Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Rainy Red River Gorge Adventures!

If there’s one thing you can count on when planning trips to the Red River Gorge in the spring, it’s rain.  While rain doesn’t generally equate to the best climbing conditions, there is thankfully one other thing you can count on at the Red – there will be dry rock NO MATTER WHAT.  And not just 5.12 and up dry rock – but dry rock at all grades.  So when we saw rain percentages hovering in the 80-90% ranges, we just tossed the rain gear in the van and hit the road as planned.  

The sand pit at the base of the Buckeye Wall was dry as a bone in the midst of a downpour!

Thankfully, skies were clear when we set up camp at Land of the Arches Campground Thursday night.  However, thanks to a whopper of a storm that rolled in a little after 5 am Friday morning, our crew was up and ready to rock and roll by 6.  Not surprisingly, we were the first to the Motherlode parking lot.  At this point I should probably stop and confess that in 8 years of pilgrimages to the Red, our family had not once been to the Motherlode. Shocking, I know, but we made things right on this trip.

CragDaddy trying hard on Buff the Wood 12b

We started our day out warming up on Ben 11a, not a bad climb, but also not a good warm-up – reachy moves on holds that felt like they were coated in toothpaste.  The mist that hung over the entire wall did not help climbing conditions or our psych level, but we pressed on and all took a run up Breathe Right 11c, before moving on to the left side of the cliff.  We all got thrashed on Buff the Wood 12b before CragDaddy noticed that the narrow, blunt arete we’d been eyeing earlier was looking pretty dry.  You’d think a line as unique as this would have been named something a little more classy than Ball Scratcher 12a, but it is what it is.  The climbing was very un-Mother-lode-ish, following a slabby to vertical rounded corner at the end of the wall.  Very technical, very funky, and very much the style of climbing that we love.  It is a little heady – the bolts follow the corner, but the climbing sometimes steps to one side or the other, meaning that a fall in certain places will take you around the corner.  (For the record, however, CragDaddy took one of those whips when he unexpectedly popped off around the 3rd bolt, and while rather exciting, it was still a very clean fall.)

The movement was fairly sustained, but I didn’t feel pumped because I was on my feet the whole way.  It might be worth noting though, that CragDaddy felt pretty pumped at the top and thought the feet were really awkward, so maybe this one is better for the shorties?  The crux for all of us was at the top, but to be fair one of the key slopers was wet, so on a dry day that move might not be so cruxy.  Anyway, thanks to some great CragDaddy beta I flashed the route, but unfortunately the send train left the station before anyone else could hop on.  We’ll definitely be back though…apparently Ball Scratcher is a good warm-up for the classic Swahili Slang 12c, which looked pretty sweet, but was wet at the top.  

Keepin’ it classy on Ball Scratcher 12a

Friday night our big orange tent was assaulted by yet another wicked band of thunderstorms.  Thankfully, all the kids slept though it this time, and our only casualty was our pop up gazebo that we won at a Harris Teeter giveaway 15 years ago (We had some good, dry times under that little gazebo…may it finally rest in peace.)  Saturday we headed out to Roadside Crag – our first time there since they reopened and adopted the new permit system in 2015.  I’d forgotten what a great place this is for families.  Short hike, flat, sandy cliff base, and just about everything stays dry after days and days of downpours!  

After getting flash-pumped on our warm-up the day before, we started a little slower this time – AWOL 10a, before heading over to Up Yonder 11b.  It took me 2 go’s to put down Up Yonder – my first attempt of the day I fell making a move to what turned out to be the wrong hold towards the top.  Second go I made it through, albeit with a little bit of feet flying around at the top.  But the send was meaningful, since it was one of my first climbs ever at the Red, attempted on toprope when I was only 11 weeks preggo with Big C!  

Best cragkiddos ever!

We then decided to check out the hyper classic steepness of Ro Shampo 12a.  Ro Shampo is one of those routes that everyone that’s ever climbed at the Red seems to know about, whether you climb 5.8, 5.12, or 5.14.  It’s a very aesthetic line that rides up giant incut plates.  Although it’s a first 5.12 for many, I personally was pretty intimidated standing underneath it.  It’s relatively short, but while the holds are huge, so is the distance between them.  It’s got a reputation for requiring a lot of dynamic movement for anyone not blessed with the wingspan of an albatross.  

