The Road to V7 (part 1)

Yesterday I went on a bouldering mission on the Olympic Peninsula. This was by far my most successful boulder exploration mission so far. I found 5-10 legitimately climbable boulders, which was basically 5-10 more than I’d ever found before. They were all close to the Hamma Hamma river, the turnoff for which is a bit past the town of Brinnon. This is where the Lena Lake trailhead is, to give you a bit of reference.

Today though I’m here to talk about this summer’s goal: climbing V7. This is a massive goal, considering I just started climbing this last winter and also because the hardest thing I’ve ever climbed indoors is V4. Most people would probably read that last sentence and assume there’s no way I could send V7 by the end of this summer. And they may very well be right. Indeed, the hardest thing I’ve climbed outdoors is about V1. So clearly I have a ways to go. But what could be more fun than giving yourself a challenge that might just be impossible? Something that would be so cool to do, however improbable. For me it will be all about: climbing a shit ton, getting stronger, developing better technique, having fun, and finding the perfect boulder for me. Preferably something with a dyno. If the moons align, I might just pull it off.

The first thing I’m doing for “training” is 1) eating better, and 2) my first mini “workout.” I say “workout” because it’s only two exercises: 1) hanging from a 2×6 in my parents’ garage, and 2) doing leg lifts while hanging from a cherry tree branch in their front yard. Hopefully my hangboard from Seattle Bouldering Project will come soon. Then I can keep hanging, but while practicing a variety of holds. And the most important thing of all, of course, will be just climbing. Which is a bit difficult when you work 9-5 and all the gyms are closed.

But that’s also a really shitty excuse. There are always things to climb and always ways to train. Just eating better is a form of training. I was eating pretty well before this whole lockdown thing. But since I’ve been at my parents’ house I’ve ballooned up, mostly because I’ve been exercising less, and eating more and worse. Lots of cookies. Even pop. Ice cream, all that crap. People say to me sometimes, “You should just enjoy it. It’s all in your head. Just enjoy life.”

My answer is “no” (despite the fact that some of those were statements).

No, no, no.

I’m not going to eat the cookies or the ice cream. I’m not going to drink the pop. I’m going to get strong as fuck so I can send V7. Eating cookies does not help me along that road. It makes me feel like shit. Yes, it’s ok in moderation, but I don’t do moderation. I can’t eat just one Milano cookie. I have to have like five. So yeah: No.

Anyway, short term goal: Climb V2 next time I climb outdoors. Then climb V3. Then start projecting some V5’s. Then start THINKING about V7. Maybe go to some V7’s in the area and just look at them. Touch the rock. Feel the holds. Maybe try some of the moves. Why the hell not?

Because I’m going to do it. Unless I get laid off tomorrow and just sail to South America and kind of forget about bouldering and start surfing again, I’m going to do it.

And even if I don’t it will still be pretty awesome to try.

The Same Path

The thing about the human experience is that the amount of “acceptable”
ways to live your life are so few. And among those few ways to live your life,
there is very little variance. It would not be “acceptable,” for instance,
to pack all your things today and move to a deserted island. Your family would
not accept it, most of your friends would not accept it, society would not accept it
at large. It would not be acceptable to decide you want to live the rest
of your life in your bedroom. It would not be acceptable to decide you want
to move a remote village in Western China, have a garden, and tend to it.
It would not be acceptable, as a 36 year old who’s generally had fairly
mainstream interests, to decide you want to devote the rest of your life
to playing “World of Warcraft.” It would not be acceptable to decide you never
want to work again and to become voluntarily homeless. Or to move to a nudist colony,
or a hippy commune, or to live with a group of people who don’t use any tool
invented after the stone age (these groups of people exist).

So as long as you pick something that’s not too much of a departure from
the norm, you’re OK. Once you pick a path that’s “acceptable” (dentist, doctor, lawyer,
mechanic, accountant, baseball player, cafe owner, carpenter, contractor,
taxi driver, municipality worker, teacher, administrative assistant, etc) you then have
a LITTLE wiggle room when it comes to being yourself, but not much. Indeed,
things that are slightly eccentric (like being really into the Japanese animation “manga”)
are celebrated as “quirky” or “fun” even if people don’t REALLY understand
or identify with them. But things that are WAY off the beaten path, that people
don’t understand at all (devoting your entire life to Joe DiMaggio’s left thumb fingernail
or recreational coughing) are just considered weird and therefore shunned.
In other words, be creative, but not TOO creative. Go off the rails a bit,
but don’t fly away.

