Bits of Winter – Part 2

17 04 2011

Many a snowy hike were had this winter, all without snowshoes (although, I wish I had a pair). I actually perfected the art of not slipping through the snow crust by the aid of my trusty Keen boots.

You see, they are so wide that they actually distribute my weight across a wider platform, preventing me from sinking through – so long as I’m making my own tracks (that goes without saying, if you know me). I play a game with myself to see how long I can go without stepping in someone else’s footprint. Hey, when you hike as much as I do, your mind begins to wander.

Aside from enjoying the glimmering snow among dormant deciduous trees, snapping way too many photos of my dog romping through the winter wonderland,

It's a hard life

and dreaming of riding the trails under the white blanket, my winter hikes allowed me to scout out some hidden climbing spots for the coming season. What I found:

  • A perfect bouldering area buried 2 miles in, with a luxurious carpet of puffy moss at its base.
  • A short, but technically challenging top roping wall that could have about 4-5 nice routes. Some bushwacking required.
  • Another wall of quartzite that looks fun to climb, but seems to have a sketchy base area.

All that dreaming of climbing got me back into the rock gym after a several-month hiatus. My regular climbing partner has had some scheduling issues, so I was so happy to have a couple of sessions bouldering with Aleya of Rock and Sky. We had a great time at Earth Treks, with me learning tons just observing Aleya and others climbing much harder routes than me. I enjoy climbing with new people, and got over my anxiety of venturing into the bouldering cave instead of hanging out in my usual top rope area. I haven’t gotten any of these while hanging from a rope:

Nice flapper

Sucky photo (it’s hard to take a pic of your right hand when you’re right-handed), but it was a pretty nasty flapper. Although, I’d willingly suffer more of these to have a climbing gym closer to my house. I despise the 50+ minute 0ne-way trip to the gym.

In all, this winter was awesome – filled with all the things I love to do to stay off the couch when it’s cold: snowboarding, hiking, traveling, hanging out with friends new and old.

The Struggle: Life and Routes

27 06 2010

The air quality and temperatures in MD this past week have been terrible (why am I surprised every summer?) – code orange and pushing 100 degrees. When Kristen and I got to the climbing gym last Thursday it was just as sweltering inside, so I knew I didn’t want to spend too much time hovering at the top of the wall. Get up and get down.

I’ve really been trying to work on my movement to increase my efficiency and make smoother transitions. At this point I’m consistently climbing 5.8 indoors – it’s still tough, but I’m climbing them clean for the most part. Working in the heat that night was a nice challenge, especially before the gym got crowded (read: stinky-er).

I hopped on a 5.8 called Big Puffy White Clouds. It sounded so nice and inviting in the stifling dustiness of Earth Treks

I reached a point below the small roof nearly halfway up the wall and got stuck. Every move I tried got me nowhere. My body positioning was awkward no matter which way I shifted. I downclimbed and tried again. Three times. I was ready to give up. The sweat was pouring down my back and off my nose and chin.

While Kristen was surely acquiring belayer’s neck waiting for me to make a move, I was waxing philosophical on my struggle with the route. “There is a way…Keep moving, you’ll figure it out…You solve creative problems and run a business every day…Jeez, girl!”

With that – and lots of chalk – the route became suddenly clear. Up and over the roof I went, almost losing it at least twice. When Kristen lowered me I was surprised that I pulled it off, and completely spent. Kinda like a good day at the office.

Summertime Goals

5 06 2010

Seems like it was only a few months ago when I was posting about summer being off to a raging start. Well, it was, and it flew by. I didn’t get to the beach as much as I wanted, spent too much time on yard work, and made one too many business trips.

Not this year.

I’ve decided to set some (pretty ambitious) goals for this year in an attempt to get back to enjoying my summers to the fullest. Was that sentence oxymoronic? Planning ahead to be carefree. Yeah…so, back to the goals:

  • Spend at least 2 weekends per month at the beach
  • Attend outdoor music events: Reggae Wine Fest 7/17, Naukabout Music Festival 8/7
  • Join PATC and stay in Wineberry Cabin at Shenandoah National Park with Melissa & Bob, July or August
  • Attend the Trail House’s outdoor climbing clinic, July or August
  • Hike every Sunday (that I’m not at the beach) and at least one day during the week
  • Enter at least one 5K race
  • Rent a big house with a group of friends at Deep Creek or similar
  • Mountain bike more
  • Gather the gang again for a cookout and Patio Ping-Pong, July or August

We’ll see how this goes, but my experience has been that if I create a written list of goals, the simple act of writing it down and putting it into the universe makes them materialize.

I run a business and have so much going on each day. So, my true goal outside of work is to live the most unfettered and simple life as possible… Isn’t that what everyone wants?

Happy Summer!

A New Addiction?

27 09 2009

I broke the seal yesterday and took an intro class at the climbing gym. I wasn’t sure what to expect in a class atmosphere, but it was pretty tolerable. Usually, I like to jump into stuff with both feet while I’m learning. But with climbing, I quickly found out that’s not possible. There are harnesses to be buckled, knots to be learned and phrases to remember.

I never would have stuck with snowboarding if I hadn’t taken those first few lessons. And, I only wish I could have had the same experience with mountain biking — rather than learning through failure. Anyway, I was sure to pay close attention yesterday.

While learning our figure 8 knots, we were told that we will be judged by other climbers on how well we tie them. I immediately thought of my uncle chastising me about how I tie boat lines around the pilings on the dock… Judgment or not, safety first.

The class was three hours, with a break half-way through. The first half had us learning how to get into our (very uncomfortable) harnesses and tying our knots. After our break, we learned how to belay and the details of how the equipment works. This particular gym teaches the BUS method of belaying, which I had a little difficulty with for some reason. Something about moving my brake line arm up and down didn’t feel right. I’m sure I’ll get he hang of it, since I’m planning on going back to the gym as soon as possible. I think the added pressure of having another person’s safety in your hands was f’ing with me, too.

My climbing partner and I were paired up with a third person because the size of the class was large, and I wasn’t the only one having trouble with the belaying. It looked like our third was seriously taking my partner’s life in her hands. She spent more time with her brake line up than down. I was back-up belay and it was all I could do not to grab the rope from her and yank it down.

I did learn first-hand how important the anchor line is, too. Our third wheel partner was, shall we say – a little heavier than me – and I had to belay her on my first attempt. We were also left with one of the hardest sections of the wall to practice on. When she slipped, I wasn’t expecting to be lifted from my feet. Note to self: get my own harness, asap – dinky harnesses hurt the groin.

I had an awesome time climbing up some different routes on the wall and surprised myself a little with my own enthusiasm. I didn’t want to leave. I’m sold and can’t wait to go back to the gym. Winter is coming and I hear that El Nino is making a return with the promise of a lot of natural snow this year. And fall is the best time for mountain biking in this area. Now my poor mountain bike (along with my snowboard) is sitting in the garage with a lonely look, and I’m wondering how I’m going to squeeze my new activity into my hobby schedule. Not such bad problems to have, I suppose.