Initially, I wasn’t that psyched.  The moves looked big, with the fall potential even bigger, and it was my turn to hang draws.  But the wise CragDaddy was right as usual – we owed it to ourselves to at least try it.  So off I went, on a bolt to bolt exploratory mission.  And I felt pretty good on it!  I hung on every bolt but did all the moves first try save the crux.  The crux took a little bit of work to find something that would work for my body type, but I managed to figure out some pretty solid beta (that was, not surprisingly, COMPLETELY different than what we’d ever seen anyone else do.)  

CragDaddy looking strong on Up Yonder 11b

Our typical rule of thumb for attempting harder routes is that unless it is an absolute flail-fest, you need to try it a second time to really get a feel for how close you are to sending.  So although I was still a bit doubtful, I gave it another run, and managed to link enough together for a two-hang.  I fell at the crux, but refined my beta a little more, and also hung once more up high.  By now, I had apparently found my big girl panties and was starting to feel a lot more confident with the moves, and therefore having a lot more fun with it.  My third attempt was actually a decent redpoint burn – I made it through the crux, and fell trying to make the next big deadpoint move…however, after I pulled back up, I found some different beta that seemed like it would be much more of a sure thing when I was coming in hot.  The CragDaddy was also having a lot of success.  His tall man crux beta looked far cooler than mine, and his high point on the day was actually just two moves from the top.  We hiked out feeling thrilled with the progress we made pushing ourselves out of our technical face climbing comfort zones into the steep arena.  

Rebekah on AWOL 10a, while the cragkiddos do their thing below

The more we talked about it that night back at camp, the more and more sure I was that I could send it if I could just get another chance.  With a pretty much washout forecast for the next day, it wasn’t that hard to convince our compadres to head back there again.  So early Sunday morning, I found myself once again staring up at Ro Shampo, this time ready to give it all I had.  Now the CragDaddy and I have figured out a long time ago that when you have a project at the Red, it can often be beneficial to warm-up on it by going bolt to bolt.  Unlike our fave Endless Wall routes at the New, the Red tends to lack a lot of tweaky holds that would make starting out with cold fingers a bad idea (and even if there are one or two, it’s usually pretty easy to just pull through.)  Starting right in on the project allows you to re-familiarize yourself with the beta, going bolt to bolt prevents the dreaded flash-pump, and eliminating a different warm-up route potentially gives you an extra attempt later in the day.  (Not a big deal if it’s just two climbers…but for those of us with kids that often only get in 4-5 pitches TOTAL in a day, making the most of that first burn can make a HUGE difference!)  

Cruxin on Ro Shampo 12a

So that was our plan.  CragDaddy got things rolling with a smooth one-hang.  This route was gonna go down for him for sure.  I tied in and told my belayer that I was most likely not going to try hard, and was going to hang the minute I started to feel any sort of flash pump.  Off I went.  A couple of minutes later and I was clipping the chains!  I just felt too good to stop!  CragDaddy promptly followed suit on his next burn, along with a couple other people that were running laps on our draws.  Send train days are the best!  

Taking over the crag one hammock at a time.

I ended my day on the two lines I’d never attempted on the 5.10 wall – Dragonslayer 10d and Pulling Pockets 10d.  Both were good routes, but I enjoyed the latter a lot more.  Since CragDaddy hadn’t sent Up Yonder the previous day, he tried that one again and the 3rd time was the charm.  We hiked out around 3 and despite the rain, still made it home by 10.  

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend forecast isn’t looking much better, so we’ll see where we end up this weekend – where is everyone else headed?

 

Share

Mother’s Day Kayaking Adventure

“I want to do a family adventure but I don’t want to pack food, clothes, or gear.  I just want to show up and have fun.”  That was my request to the CragDaddy when asked how I wanted to spend my Mother’s Day this year.  Originally we’d planned to go climbing, as that’s pretty much always Plan A this time of year.  But we had trouble finding partners (story of our lives of late), and no one was psyched to get back in the car again after just returning home from the beach. So we opted for Plan B, which ended up being my favorite Mother’s Day yet!  

Stopping on one of many “mini-islands” for a family photo opp courtesy of some other paddlers.

Having 2 full days at home is somewhat of a luxury in itself – Friday night I got a massage that was absolutely heavenly.  CragDaddy and I tagteamed at the climbing gym Saturday morning/early afternoon, and then the whole family went to Carowinds! (It’s our first year as season pass holders, and we can’t recommend it highly enough – if you are local to the Charlotte area, it’s a GREAT deal…but that’s for another post!)