It then follows that to produce something that is truly revolutionary, one of a kind, you MUST lead a life that is different from what’s “accepted,” and your interests MUST be so far off the beaten path that no one but you and maybe a select other few appreciate/understand.
Trust me, when someone asks you what your passion is, and you tell them and they kind of tilt their heads to the side, or make some polite excuse to leave shortly after you’ve explained it, that’s a GOOD thing. You don’t want people to understand why you love what you love. If you’re at a dinner party and JOE DICK comes up to you and asks what you do in your work and
what you do in your free time, and more importantly “WHY?” (though he would never ask that), and he can IDENTIFY with your answer, you’re in for a world of hurt. Or a world of banality, which is essentially the same thing. But if JOE DICK comes up to you and asks
what you do for fun and you say, “I’m obsessed with studying the thickness of various bread loaf slices,” and he kind of laughs and makes a quick retreat, you’ve won in a way you can’t even fathom.

99.8% of people spend their lives living other people’s lives. In a way, it’s in our nature.
We don’t want to stray too far from the pack. But we’re not a herd of wildebeest.
We’re not a troop of Macaks (sp?), despite our genetic resemblance. Beavers build dams because it’s genetically coded into them to produce iteration after iteration, dam after dam, for their entire lives. But we have the extraordinary ability to learn new things,
to forge paths that are ancestors never went down. To be revolutionary in our acts and our thoughts.

And so why do so many people insist on going down the same path?

I’ve Always Had a Passion for Hockey

Canada produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other G20 country, new report says

Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party – Robin Williams

The world needs more Canada – Barack Obama

I’ve always had a passion for hockey – Sidney Crosby

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
― Terence McKenna

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Wayne Douglas Gretzky CC is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach.

 

Greta

– Cuánto hace que tocas el piano, me susurra.

Se acurruca a mi lado. Huele a basura.

– Hace cinco años que mi papá vendió mi caballo. Se llamaba Greta. No sé si aun vive.

– ¿Quién es Greta?

– Era mi caballo.

– Era una puta.

 

Supalonely

Well, I’m obsessed with a new song. This doesn’t happen very often for me anymore. I used to get obsessed with songs ALL THE TIME. All the time. Something Good by Alt-J. Down with the Trumpets by Rizzle Kicks. The Hardest Way to Make An Easy Living by The Streets. I don’t know why I can only think of English artists right now. I recently went through a Kid Francescoli phase. Boom Boom. Blow Up. Prince Vince. My Kid Francescoli obsession came after a night of mushrooms on the boat in which I became convinced I absolutely HAD to get a tattoo and literally ran into Ballard across the locks to look for a tattoo parlor but then got sidetracked by wanting to get ice cream at Salt and Straw.

Minor digression.

The song that I’m obsessed with now is Supalonely by Benee. I would’ve never guessed from listening to her that she’s from New Zealand. Or that she’s 20. How does someone who’s 20 bust out a major artistic achievement? I don’t get it.  I always assume that you have to pay your dues to do something artistically great, and I assume someone who’s 20 can’t have paid her dues. But maybe I’m projecting.

Let’s see.

Supalonely.

I went to my boat to pressure wash it yesterday. So that was an accomplishment. And I actually slept on the boat yesterday. It was like a little mini-vacation. Yesterday I also thought about how last summer I used to make a list everyday of five things I’m grateful for. And I never do that anymore. And I know from experience that it actually helps bring contentment, because instead of focusing on all the shit you don’t have you focus on the shit you do have.

Terence Mckenna: Don’t consume. Don’t believe.

Our fetish for material objects is ruining the planet.

  1. My boat

I live on a fucking boat. My backyard is a lake. I can untie my boat and sail anywhere in the world. How cool is that?

2. Black tea

It’s the main form of me getting caffeine right now. And I like caffeine.

3. My car

I bought my white Subaru for $2200 almost two years ago and she’s still going strong.

4. Spring

I can’t believe how long the days are getting.

5. Supalonely

It’s so nice to get obsessed with a new song.

Of course I’m thankful for so many other things. These are just a few of the first that came to mind. I’m thankful for pressure washers, for bouldering, for the sun, for vitamin D pills, for electric kettles, for mouses instead of touchpads, for duct tape, for seagulls, for herons, for sea lions, for seals, for the Puget Sound, for the Salish Sea, for the San Juans, for waves.

I’m also thankful for comfortable beds. And for sleep. And for winding down.

