The Legend of Mike’s Crack
Growing up hearing all of the stories of my father’s adventures in Utah made it sound like a mystical land full of untold secrets. Story after story made me wonder if it could all be true! When we made our family trip to Utah in 2012, I could see the wonders come vividly to life… the stories rang true! Well, all but one. The legend of “Mike’s Crack.” It’s not like it sounds (or maybe it is), so let me explain. My Dad made a trip to Utah many years ago to visit his brother and hike in the southern part of the state. One of the many things they did that trip was hike in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The Needles consists of rows of ginormous fins of rock jutting from the earth. My father and uncle did some exploring and stumbled upon a chimney in the rock between the fins. My dad then climbed up the chimney to the top of the fin to see the amazing view. My uncle wanted to do the same thing so he tried and tried to get up the chimney but just couldn’t. From all of the stories told again and again my uncle finally gave up with these words: “I can’t get up Mike’s Crack!”
So it stuck. That no name chimney that no one knows, was from that moment forward referred to as “Mike’s Crack” by our family. On our 2012 Utah trip we looked and looked in the Needles for the legendary yet elusive chimney. Going off of my father’s fading memories, we were unsuccessful; so saddened and depressed we had to return home with the legend of Mike’s Crack still, well…legend. For me, I just wanted to see the chimney so that I could know that Mike’s Crack truly existed.
Call us persistent, stubborn, or driven; but we were bound and determined to find that chimney once again. On our latest trip to Utah, we hiked into the Needles one more time. Through this fin and out that one, we weaved our way through the large pieces of sandstone. We eventually found a spot that my dad found familiar! Emerging from the slot canyon known as “The Joint” we eyed the surrounding landscape. “It’s here somewhere, I know it!” he said. He was the only one on this expedition who had actually laid eyes on where his physical feat over his brother had taken place; so we were going completely off of his memory (remember “fading”). He remembered bits and pieces, but not fully recollecting the place of the chimney, we hunted. Scrambling up a hill, into the cave, squeezing through a crack, and fidgeting our bodies across a previous rockslide, we then entered into a new opening. And lo and behold, there it was, Mike’s Crack. The source of all of the stories and all of the laughs stood before me¬—a 20 foot tall chimney. It was real, it was very real.
Me and my brother Justin climbed the crack, but my father due to uncontrollable circumstances, called aging, was unable to do the feat again. He had to admit defeat and then go home and apologize to his brother for making fun of him when he couldn’t climb Mike’s Crack (My father is approximately the same age that his brother was when he couldn’t do it). And that was it, the myth turned reality, and the legend lived on to the next generation! The legend of Mike’s Crack.
Kudos to dad for trying,