Kids being kids in the water…also, MAP shoes!

If the festivities had stopped on Saturday night, I would have counted it as a great Mother’s Day.  But our grand finale family kayaking adventure (the one I didn’t want to pack for) at Landsford Canal on Sunday really put the weekend over the top for me.  This was actually my second time paddling through the breathtaking spider lily blooms along the Landsford Canal State Park stretch of the Catawba River.  The first time was last Mother’s Day, when Big C and I paddled it, and CragDaddy and Little Zu ran our support shuttle from put-in to take-out.  This year, I wanted to take Little Zu along as well, and CragDaddy of course didn’t want to be left out of the fun.  We talked at length about the best way to get everyone down the river – buying another boat (we’ve been looking into getting another anyway, but haven’t decided what we want yet), renting a boat (kind of inconvenient since they don’t rent on site), or taking turns (shuttling the car twice would DEFINITELY be annoying.)  

Taking in the beauty!

We weren’t coming up with any good answers, until Big C finally said, “Can we all go together?”  CragDaddy and I looked at each other.  Four people is a LOT to have in a kayak, even though we would still be under the weight limit by about 30 pounds or so.  There’s just only so much leg room in a 13 foot boat.  But we figured we had nothing to lose by trying.  When we got there we played around with different seating arrangements (on land.)  The great thing about our inflatable kayak is that the seats are removable, so we can put them wherever we want – ie, give Big C and CragDaddy’s long, gangly legs more room than Zu and me. 

No shortage of joy in this boat…but leg room is at a premium!

Once we got our seating beta in order, we put in and did some test paddling close to shore.  We were definitely riding pretty low, and CragDaddy’s and my ability to maneuver the boat with small children in our laps was rather lacking.  But everyone was game for some adventure, so off we went!  We crashed into a couple of rocks.  We got stuck a few times.  But the shenanigans were totally worth it, and potentially made it even more fun.  Wild laughter ensued every time we hit a bump, and the kids were all smiles when they got to get out and stretch their legs amongst all the lilies.  We even counted 5 blue herons!  When we reached the take out point, the kiddos and I splashed around the river while CragDaddy hoofed it back up the trail to get the car to come pick us up.  

So with two years running, I guess you might say we now have an official Mother’s Day tradition!  That means we have a whole year to pick out another boat…because with the way these kids are growing, I seriously doubt we’ll be lucky enough to go 4 strong in our little boat next year!  As I reflect on the weekend, I’m so thankful for these 3 people God has given me to do life with.  They are the best adventure buddies a wife and mother could ask for!  For all of my fellow adventure mamas out there, I hope your weekend was just as special – please feel free to share a comment on how your family adventure’d (or just RELAXED!), because I love hearing your stories!

All done and waiting for CragDaddy to pick us up.

OH!  And PS…the kiddos’ water sandals from M.A.P Footwear were perfect for this adventure.  I reviewed this company’s kid shoes in a previous post found here.  And I’ve got great news if your small explorers need new kicks for the summer – check out the full line of M.A.P products here , and enter CRAGMAMA20 when prompted at checkout to redeem 20% off your order!  Small print: Promo code is valid for 20% of full priced product and on order placed now through June 3, 2017 at 12:01 EST. Promotion is only applicable to first time customers and valid for one transaction per customer. This coupon cannot be applied retroactively or combined with any other M.A.P. Shoes coupon code.

 

 

Share

Camping, Climbing, and Salamanders!

Our family has been eagerly, yet anxiously awaiting the start of the spring camping season.  Eager because we love waking up in the woods…anxious because there’s one member in our family that loves being awake in the woods so much that she refuses to go to sleep.  However, now that nighttime temps have gotten up in the 50’s, staying in a cheap motel seems like an unnecessary expense.  So off we set on Friday afternoon, aiming for Hidden Valley Lake, a serene gem hidden high on a ridge above the town of Abingdon, VA.  We got there with plenty of light to set up camp as well as explore the lake.  (Note:  If you have a canoe/kayak/etc, definitely bring it!  We were sorry we didn’t!) 

Compared to last fall and previous years, bedtime was a breeze…both nights!  And I am proud to say that Little Zu slept better than she EVER has in a tent…both nights! Oh what a difference a night of sleep makes to your morning outlook.  But moving on…because any more on that and I fear I may jinx our next trip…

“Big Orange” is back in action folks!