Which is what I’m going to do now.

Misadventures at the Zelda Boulders

OK, let’s be honest: Today was fruitful. Anytime you find yourself at McDonald’s in Sultan, WA, by yourself, at 7pm, eating a pair of “double doubles” and a caramel iced coffee, your day has been pretty fruitful. Such was the situation for me today. I went into Seattle with the intention of 1) pressure washing my boat, and 2) bouldering. Unfortunately, I only accomplished one of the tasks. Today was officially the first time I’ve ever been “skunked” bouldering. And by “skunked” I mean going to a place where you know boulders exist and then, for whatever reason (see: rain, geographical mishaps), not climbing. I went to four bouldering spots today. I climbed at zero of them. But then, of course, the trip to McDonald’s at the end made it all worth it.

Allow me to regress. Allow me to progress. To digress. To — I think that’s all the -ress words I know. The first stop were the Reiter Foothills. Pulling up to them I thought, “Sick, I’m definitely about to climb. I’m probably gonna send V2. I might even send V3.” And then: This area closed due to COVID-19. Fuck. So I continue. I go to Index and then backtrack to the “Mine” boulders. Except they’re not accessible anymore because someone just bought that land and now the access is private. Goodbye, 40 or so super fun climbs with more potential for development. Why do we have private land. Bouldering areas should be public, always. Someone should consult Chief Seattle on this.

Area number three: The Galena Major boulders. Supposedly you drive 5.2 miles from….oh shit I just realized the reason I didn’t find these boulders is because I calculated 5.2 miles from US-2 and Index! Damnit! I think you’re supposed to calculate starting at the Index bridge. Is that what I did? I can’t even remember now. Jesus. Either way I did NOT find the Galena Major boulders. I drove past some people who looked like they might’ve been heroine addicts/fishermen who looked at me like they would enjoy cutting up my body, and then before the road closed I turned around.

The last spot I went to were the Zelda boulders, located just outside of Index “downtown.” Though of course downtown is a little generous for a place like Index. There is a park. There is a school. There are dudes driving around in trucks who look like they like to hurt animals. And this time I actually found the boulders! What an achievement. Except they were…not dry. Also know as: not dry. Also known as: not dry. Either way it was great to see some of these famous boulder problems. I sat at the base of The Engineer (V9) for a few minutes, thinking how terrifying it would be and remarking how much bigger it was in real life. Then I went up to Midnite (also V9 but about 6,000 times less scary than The Engineer [perfect landing, not as high, not slab]) and, even though it was wet and I might never be able to do that boulder, just hung from the first hold for a bit.

And then I went home. Well, sort of home. Home right now is my parents’ house since I’m working remotely from there. But tonight I’m staying on the boat as a sort of “vacation” and also because I desperately need to clean it. I just went up to the v-berth and noticed some spicy black mold growing right up toward the bow. Which of course I quickly ignored. Out of sight, out of nostril. And now I’m sat at the fold-down table, typing a blog. Drinking black tea with kava and a bit of orange spice. And tomorrow back to the grind! Jesus, the grind.

Or maybe time to sail south?

Lockdown Love

This time of quarantine has led me to regularly committing some of the seven deadly sins, among them sloth and gluttony. Sloth in the form of basically never working out; my new idea of exercise is going to the field by my former high school, juggling a soccer ball 50 times, and calling it an afternoon. Gluttony comes in the form of buying a half gallon of yogurt and then demolishing it via repeated, semi-blacked out trips to the kitchen. But the yogurt is grass-fed.

In many ways I like the lockdown for the simplicity it brings. My days consist of work, of long walks, of watching Jeopardy! with my parents at 7:30pm, of thinking about what I’ll do when the lockdown is over, and the very occasional visit with a friend. The other day my best friend and went on a little tour of the Olympic Peninsula, albeit in separate cars for the driving portions, and (usually) six feet apart for the portions on foot. We spent a substantial chunk of time doing one of my favorite activities: looking out at the ocean waiting for waves. The ocean is one of those things you can look at for a long time and not get bored. On the contrary, your spirit seems to grow stronger the longer you look at it, as if the ocean itself were occupying the depths of your soul. Things like YouTube, on the other hand, have just the opposite effect. Thirty minutes of unstructured time on YouTube are 30 minutes you’ll never get back, 30 minutes in which your soul becomes more impoverished, 30 minutes that would be much better spent just staring at a wall. In fact, if you stared at a wall for 30 minutes I think you might learn more about yourself than by doing just about any other activity. It’s essentially meditation, after all.

