Saturday, May 31, 2008

There's no place like Roam

I think that every American youth should participate in a Walkabout.

This country is beautiful, and so many kids take off to Europe and South America to see the "world" before they have even seen their entire country. I really want to see the world, but right now I want to see my home.

I'm in cahoots with some pals about leaving Birmingham in August to do some traveling. It's going to be more of a "Driveabout" really. But I'm pretty sure a year of traveling and "squatting" will do me worlds of good. I want to stay put for the winter for the most part, so I've had some email conversations with my dad's friend in Jackson Hole about staying with her for a month or so while I find some work and save up more money half way through the trip to keep on trucking west to Washington and Oregon and then down the coast, taking the southern route home via the Grand Canyon.

Naturally, this trip has a motive: CLIMB the best rocks in the country. It just so happens that the best rocks in the country are located in some of the most scenic places on the continent.

I've gotten a notebook (thanks Alison for that idea) and I've made lots of notes about places I want to see and their distances from the other places I want to see. The people that are interested in this trip and I are going to have a sit-down and figure out if it makes sense that we travel together or not. I would like to have a travel buddy, but I think that more than one is probably not the smartest idea, especially in one car. I'm thinking of suggesting we "great American race" it, paired in two cars and planning tentative spots and dates to meet up, that way we can 1-have two cars and 2-be a little more flexible, even swap travel partners and whatnot.

I'm thinking of selling my car before this adventure starts; putting the money into a savings account so when I get to Jackson Hole if I like it, I can stay and have money saved to buy a car.

All just spit balling here. I'll keep you updated.

Three months to make all these decisions

Friday, May 30, 2008

My Trip out West VOL 2

Saturday, May 24, early in the morning

Morning in the Buttermilks is gorgeous! I have already maxed out my memory card (and in order to stretch it out have lowered the resolution on my pictures, so sadly I have no high quality pics) Today I hope to get to town and buy a new one.

I didn't sleep too well last night, my stomach was killing me! And once I got good and comfortable, the sun woke me up blazing hot on the black rain fly on my bivy. So I'm sitting here in my sleeping bag writing in my journal to keep me occupied until the others wake up.

Sunday, May 25, evening

Yesterday shaped up to be pretty nice. Erin and I were getting a little stir crazy being in the same spot, because the Buttermilk region does not have a whole lot of lower grade problems. We were both ready to get to Tahoe and climb some routes on rope. But we played around on a few V1s, refusing to top them out with only one pad and one spotter... We played on the Iron Man Traverse, a V-Hercules, but it was a lot of fun anyway. Mid-afternoon we went into town and bought a new memory card, got some dinner (I say dinner it was closer to lunch probably at 5pm) at Jack's Restaurant (not the fast food place). Back in the Buttermilks, we hiked and took some pictures then wandered back to camp. We built a fire and made some new friend. Mike, from Monterrey and John from Chattanooga. They hung out with us into the evening, drinking beer and watching Hippie Prime-time. For the first time since I've been out here I've actually been entertained in the evening and not really wanted to go to sleep.

Sunday we woke up in the morning to rain... lots and lots of rain. So we went into town to eat breakfast and hope the clouds would pass. They didn't. Ran into Mike and John at breakfast and they invited us to the Gorge (cannot for the life of me remember what the full name of the Gorge is). But Alex didn't want to go with them, so we packed up camp and headed for Tahoe. Sometime last night/this morning I misplaced my phone, so I'm cut off from outside connection to the world, it's a little frustrating seeing as I am playing third wheel something fierce.

On the way from Bishop to Tahoe we drove thru a blizzard. I took this pic out the window of the car, so it's not all that great... but SNOW in MAY none-the-less

Author's note: From here on out my travel journal turns into somewhat of a whiny mess, so I'll summarize the not-so-teenage-girl stuff.