We had cast a wide net for climbing partners this weekend (Climbing With Kids Strategy #86), and had one of those rare weekends where a lot of people showed up!  It worked out perfectly, however, because Hidden Valley is great for a crowd.  Saturday was pretty hot, considering the leaves aren’t fully out on the trees yet to shade the cliff, so we kept the grades down, so we wouldn’t have to try as hard (in theory, anyway.)

Did you know mayapple leaves make great parachutes for action figures?

You’ll Need More Charmin Mr. Whipple 11a – GREAT route at the first wall you come to, called “Butt City.”  (Yeah the kids think that one is hysterical.)  Sequency and very committing at the crux, my first attempt I got flash pumped getting my hands out of order…2nd go send for me. 
Deciduous Enema 11a – Another really good one, also at Butt City, if you couldn’t tell by the name.  Short but very steep with a really big stand up move at the top, I was really psyched to put it all together on the first go.  
Primetime Players 11b – This is a variation to the popular Farley 5.9 at the SNL Wall.  The first 3 bolts are shared, then PTP breaks off left and heads to the top of the cliff (great views, don’t forget to turn around!)  The crux is pulling a bulge via a sequence of surprisingly positive crimps.  My first time up I had my fingertips on the final crux hold and just couldn’t hold on.  Womp womp.  2nd go send.  
Rattleheaded Copper Moccasin 11d – This route was a very steep but very short little number that was super fun…but nowhere near 11d.  Usually I refrain from complaining about grades (see my confession below), but in this case it felt so off it might be a misprint.  Maybe it’s supposed to be 10d? Whatever the “real” grade is though, it was awesome and I highly recommend it – and certainly don’t let yourself be intimidated by the grade!!!

A little evening dip.

Day 2 we got out to the crag pretty early…and we were VERY encouraged to be able to each get in a pitch before any other partners showed up!  We are ALMOST in that magical time where we don’t have to constantly line up extra people!  The kids discovered a little cave they christened “Salamander Town” (much better than “Butt City”, in my opinion!) and played beautifully together while CragDaddy took his turn to hang draws on Dynamo Hum 11c. Considering my “flash” game may have been a little off the day before, I was super excited to win the battle against this one today.  (Non-climbers – A flash means doing the route with no hangs/falls on your first try, after either seeing or talking to someone else about it, as opposed to an onsight, which is a 1st go send with no prior info.)

Kiddos playing in “Salamander Town” while CragDaddy tries Yabuisha 12a

Dynamo Hum felt pretty darn hard for the grade, and I was more than happy to take some beta from the CragDaddy about where the best holds were.  There were two defined cruxes, one right off the ledge that seemed harder if you’re tall, and another a few bolts later that seemed harder if you’re short – so a little something for everyone!  

Salamander Town

We then moved next door to Yabuisha 12a…and stayed there all day.  CragDaddy got the draws in and figured out the beta, which he then spoonfed me move for move for the entire route….until the very last move to the chains when I fell.  Aaaah, so close!!!  (But, actually, after realizing how hard that last move was to figure out, I wasn’t nearly as close as I’d initially thought!)  Curses to those heartbreak finishes!  Despite coming up short, I felt really good about my flash effort.  My 2nd attempt I fell in a random spot when I bonked my elbow on the rock mid-move (?!?), yet I was able to link the entire upper half of the route, so I felt like a 3rd go send was pretty likely, so long as I had enough gas left in the tank at day’s end.  My 3rd go felt great – there are multiple cruxes to check off before earning the chance to try the last move on point, but I felt strong throughout.  I was coming in to the finish pretty hot, but had my beta dialed and didn’t hesitate.  I set my feet and popped up to a small right hand gaston, and stuck it!  All I had to do was go once more to a better part of the crack.  But something felt off.  The next hold looked a lot farther away than I’d remembered it.  I was locking off with all my might, but all of my efforts were simply keeping me in the same place, and there was no forward progression.  After stalling out for a couple of seconds, I slumped down on the rope.  Geez.  Back to the 4×4’s at the gym I guess.  

Stretched out on Yabuisha 12a

Trying real hard not to step on my finger in a hand/foot match.