Which reminds me of the time I went to a free transcendental meditation introductory class in Vancouver one time. The girl leading the class was drop-dead gorgeous. Her name was something like Meike and she was either from the Netherlands (OK actually I’m positive she was from the Netherlands) of something like half-Chinese half-Dutch descent and thus spoke Dutch, English, Mandarin, and probably something else tantalizing like Zulu, and I was hopelessly besotted in her presence, but also mystified by the fact that she appeared to believe in such garbage. In “official” transcendental meditation centers, which are peppered all over the world, you pay something ridiculous like $1000 to have a few hours with an expert who will give you your mantra, which you will then ostensibly use for the rest of your life to enter a meditative state and conquer the world (or at least yourself). One girl in my class said, “Why does it cost so much?” at which Meike MIGHT have blushed. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t. I’m pretty sure if there’s one question people slinging TM are prepared for, it’s that. Because it’s the only question anyone wants to ask when they’re faced with the prospect of paying a thousand dollars for a syllable.

Lockdown would be the perfect time to meditate. I am not meditating at all. Instead I’m playing video games, and drinking caffeinated beverages, and periodically going into my parents’ garage to hang from a 2×6 screwed into the wall. So far I’m up to just over 20 seconds. I read an article the other day in the NY Times that old people actually prefer the lockdown to normal life. And I can totally see where they’re coming from. I wouldn’t like lockdown forever, but a longstanding dream of mine has been to be marooned on a deserted island. And this is sort of like that. Marooned in a house with my parents and Alex Trebek and his insistence on pronouncing French phrases with the thickest accent possible. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: You don’t have to hate lockdown. You can, but there’s also the option of not being that bummed about it. Or even liking it. Or even loving it. And for now, I’m at least going to try to choose love.

Finger Strength

The end of a long week. Sitting on the couch watching bouldering videos and listening to the song “Loyal” by Odesza. Making black tea. Drinking said tea. Playing the game “Tomb Raider II,” starring the enigmatic Lara Croft. Making forays into the garage to do max hangs on a board screwed into the wall. So far on the two pad setting (which is, incidentally, the only setting, since it’s a 2×6), I can almost do 20 seconds. I know this is not a lot. I am not a strong climber. I am not a TERRIBLE climber, because I’m not super afraid of falling and am quite athletic, but I have next to zero climbing technique and also very little finger strength. I regularly fail on V3’s/V4’s in the gym. But it doesn’t matter. Because I love it. I love it and I have no plans to stop.

I pound a cup of black tea but it’s just not cutting it. I need more caffeine. The Friday afternoon doldrums have set in. It’s almost as if everything has lost its flavor. I’m bored of playing the piano, I’m bored of going on walks, I’m bored of playing video games, I’m bored of watching movies, I’m bored of seeing how long I can hang from a board in my garage. I want to do what I’ve done best all my life: Just get up and go. But since I CAN’T do that right now, I’ll just talk about what I hypothetically would do if I could.

What would I do right now if I could do anything, go anywhere, but of course taking into account current coronavirus closures, social distancing guidelines, the strength of the yen, etc.

First, I would go for a surf. It’s been a long time since I got in the water. Sunday is looking decent. Monday, too. So I’d do that. Then I’d come back, spend another week or so on Bainbridge, do one last big grocery run for my parents, and then get out of dodge. And by out of dodge I of course mean I would go to my boat. Where I would spend a few days cleaning it, making it less awful, etc. And then. And then. And then I would head for the mountains in my ’97 Subaru. Or I would go up to the San Juan’s in my boat. The stratosphere is the limit. And then I would head south, stopping at famous bouldering places on the way, until I got to southern California, where I would wait on the northern side of the Mexican border until they opened it and I could finally get across. More bouldering, more surfing. Speaking Spanish. Eating tacos. Some tacos. Smoking a few rollies even, maybe. I’m in Mexico!

Further and further south in my car? Maybe.