Sunday night: Stayed at the Heavenly Inn, in a room with a queen bed and a futon, it was plenty nice- nicest part being the showers =)

Monday morning we woke up and it was raining again!!! So we checked out and went to see Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Good flick, I recommend it. After that we went back down the street and checked into the 3 Peaks Resort and Beach Club, also a very nice hotel. This time we got two rooms, and I must say I was very pleased to have a room of my own. The rain let up for long enough for us to walk down to the beach by the lake. We were able to "climb" a little on the jungle gyms:

After our "climbing" and dinner, Erin and I did a bit of shopping and decided to hit the town, I mean we were in South Lake Tahoe! So we found an Irish pub called McP's. They advertised pool tables and live music, our kinda place! (Alex stayed at the hotel) Erin and I blew off some (much needed) steam hanging out with the bar tenders and laughing it up. When they closed we walked down the street to the Casinos and had more drinks! Fun times!

Tuesday we woke up and headed for Reno. We stopped and ate along the way, made some detours looking for a place to get out and hike, with no avail. It was still raining. So we ate some Mexican food in Reno and settled into the La Quinta Inn for the night. Alex and I finally were able to get along for a little while, so we managed to end the trip on a good note. Erin passed out early while watching 300- so Alex and I emptied out the change holder in his car and raided the vending machine at 11pm.

Wednesday woke up and ate, went shopping for a minute and caught my plane in Reno.

Erin is staying out west with Alex until the end of June. They are headed to Seattle to pick up some friends and then crossing into Canada to live in Squamish for the rest of the summer. I hope that Erin has fun being the only girl in a house full of guys in Canada.

Back in Alabama, Adam picked me up from the airport and we went to Katie's to drink a beer before heading home. I was exhausted from travel, but so excited to see my friends! Now I'm back at work and life is trucking on...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Trip out West Volume 1

author's note: these blog posts were originally in the form of hand-written, old-fashioned travel journal, some content has been removed and edited due to personal content (ie: too much emotion)

Wednesday May 21, roughly 11 am

I've just read my climbing magazine cover to cover and looked at all the bad-ass pictures of all the bad-ass climbers and could not be more excited land in Nevada! Once we finally got through security, my vacation could actually begin. I'm what some might call a stress traveler: I pack, unpack and repack several times, starting weeks before my trip. I have to be at the airport AT LEAST an hour before scheduled take off and I like to go on and get through security with plenty of time to spare, just in case. Had this been an international flight, Erin might have shot me: our flight left at 9:50 this morning, so at 7:15 I was up and rearing to go. I take the dogs out, get myself all ready and then wake Erin up at 7:30. She takes a little longer to coax out of [couch]. {aside: the plan was for Adam to take us to the airport, so we just stayed at his house.} at 7:45, Lisa calls, she wants to ride to the airport with us, so she's en route to Adam's house. 7:50: waking up Adam is near impossible... at 7:59 Lisa arrives and Erin and I are on the curb; bags ready to go. At 8:25 Lisa arrives at the airport, "just drop us off, it's cool," I say trying to speed the process along as much as possible, I'm obviously stressed out at this point. At least I'm at the airport. We park and walk in, by 8:25 we are checked in, bags are checked ready to go. THEN Erin and Lisa want to eat breakfast, now you can only imagine my level of stress at this point. The flight TAKES OFF in ONE HOUR and the security line is getting long and they can think about FOOD!?!?! SO I call my mom and try not to think about it.

Finally at 9:25 we are through security and walking towards the gate. At 9:40 the flight starts to board and I'm finally able to relax and enjoy my day. I'm such the "Do-you-have-your-boarding-pass" mom-type of traveler. I'm in charge of the carry-on bag, I've got Erin's wallet, all the travel documents and even in charge of the magazines. I'm surprised that I didn't think to bring wet wipes or something- really, I have control issues.

That being said, if there's one thing that I really embrace about myself is my ability to be completely on my own. There was a point in my life where I didn't like to deal with things of importance (like talking to the phone company about my bill, or asking directions etc). But now all of the sudden I am able to travel on my own, even internationally, and I can take up the slack and take care of others on vacation, I can deal with problems that may arise and even make friends in the process. I think I may have finally come into my own skin at 26. I've discovered this whole new side of me who is completely content being alone (not that I don't highly value my friendships, because I do!) but to NEED someone around in order to function is a thing of the past. And now, sometime between 11 am and 1 pm, flying over somewhere between Mississippi and Utah, I feel completely free and stronger than ever. I am my own woman with an exciting life ahead of me and the resources to live it to the fullest!