Obviously, I wish I would have sent.  It’s frustrating to make it 5 feet from the anchors on my first try, then by the end of attempt 3 find myself only a half a move closer before falling.  Compared to the other 12’s we’ve been on at Hidden Valley, this one is head over heels harder.  And while I know we all like to say and act as if the numbers don’t matter, I’m gonna be completely transparent and say that if this particular grade was a little higher, I wouldn’t be so annoyed.  Ahh!  I don’t like the way that makes me sound, but if you can honestly say you’ve never once gotten sucked into a climbing grade debate, feel free to start throwing stones.  Ok, confession done.  

Bottom line?  Who cares about grades – every single route I touched this weekend was fun, and Yabuisha is definitely on my “best of the grade” list for Hidden Valley!  For sure a worthy opponent, and I will for sure be coming back for it SOON.  But first, back to those 4×4’s…

Share

Tuck Fest 2017: Deep Water Solo Competition

Two of my biggest fans. The little one cried every time I hit the water, while the big one kept requesting a cannonball finish.

It probably goes without saying that this week’s “Tuck Fest” post is far more fun to write than last week’s “Puke Fest” one. It’s an understatement to say that my days leading up to the Tuck Fest DWS comp consisted of a lot more “momming” than training.  By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, I really didn’t know what to expect, but while I was a bundle of nerves, I was pretty thankful no one in our family was throwing up.

The DWS facility at the US National Whitewater Center is the first and only permanent structure of it’s kind in the WORLD.  Couple that with the $15,000 purse up for grabs at the podium, it’s no surprise that the best competition climbers in the country showed up.  Considering that neither of those adjectives describe little old me (literally old…I was twice the age of most those girls!), I was actually just thrilled to be invited, and my goal was pretty simple – to try my hardest and savor every moment of the experience!  Here’s the play by play…

QUALIFIERS: (aka “qualies,” which is what the cool people call it…)

My friend Joe and I were the very first to check in, which meant we were the VERY first on the walls.  Personally I was psyched about that – the comp was an onsight format, which meant that we weren’t allowed to see anyone else on any of the routes before it was our turn.  So, in my mind there was no advantage to sitting in isolation getting more and more nervous by the minute…

Joe and I getting in the groove on our first routes.

Once qualifiers started, climbers were moved through 6 routes on the wall (3 for men, 3 for women) like an assembly line, so there wasn’t any time to think.  We had 2 minutes to climb, then 30 seconds to get out of the pool, 2 minutes rest, then 30 seconds to get to the next route’s start holds, and on and on like a well-oiled machine.  In fact, by the time I toweled off, changed shoes (it’s hard to take off wet climbing shoes!!!!!), and chalked up, it was time to get in position to go again.  From touching the first starting holds of route 1 until splashing down after route 3, only 8 minutes had passed!  

My first route went really well.  I sent it pretty easily, and felt a surge of confidence coming up out of the water.  I also felt a surge of breathlessness – every time I hit the water the wind got knocked out of me, and swimming to the side of the pool (in climbing shoes), was actually pretty difficult.  But what a rush!  Route 2 was a little harder, and I stalled out a little at the beginning, but finished up the rest of it without any issues.  Route 3 was the hardest of the bunch, and taller.  There were multiple cruxes, and it took me a long time to figure out each, but I managed to make it til the second to last hold before punting off!  I exited the pool swirling with excitement, very happy about my performance.  As the night went on, however, I started to realize that I’d done even better than I’d initially thought; By the end of the night, I was in 12th place, which meant that I got to move on to the finals on Saturday!!!  FYI, you can watch the whole qualifying round for free from start to finish on the Floclimbing website found here, since I was lucky enough to climb first, it’s pretty easy to pick me out!  (You can also watch the finals…but ya gotta pay for it!)

SEEDING ROUND (Saturday morning)

At this point, most of the nerves from the night before had melted into giddiness – as far as I was concerned, earning a spot in the top 16 was the best possible outcome I could have imagined.  In my mind, the hard part was over, and I was grateful to still be along for the ride.  

Going big…and finding success!

Seeding round was a lot different than qualifiers – more low-key in logistics, but stiffer in competition.  We got 2 chances at one route, waiting back in isolation behind the wall in between turns.  We did get to preview it though, and I took one look at the route and knew I was out of my league.  The wall was steeper, and the moves were bigger.  Much bigger.  We were CLEARLY not in qualifiers anymore…

Turns out I was up first…again.  I crept out to the start holds, reeeaalllly hoping not to be the total dork that falls in the water before I get there.  Try hard.  Go big.  I kept repeating that mantra to myself as I carefully made my way up to what I had identified in my preview as the first crux.  Maybe the span between holds wasn’t as big as it looked? I set up on the holds underneath it and stared down a pair of purple holds that may as well have been a mile away.  Nope – still huge.  I finagled my feet here and there, trying to get set up to make the lunge. 