Or maybe not. At this point I would make my way back to Washington where I would star The Grand Adventure, aka sailing to South America in my 27 foot sailboat. First night, Port Townsend. Bounce around the San Juans for a bit. Maybe, MAYBE, stop in Victoria. Then round Cape Flattery and start heading south. Stop in La Push. Stop in Westport. Stop in Oregon, and then make the big push for Southern California. Bonfires on the beach, more surfing, and then back into Mexico. A couple weeks in Ensenada. Fixing things that have broken on the boat. Fitting it out for even more sailing, bluewater, bluewater baby, bluewater all the way, all the way to Puerto Vallarta and points further south, anchoring at La Calechosa to surf, anchoring by that little town across the bay and paddling over, that beautiful right point break, oh how she’s beautiful, further and further south, surfing La Ticla, surfing The Ranch, SKIPPING LA SALADITA, and further and futher south, and now we’re in Central America, and Costa Rica, and Panama, and maybe we just say to hell with it and go through the Canal. Into the Caribbean. And that’s it. Why would you need to go any further?

My First Real Boulder Problem (Car Door Traverse, V1)

Today I went on my first true outdoor bouldering mission. I went to the Morpheus boulders, just east of Index a few miles off Highway 2. I learned about this place from Pablo Zuleta’s Western Washington Bouldering, which I recently purchased for $39.99 off the wonderful site westernwashingtonbouldering.com. The good thing about being new to a sport is that you have no idea what to expect. I went into today’s mission with the idea of just looking at, and hopefully trying a few moves on, a problem called Piano Man (V5). When I was on the ferry over to Seattle my friend’s girlfriend said, “Climbing a V5 outdoors is like climbing a V7 in the gym.” I wasn’t sure if I should believe her. But if she was right then there was no way I was going to climb Piano Man, since the gnarliest thing I’ve ever sent in the gym was V5, and that was once, and only because I think they messed up the grade for that particular boulder. But I just wanted to LOOK at this problem more than anything. Feel the rock. Maybe see if I could do a move or two. I didn’t expect to actually send V5 today. In fact, my goal today was simply to send SOMETHING. Anything, really. Well, anything above V0, since V0 is essentially walking on flat ground.

My Piano Man plans were quickly thwarted by dudes with chainsaws working to remove trees blocking the road. I’d have to call an audible. I instead went to some different boulders, first accidentally bushwacking my way up to Kingslayer (V13) (apparently this place is “inspiring” but to me it was just terrifying), then down to Landjäger, which has a V5, a sick V9, and a V2 slab. And here’s what happened: I couldn’t even do the V2 slab. Maybe my friend’s girlfriend was right. V2 outdoors = V4? Suddently a slab that most people sprint up and is just warmup for the problems around the corner becomes a project for me? I’m afraid that’s what happens when you start bouldering when you’re 36.

So I decided to sit down and see if I could do any of Miller Lite (V5). Negative. I couldn’t even do the first move. I didn’t know what the first move was. I got home and watched some YouTube videos of people doing it, and the beta they did was much better. Right hand pinching just below the shelf, left hand on top, left hand out to a gaston, right heel hook up on the shelf, and then proceed up from there. Could I do this problem when I go back? Probably not. But it’s a project. It will hopefully be a project for me. One day I will do it.

At this point in the expedition I was a bit forlorn. Here like a jackass I had just spent $250 bucks on a big crashpad only to go out and not send a single problem. Sick. But then on the way back there was no one at the Car Door boulder, while on the way in there had been a couple there with their adorable golden retriever and I hadn’t wanted to bug them. I set up shop, and was immediately stoked because the landing at Car Door is PERFECT. Dirt. No rocks. Just flat dirt. I laid out my pad and just lounged on it for a bit. There was a little stream gurgling nearby. The air smelled thick and good. The sounds of the forest filled my ears and brought me joy. And it also looked like I was going to actually climb.

Of course, I was mystified by the guide book until I realized the main problems were on the other side of the boulder. And then I was stoked. There was a V1 called Car Door Traverse that had three stars in the guidebook. It was a gorgeous problem. Not contrived at all. If you walked up to this rock and thought, “Well Jesus, I gotta get to the top,” I dare say Car Door Traverse might be one of the lines you’d take. You start on the far right of about a three inch deep rail. The foot holds are few and far between. At first I didn’t see any footholds and just started a bit to the left where there actually were footholds, worked my way left, hands loving the rail, then up to some juicy jugs (one juicy jug), and then a jug pocket thing at the top, a very easy top, and voila, my first ever real boulder problem done. Not V5. Not even V2. V1. And I couldn’t be happier. The movement felt good, it’s a beautiful line, and it’s not super contrived. And my god, the landing. Can we talk about the landing again? It’s completely flat and dirt and just about the exact right size for a crash pad. Plus this is the kind of boulder you can climb with just one pad, something important when you’re climbing by yourself.

