Time to Fast || R2V6 #3

For some reason I never posted this. But I kinda like it. So here it is:

OK OK OK OK. I’ll talk about the session at Smith Rock yesterday. I don’t want to talk about it because it involves rope climbing, but I’ll talk about it anyway.

Basically what happened was this: a crew of five of us went down to Redmond, Oregon ostensibly to climb at Smith. The first day though people went skiing. Adi and I didn’t ski but rather hung out with her friend who lives in Bend and played with her dogs. Which was the correct decision. I haven’t skied in 22 years, and so I need to plot my return to glory carefully. Also it would’ve cost $150. So yeah, not skiing was the right decision.

Then YESTERDAY we went to Smith. But first we stopped at Junction Coffee in Redmond. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend this place. The coffee is delicious. The décor is tasteful. And when we were there they had soothing French music playing. I got an oat milk latte and it was sublime. If I wasn’t fasting today I might go back there. Though probably not because I’m sure Bend has great coffee too. Does Bend have good coffee? I have no idea.

The main thing you need to know about Smith Rock is that it’s BEAUTIFUL. Beautiful in an, “Oh my god this place is idyllic I wonder what it looked like before the influence of humans there were probably animals and shit way.” Beautiful in a, “Damn this kind of like a mini Yosemite” way. Beautiful in like a, “God I hate rope climbing literally the only thing you do is bake at the bottom of the cliff and yell at each other” way.  It must be said though that my body was not feeling in tip top shape, so I didn’t try any remotely hard climbs. Had I tried harder climbs, had I LED, I might’ve been more stoked on the climbing. But my body just didn’t feel good, hence the reason I’m fasting right now.

OK so that was Smith. Then afterward I went to the Meadow Camp Boulders for the first time and tried to climb Centrifuge V2 and Zithromax V2. I got shut down on both. I think they’re both fairly stout V2’s. Zithromax seemed kinda sick. I figured out some beta for the start and could probably huck to a good hold up on the arete but wanted to do it static. The landing was not good. I had one tri-panel pad that was basically folded in half on a rock. I’m debating going back there tomorrow for round two, and I’ll probably hike there today from the LOGE, where I’m staying, to check out the rest of the area. The best thing to do on a rest day is check out new blocs.

ANYWAY, as I mentioned before I’m also fasting. The goal for this fast is 72 hours, which is a big goal. I just passed the 16 hour mark, which is actually no small feat. Fasting is all about mindset. If you have it in your head you’re DEFINITELY GOING TO FAST UNTIL YOU WITHER, you’ll fast for a long time. But if you think, Ohhhhh, I’ll just see how it goes. Maybe I’ll do 24 hours, maybe I’ll do 36, then you’ll probably do 16 and go straight to Chipotle and drown yourself in a burrito (which is actually what I did yesterday for my last meal and it was delicious).

So yeah, the goal for the rest of the time in Bend is to fast. The plan right now is to stay till Wednesday morning, still fasting, and then drive back to Seattle, still fasting, and then break the fast at 17:33 on Wednesday. If this happens, it will be my longest fast ever by a day. Mostly I’m stoked right now to get to the 20 hour mark, because that’s apparently when a lot of detoxing happens. I got some detox tea yesterday from Safeway and so far today am actually DOING things. One trap you can fall into when fasting is just laying around all day watching the minutes tick by.

But anyway. Bouldering. Tomorrow. Tomorrow maybe I’ll go to Bar Fly V6, or maybe Blood Knuckle V5, or maybe I’ll just say screw it and go back to Zithromax and throw myself at it and not send it and start crying.

 

Bend to Seattle Driving Directions

I leave the LOGE, everyone’s favorite hipster motel, at around 8:00am. I’ve now been fasting for over 60 hours. At 72 hours, I can break the fast. I’ve put a lot of thought into what I’ll break my fast with. So far the frontrunner is grass-fed bougie yogurt by Alexandra, which I plan to purchase at Whole Foods on the way to my boat. Other candidates include bone broth, sardines and a coconut smoothie.

The girl at the reception gives me coffee despite saying that it’s only for guests “who’d been promised it.”