Thursday, May 22nd around 8:30 pm-ish

I crashed EARLY last night! After Alex picked us up at the airport, we went and ate at a little bar and grill in Reno. Each of us had a couple of beers, then we hit up the Sierra Trading Post outlet store, (basically a really huge Alabama Outdoors, but naturally I loved every second of it). After we spent a little bit of money, we loaded up and headed for Bishop, California. As it was my first trip to California, I made myself stay awake to watch the mountains dance by in the windows until we hit California. "Welcome to California!" the sign said. I soon as I saw that, I stretched out in the backseat and snoozed the final two hours to Bishop. I was so tired that when we arrived at our camp sight, I was able to pull myself out of the backseat long enough to drink 3/4 of a Fat Tire, move some stuff around in the backseat, get my sleeping bag out of my pack and stretch back out. I woke up the next morning to this:

We ate some fruit and hiked around a bit, just soaking in the scenery:

We returned to the car after some hiking, ate some lunch and headed out for some climbing.

Unfortunately, the altitude had taken its toll on me and my day was neither productive nor comfortable. I got shut down by a V2, fell off a V1 and gave up. Mr. Headache won out today: so I spent most of my time taking pictures and napping in the sun. Around 4 o'clock we went into town and got a cup of coffee and hit up a grocery store. We moved camp sites , in the same area (The Buttermilks), but on the other side of the road, a little more out of the way from where we slept the first night. We set up camp for real, I get the pleasure of sleeping in a one-person Bivy shelter, not sure how that's going to fly. I tried to sit in the tent and write in my journal, but there is limited head room even for me; I wonder if I can even sleep in it... I guess there's only one way to find out. I'm going to attempt to read for a minute in there before going to sleep. If I am terribly uncomfortable, I will sleep in the car.

Friday, May 23rd sometime in the PM

I was able to read in the tent last night, although I was pretty tired, so I didn't really make it that far into the chapter before giving up and rolling over and going to sleep. I slept pretty well, woke up around 9 this morning when Tony, the California native who we met climbing yesterday, came over to the camp site. The four of us decided to ride into town for some coffee and breakfast then head over to the Happy Boulders on the other side of town.

When we got into town, we were informed that this weekend was Mule Days; complete with arts and crafts fair. We decided to check it out. Here's a picture of our gang sign we made up:

After we left town, we headed to the other side of Bishop to climb at the Happy Boulders.

The hike from the car to the first set of boulders was quite painful. It was at least a quarter mile straight up hill, carrying camera bag, snacks, climbing shoes and everyone's water for the day. Everyone else was carrying crash pads, so I don't know who had it worse, them or me. But once we got to the top of the mountain it was all worth it:

The weather in Bishop is crazy! It's 30ish at night, chilly in the morning and borderline broiling in the afternoon. But climb we did, I sent hard within my grade range and even hopped on some V4s for kicks. We met up with some kids from San Jose, Ca and projected with them for a while on the "Happy Boulder"

Here are a few pictures of us climbing at the Happies:

Yes, I was wearing a cape, and capline under my cut off jeans... it was the most amazing climbing outfit ever!

After a full day of Mule Days and climbing, we headed back to camp, stopping by the grocery store to pick up food for a gourmet camp meal. We had Salmon Pesto Pasta and it was GOOD!

Drank a couple Fat Tires by the fire and was done for the day.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Today, Monday May 19th officially marks the day where I can say that I leave the DAY AFTER TOMORROW for Lake Tahoe.


Erin and I are flying into Reno, NV on Wednesday where Alex will pick us up from the airport. We are going to spend a week camping and climbing in Nevada and hopefully even make it to California for a minute. I've never been either place and I'm really excited about the scenery and the photography potential. (not my pictures... wish they were)

Not to mention the climbing potential

I promise to blog about this trip, however you're going to have to wait until I get back to read all about it, 'cause I will be far far away from internet access! Cell phones may work, on a leave a message, I'll call you back basis. While camping, there will be no cellulars allowed, I'll call you back when I get into a city.