After one sort of send in which I didn’t start fully to the right and didn’t top out, I went back and found some satisfyingly small footholds that allowed me to start all the way on the right of the rail. This time I did top out. It was extremely satisfying. And so I guess you could say this second send was the proper send and my first real outdoor boulder problem. There was also a V3 but I couldn’t figure out where it started. Supposedly it was a sit start but I didn’t see any way to pull myself up, provided I was actually start on the right handholds. Who knows. Who really cares. All I know is that it was beautiful to be in nature, climbing such a beautiful boulder, being active, breathing air.

I walked back to the car remarking on how quickly my attitude had changed, and how glad I was that I had actually climbed something. Nwo when I go back I will hopefully: 1) make it to Piano Man to check it out, 2) make progress on Miller Lite V5 using the new beta, and 3) climb Car Door Traverse several more times, savoring the wonderful moves.

And also go to the boulders near Gold Bar, of course.

 

Misadventures of a Novice Boulderer (Part 1)

Imagine driving two hours into the woods, parking your car, getting your bouldering crashpad out, getting everything situated on your back, your backpack strapped to your chest, full of mirth and expectations about the day ahead of you, only to immediately realize you have no idea what you’re doing.

Welcome to the life of a 36-year-old novice boulderer.

My goal yesterday was to climb SOMETHING outside. I wasn’t too concerned about the grade. I was hoping it’d be higher than V0, since just walking on the sidewalk is technically V0, but I didn’t have any illusions about climbing V5 or, god forbid, something higher. No, my goal yesterday rather was just to get my fingers on the stone. To feel the cold hard rock against my skin. To smell the smells of the forest. To be out in it. To feel alive. And this is something I did accomplish, but only just barely.

I drove to the Morpheus Boulders, located between the quaint Washington hamlets of Index and Skykomish. I was in my ’97 Subaru Outback which, despite burning smells every time she runs, is hanging on for dear life. This is largely in thanks to my wily mechanic Al over at Hal’s Motor Clinic. The guy is a genius. Want something welded onto your car? Al will do it. Want something fixed the cheapest possible way, with complete transparency and no screwing around? Al is your man. He has a wonderful memory — but for cars, not people. I went in one day for like the fifth time and said, “Hey, Al!” and when I saw the blank look on his face said, “I’m Mark…”

“Oh, white Subaru!” he said.

Thanks to Al, the Sub-y is running better than ever, which is to say, not that well.

But anyway.

5 minutes into the trip: I spy my first boulder! The Car Door Boulder! For some reason I feel like I’m on safari and I’ve just spotted a wildebeest. I want to climb the thing but there’s already a couple camped at its base. They have a golden retriever. I pet it.

20 minutes into the trip: The Landjager Boulder! Oh, the glory! What a beautiful piece of rock. And right next to the river. But again, already being sessioned. By two dudes who look like they’re trying to figure out the conundrum that is Miller Lite (V5). I press on.

25 minutes into the trip: I don’t really know where I’m going. Another guy walks by and asks if I’m looking for the “log crossing.” I say “maybe.” We check out the log crossing together. He crosses, but I’m scared of falling into the river. I retreat.

1 hour into the trip: I find myself in the mythical “Throne Room,” home of Kingslayer (V13). I did not intend to come here. I look at the first sloper hold, and just want to hang from it and think about life. I would love to try some of the moves, aka the first move, but don’t feel like I have enough paddage and am scared of falling into the tunnel below it. Again, I retreat.

1 hour 15 into the trip: Back at Landjager. No one there. I try Miller Lite and fail miserably. I try the slab — only V2 — and fail miserably at that, too. Feel pretty discouraged and decide to check the Car Door Boulder one more time.

2 hours-ish into the trip: Back at the Car Door Boulder and suddenly all is right in the world. What a perfect landing. And there’s even a stream running next to it? I climb Car Door Traverse (V1) several times, savoring the meaty rail that, if it weren’t granodiorite, I might try to sink my teeth into. I lounge on my pad, just listening to the sounds of the forest. I try some of other climbs on the boulder. I top out. I accidentally crease the cover of my guide book and shake my fist at the sky. And then, eventually, I pack up and head to my car. In just a few minutes my entire outlook on outdoor bouldering has changed. Some things were reinforced for me that I kind of already knew. Find aesthetic climbs. Savor the moves. And do stuff you can actually climb.

For now the V5 will have to wait. Next stop, Reiter Hills? Next stop, V2???