Let me back up for a moment…I’m an outdoor climber who prefers long, technical routes that require far more technique and mental strength than physical strength.  Not to say that I don’t train power – I feel like I’m CONSTANTLY working to improve my ability to make big moves…but power is not a natural strength of mine, and is always lagging behind in my personal repertoire of climbing skills.  

So back to these big purple jugs.  I knew my body didn’t have the coordination to just let go and leap, but it looked like I could potentially deadpoint the move and not have to dyno. (Non-climber translation: “deadpoint” is a lunge move where at least one body part stays on – you’re feet cut AFTER you’ve hit the next hold, or one hand stays on the whole time, as opposed to a “dyno” where all body parts are off the wall for a split second.)  Though not at all sure I’d have the arm span,  I sank down low on the holds, paused briefly, then lunged….AND I STUCK THE HOLD!!!  It made a loud slapping sound, and it took me a few seconds before I realized that I was still on the wall.  I kept going, but got stalled out and eventually fell just a few moves later.  

One move away from my high point at seeding. Photo cred: Bryan Miller of @fixedlinemeda

Turns out that move was a not-so-biggie for all the serious competitors, as there were only a handful of climbers that fell before my high point.  In fact, the majority of the women completed the entire route on both of their attempts.  But for me, onsighting that move was huge, and was potentially one of the hardest moves I successfully completed all weekend, so I walked away both satisfied as well as motivated.

FINALS!  (Saturday afternoon)

My mediocre performance in the seeding round landed me in 13th place for finals, which pitted me against nationally-ranked Atlanta climber Tori Perkins (seeded 4th) for the head to head final.  I’d seen her crush the seeding round, and was fairly certain I was about to be obliterated.  But I just couldn’t stop smiling – I knew I wasn’t going to win, and so did the 1000+ people out on the lawn spectating, so there was absolutely no pressure!  Not surprisingly, I got knocked out in the first round, although it ended up being a far closer match-up than I’d originally anticipated.  But oh what a thrill to be able to tackle that big wall in front of a cheering home crowd!  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be there and do my best to represent the home team!

First round of finals…photo creds: Jennie Jariel

In reflection, it was very interesting to experience a completely different form of climbing than what I’m used to.  Comparing outdoor rock climbing to competitive gym climbing is probably like comparing back country skiing to slalom racing…the skills sets are similar, but they really are two very different sports, and only the best of the best can be good at both at the same time.  I have a lot of respect for these little girls with far superior strength, power, and route-reading abilities than I could ever hope to have. (seriously for a couple of them, I’ve been climbing longer than they’ve been alive!)   As far as the competition scene goes though?  They can have it.  It was novelty fun for me, but I’ll take real rock any day over plastic…although jumping into a pool might sound pretty refreshing come summertime!  But for now, I’m looking forward to getting back to regularly scheduled programming this weekend!   

Share

Easter Eggs, Climbing, and the Car Ride from Hell…

This week has been a rough one as I have been nursing a toddler with a bad case of the throw ups (see below), while trying to manage some bad spasms in my lower back.  That being said, writing a trip report has been fairly low on the priority list, but the blogosphere has granted me about an hour to bang one out tonight, so here goes.  Our weekend can be summed up pretty easily in 3 distinct parts, as noted in the title.  I’ll tackle them in order…

Easter Eggs –

It’s been our family tradition since 2013 to have an at-the-crag Easter Egg Hunt.  Although it’s somewhat of a pain to drag buckets of plastic eggs everywhere throughout the day, the kids look forward to it so much that we just can’t say no.  And this year, we crammed everything into Big C’s backpack anyway, so really the only trouble was keeping track of the exponentially larger explosion of kid stuff at the base of the cliff.  In previous years Little Z has been too little to really “get it,” and aside from placing a few token eggs pretty much directly in front of her, she didn’t really participate.  This year, however, she was READY.  We’d already gotten a decent amount of “hunting” done at friend’s and family’s houses, so she was anxious to step up her game.  After all, at-the-crag egg hunts are not for beginners; a good egg hunter needs to be willing to look inside holes that potentially house creepy-crawlies, and able to scale rock faces (with a grown-up spotter, of course!)  