Well, I'm going to go and continue to day dream about my trip!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Keeping up with the boys

Wednesday Adam and A. Tyler and I went to Horse Pens 40. It was threatening to rain all day, but like the good climbers we are, we checked the weather before heading out there. The radar showed rain around 7 or 8, so we figured it would be well worth the quarter tank of gas and $5 day-fee to get some climbing in.

I should really start paying better attention to the names and ratings of the problems that I get on, but I'm really not all that concerned with bragging rights- well, maybe a little. We worked on three problems. The first one was a bit of a highball, and was rather reachy after the third move, so I was not able to top it out on this trip... add it to the project list. Both the boys flashed it. The second "problem" we came to was one that A Tyler and Tyler D put up (we're sure that someone's climbed it before, but it's not in the guide book, so they can claim it all day long) They named it "I've got you're momma's number" it's a 45 degree slant climb (picutre above that looks like a broken heart), really fun and easy, all three of us flased it and moved on.

[aside: this trip I was concentrating on climbing more and really didn't take any pictures at all, sorry for the lack of visuals]

The guys wanted to work on one of Adam's projects, not a clue on what it's rated, I'd put it at a V4, maybe. A Tyler flashed it (he's such a bad-ass and sometimes I hate climbing with him) Adam got on it and worked it for a minute before I looked at them and said, "I'm putting my shoes on, I think I can do this." They told me to go for it. First move, static and solid, second, static and solid... third not so beautiful but after working it for a minute I was to the crux... I use an extra hold because of my height difference, but essentially Adam and I were stuck at the same spot, his spot was just a little reachier than mine. After giving it our all for about 30 minutes, we decided to keep this one on the project list and move on.

After that we moved on to a pseudo arete problem near the bridge. Once again, Tyler with the flash and Adam and I struggling a little. Right off the bat I figured out some pretty good beta on this problem, a little different to what Adam was using. We worked this problem for a good while, Adam finally sent it, but for a good twenty minutes he and I were neck and neck...
I know that climbing is not about climbing harder than your partner, but to be able to keep up with a strong climber who has been climbing for 4 years (I've been climbig for 4 months) makes me feel good about my progress.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Boom Boom Boom!

First of all, Elu has been returned safe and sound, thank goodness! And I'm also sitting for Safety, Adam's dog. So Sunday I took the kids to the boulder fields for a little romp in the woods and figured I do a little bit of climbing as well. The temperature dropped after the huge storm Saturday night, so the friction was good and it wasn't so miserably muggy to be climbing.

When I pulled up my buddy Dave was in the parking lot, unloading the BOOM...

{aside: The boom is an apparatus built for the aide in taking bad-ass pictures while hanging from a rock. Basically it pulls you out from the rock about 15-20 feet so that you have a better downward angle. The difference of 20 feet makes a HUGE difference in the way the picture looks. It will take a shot from this

to making it look a little more something like this:

(Neither of these are pictures I've taken since I haven't taken any from above on a route yet, just making sure you get the point.) }

SO Dave has the boom, and all the gear to set it up, so we can test it out. I can't really begin to tell you all about all the set-up this boom requires, it's nuts! we've got a 200 foot rope, two ascenders, a grigi, a reverso, and ridiculous amount of carabiners to suspend this thing from the ground. After much fiddling and hooking and me not paying attention to how he did it this thing was hooked up and ready for me to LIFT...

Harness on, locked in and learning to jumar, or ascend the rope. Ok, so pulling myself up the rope is not that hard, I'm used to using my legs and arms to pull my 120 pounds directly upwards... I've learned how to use every muscle in my body, working together to do such a thing. Okay, now this boom does not weigh as much as I do, however it's dead weight. SO I've got to get above the Boom, lock off, put my foot in a rung of the rope ladder, rest the boom on my knee, pull up the reverso first, then the ascender and use two hands to move the boom up about 3 feet. THEN I start all over, me up, lock, foot, reverso, pull.

When I get the boom to where I want it to be, I simply kick off from the rock as hard as I can and grab the boom, walking my way out to the end of it, and tie off so that I'm away from the rock. Overall, a really cool way to wear yourself out and get some cool pictures...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Still no ELU...

