’t always feel like I’m in a climbing mecca. Women who climb are few and far between around here. It feels so odd, but what’s your take on showing up at a crag and fishing around for partners? I’m afraid I’ll feel like a dork, but I’m committed to lots of time on the rock this summer. I guess that’s all…

    Thanks,
    Liz

  • liz

    ps, I just read the piece in Alpinist – nice.

  • steph

    Thanks Liz 🙂 I’m glad you liked the story.
    Showing up at the crag alone can definitely be intimidating sometimes. But traveling alone has a lot going for it–like complete independence!
    I’ve been showing up alone at crags pretty much since I started climbing. This might be why I solo a lot…..but I’ve also always found great partners for everything, from bouldering to big walling to alpine climbing, when I needed to. I even found someone to climb around with on a boulder last year in Central Park, when I was passing through New York City! All the other passersby thought we were from another planet, but we had a great time.
    There are tons of people out there to play with…. And like you say, most climbers have a lot in common. Just from people writing in recently, I’ve been hearing from lots of women who were or are getting ready to head out on solo road trips. Everyone seems nervous about heading out alone, and then everyone writes back a month or so later saying how great it worked out! Watch, this season you’ll probably all end up together in one big posse! You will have a great time, I promise. Don’t feel like a dork, or if you do, just ignore it 🙂
    xx Steph

  • Stephanie D.

    Hi Liz!

    I actually am a climber in the Boston area and actually had some of the same feelings as you have. Recently I’ve tried meeting people through groups or clubs (through the universities, outing groups like the AMC ) or even just showing up and bouldering at the gym and meeting people there to top rope with. I recently had an injury on my knee so I ended up having to take a little time off, but I’m hoping that that when I return really soon maybe something like that will work out. I feel like climbers in general are really great understanding people who share the passion of climbing, so I’m thinking maybe that can connect people.

    But with all that said, I’m actually thinking of doing the same thing you are, just showing up at some of the nearby crags and hopefully finding people to climb with as well, so if you see another dorky looking girl wandering around that’ll probably be me. 🙂 If you want another girl to wander around with you or just to climb with too, feel free to let me know since we’re sorta near by!

    Otherwise good luck, and congratulations on being so brave and assertive to go out and keep doing the things you love. I think that’s great!

    -(another) Stephanie

  • Matt

    Hey Steph,
    Glad to see you got my note, thanks for the advice! Especially the shelf/crashpad bit. Cheers, see you out there.:)

    -Matt

  • Do not get too impressed by the first mattress you try. Try others as well so that you get better options and you would be able to find out and analyze the different levels of comfort and pleasure the different mattresses could give.

  • Do not get too impressed by the first mattress you try. Try others as well so that you get better options and you would be able to find out and analyze the different levels of comfort and pleasure the different mattresses could give.

  • Do not get too impressed by the first mattress you try. Try others as well so that you get better options and you would be able to find out and analyze the different levels of comfort and pleasure the different mattresses could give.

  • Do not get too impressed by the first mattress you try. Try others as well so that you get better options and you would be able to find out and analyze the different levels of comfort and pleasure the different mattresses could give.

  • Do not get too impressed by the first mattress you try. Try others as well so that you get better options and you would be able to find out and analyze the different levels of comfort and pleasure the different mattresses could give.

  • Do not get too impressed by the first mattress you try. Try others as well so that you get better options and you would be able to find out and analyze the different levels of comfort and pleasure the different mattresses could give.

  • Do not get too impressed by the first mattress you try. Try others as well so that you get better options and you would be able to find out and analyze the different levels of comfort and pleasure the different mattresses could give.

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