Another Easter tradition we have at the crag is bringing resurrection rolls for any and all who would like to partake.  It’s nothing more than a crescent roll with a sugar and butter coated marshmallow melted inside, but the hollow result makes for a great visual of the empty tomb for the kiddos, and great sending treats for all!  

Climbing –

As you probably have guessed, our weekend also included a bit of climbing…though not nearly as much as we’d originally intended.  In between egg hunting and resurrection roll eating, we managed to squeeze in 4 pitches, only 2 of which are worth mentioning.  Pocketful of Rattlebugs 11a is potentially the best of the grade at Hidden Valley – definitely do it if you are in the area!  It’s a pocket-pulling, finger-locking good time if I ever had one – AND it stays dry in a downpour!  I ended my day on Gristle 12a, a steep, juggy line with a hard boulder problem at the top.  It took me quite a while to finally make the crux move, but I eventually got it worked out.  That one move is really hard for me, and I know it would be even harder coming in hot on point…but I always tell people that you never get a good picture of how close or far you are on a route until you give it a second go, so I should probably take my own advice and hop on it again next time.  Why didn’t I just get on it the next day, you wonder?  Well, that brings me to the final piece of this post…

CragDaddy starting the business of Gristle 12a

The Car Ride From Hell –

To get the full effect, we need to back up a bit.  CragDaddy and I had gone up to Hidden Valley for the weekend knowing we didn’t have any extra partners for Sunday to help with the kiddos, but we were up for going for it.  After all, with Little Zu being 3 now, we are sooo close to being able to fly solo, so long as we are at a kid-friendly crag (ie flat, safe base with no drops/water hazards/etc),  In fact, the past few times we’ve been out, there have been times that the kids have been so engrossed with playing with each other, they’ve hardly noticed whoever was on “kid-duty.”  Ironically enough, however, we DID actually run into some friends at the end of Day 1 with whom we made some symbiotic climbing plans with; the wife was 35 weeks pregnant and obviously not wanting to  catch lead falls.  Our mutually beneficial plan would have worked out great I’m sure, except that when we arrived at the base of the cliff the next morning, Little Zu promptly began puking her guts out.  

Just before the crux, Gristle 12a

I will spare you the details on the off chance you are eating dinner as you read this, but let me say this – if you think throw ups are gross at home, multiplying that grossness by a factor of 10 pales in comparison to what happened over the next 5 hours.  By the time we got back to the car, Little Zu had gotten vomit all over herself, all over me, and all over the backpack carrier.  Thank heavens for the Easter Egg bucket that we were able to re-purpose as a barf bucket in the car, otherwise the car situation would have been FAR worse.  Still, I lost track of how many times we had to stop to change her clothes, but we were averaging every 15 minutes or so for most of the drive, save the hour or so that she was able to sleep some.  By the time we got home, we were digging Big C’s shirts out of the dirty laundry bag, because she’d exhausted all of her extra clean clothes, her previously dirty clothes, as well as Big C’s extra clean clothes (there was a certain big brother who was NOT thrilled about sharing, but you’re never too young to learn what it means to “take one for the team.”)  

My poor, sweet girl.

Somehow during this whole debacle, I did something terrible to a muscle in my back.  CragDaddy hypothesized that it happened when I got my foot stuck in the seat belt while making a dive into the backseat, bucket in hand, in an attempt to catch a particularly projective-esque episode that had woken poor Z from a seemingly sound sleep.  

After a puke-free Sunday night and Monday, we thought she was in the clear, but Tuesday featured a reprise that, although milder, still made for a rough day.  Today, however – she woke up ravenous and has been eating all day and keeping everything down, so maybe NOW we’re in the clear?  For her at least…

Meanwhile, in between chiropractor visits, vitamin I, yoga stretches, and massages from the CragDaddy, my back has been slowly but surely loosening up.  I climbed on it yesterday, and it didn’t bother me at all – right now it just hurts if I’m standing up for prolonged periods.  I may not be at my best, but I’m optimistic I can at least bring SOME try hard to the Tuck Fest Deep Water Solo competition this Friday night (!!!)  That is, provided I’m not sidelined with my own barf bucket in the event my darling daughter decided to share her germs despite all my best efforts at disinfecting and quarantining.  So far so good, but it’s too soon to say…wish me luck!  

Share