So after having done all I can do to find my dog, with no avail, I called Khoury, he was headed to the boulder fields... so I hopped in the car and headed towards Hoover. Upon arrival, I find that Scott is there too. We're in for a little night session. The boys "warmed up" on Super Trip (way out of my grade level at a V6,7,8? I don't even know off hand) so I went and worked on "pregnancy" it's a v2. I sent it.

We reconvened at "tree problem." aptly named in that the hardest part of the problem is keeping your ass off the tree. I took lots of pictures of them climbing this particular problem. Several angles, all quite artsy and fancy, but they need some photo-shoping for added pizazz. But these are my two favorites of each of them:

Scott Ballard

Khoury Wood
After they got tired, they were nice enough to come spot me on Cheese is Good (v2; more my speed) I jumped up on it right away and had no problem throwing to the second move, and then even the third, but my foot slipped and I fell off and to the right, missing the pad almost completely and I was kinda sketched out for the night. I did continue to get up on it, but, as Khoury put it, I lacked commitment. But we only climb for the pictures anyway, right? So here's some shots of me on Cheese:

First attempt... making it to the right hand rail...

then second attempt able to get that left hand side pull, but the right hand didn't want to follow as smoothly...
Here's a shot from the start... just checking it out

Well, a pretty eventful Monday night, at least I got one send in (even if no one was around to see it)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Well, it shaped up to be a beautiful weekend after all.

The only down side from the weekend is that my dog, Elu got out of the fence Saturday while I was at work and hasn't come back yet. So, instead of going camping and getting up early this morning, we decided to stay home and wait for the dog to come back... she hasn't yet.

Erin and I woke up around ten this morning ans decided to try and meet up with our friends. The plan as of Saturday afternoon was to camp at Horse Pens 40 and then go up to Sandrock in the morning, so I was hoping that although I hadn't gone camping with them, that the plan would still be the same. When I'm out at the crag, I normally love that cell phones don't work out there but it's really annoying when I'm back in the city and trying to get in touch with those at the rock. SO, long story short we took off and hoped that our friends were there and we would be able to find them... but they weren't there.

I had my rope, five quick draws an ATC and my harness, and Erin had her harness- plenty of gear for a short lead on Girl Scout 7 we assumed. So we head over to GS7 and there were people on it. We asked them how long they thought they would be and the answer was 20-30 minutes, so we decided to boulder around for a bit before heading back to the route. While we were bouldering, we met up with a man who was also sans partner for the day. He helped us set up top rope in the bouldering area (too highball for most people to even think of topping out... Willcutt did at night, but that's another story altogether). The top rope wasn't too bad, it was a little body puzzle- once I figured out where I needed to fit the pieces, it was pretty much a cake walk. After the three of us ran up the rock, we moved back to GS7... people on it again. So we decided to tackle That 8, aka Kennel Club 8. I attempted to lead it, got the above the second bolt and got sketched out about taking my fist fall with someone I don't know on belay, so I came down and let him lead it. Once on top rope I cruised it! First time dealing with closed shuts, that was kinda a head trip having to UNTIE from the rope to thread it thru the chains, (don't worry mom I anchored to the bolts with a separate safety line) but I did it, and it was a good one to learn on seeing as there was a HUGE ledge to stand on and plenty of room to move around.

After I came down from that, Erin attempted it once and made it half way up before deciding she was pumped. We packed up and headed home.

Goes to show you that it's never a bad idea to just head out to the crag and see what's up. You might get lucky and make a new friend.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rain Rain go away!

First of all, I'm very well aware of the fact that we are in a drought and I should be happy there is rain to drench the earth with water which we so desperately need. That being said: WHY DOES IT HAVE TO RAIN ON THE WEEKENDS???

I mean, seriously!?! I have not been out to Sandrock in two weeks and I desperately want to climb a route. Bouldering is fun and all, so is indoor, but it's just not the same as being face to face with a rock 40-50 feet off the ground. Plus I'm getting really excited about taking some good photographs. I don't have that much to work with from the snapshots of the last few trips.

Sure would be a good time for me to be into kayaking more...

Well, keep your fingers crossed that it will rain until around noon and then clear up and be sunny and windy until dark tomorrow and then rain on until my next day off!