I was promised no such thing, I tell her, but she gives it to me for free anyway.

I’m now on the road, making my way through Bend to Highway 97, drinking said coffee. There isn’t much traffic.  A little bit heading north to Redmond, but that soon peters out. After Madras and a stop to refuel at the Plateau Travel Plaza, a place I’ll now go to for all my gasoline needs since they allow self-service in Oregon (!), it peters out completely. It’s just me and the open road and a Subaru who seems hellbent on passing me. Heckbent. I pull over to check some boulders, but realize their access is blocked by a gate because they’re on private land. How many amazing boulder problems will never get climbed because they’re owned by some guy named Cleatus in Central Oregon who’d rather shoot you full of buckshot than let you climb his fantasy blocs? Probably not that many, actually. But some.

I like transitions when driving. I imagine we all do. Which is why it pleases me when the ponderosa pines and the sage brush give way to evergreens as we climb into the foothills of Mount Hood. Then it’s all evergreens, and it’s wet, and pretty soon it’s snowing. A black BMW is tailgating me and eventually passes me in a lane covered with slush and pebbles, their tires slinging slush at the Subee. I flip them off. Damn right I flip them off. Why not? They’re driving like an asshole, and I want them to know it.

In Sandy, Oregon, I stop at Safeway hoping they’ll have the FitAid Zero recovery drink, which has only five calories and I’ve decided is OK for my fast, but they don’t. In fact, they don’t stock any FitAid products. Instead I buy some kind of Evian drink with zinc and magnesium, and also some Smart Water, and go out in the parking lot and sit in my car. In about a half hour I’ll be in Washington. As far as any weather goes, the hardest part of the trip is behind me. But the only interesting part of the trip is also behind me, too. Driving the I-5 corridor up from Portland to Seattle is about the most boring drive on the planet, especially when you’ve done it many times. To top it off, the Subee doesn’t do well at high speeds. She hates them. The Subee was happy back when the speed limit was 55, because then she could go 59 and feel like a badass. But she doesn’t like I-5. Going 67 feels SORT OF OK, but anything above that and she gets nervous. Couple that with the fact that I feel a bit delirious from the fast and the coffee and I’m not exactly looking forward to the second half of the trip. But c’est la vie, or asi es la vida, or so ist das Leben or however you’d like to say it. For now the only thing that matters is that I’m sitting in a parking lot in Sandy, Oregon, and life is pretty good. I’m in the process of doing my longest fast ever. My body feels supremely not inflamed, though it must be said that the recent back exercises I’ve started doing have me feeling a bit weird. But whatever.

I stop at a rest stop somewhere on the I-5 corridor about a half hour north of Portland to do a little walking around and possibly my back exercises. There’s a dude with an old Subaru with a bunch of shit in it and a cardboard sign that says something like, “Homeless. Anything helps,” and I think, Dude, you’re not homeless. You have a car. I do a couple laps around the rest stop. Rest stops are such a weird environment. Everyone is transiting. No one really talks to each other.  Most people don’t stay for more than a few minutes. I guess the truckers stay for a long time sometimes. The truckers sleep. The truckers sit in their trucks watching YouTube videos. The truckers sit in their trucks reading Proust.

My body starts feeling gnarly right around Centralia. My back feels gnarly. I need to get out of this fucking car. I love the Subee but mother of god get me out of here. In about four hours I can finally eat, but I have a sudden urge to do some climbing on the way home, and also to hang out with someone. I want to see what it’s like to hang out with someone after not having eaten for three days. I call Matt and ask him if he wants to climb at SBP. He says he’s there “working” and just come get him when I get there. When I get there we sit and talk about climbing and his living situation for a bit, and then we make our way downstairs to do some easy climbs. My body feels gnarly, but it also feels kinda good. I feel kinda free. I don’t feel strong, exactly, but I feel kinda free. I have abs. There’s nothing like starving yourself for a few days to get abs. I can’t wait to get home and pee on a keto strip to see just how deeply I’m in ketosis. Thing’s gonna be purple AF. I climb fairly easy, not trying anything harder than a purple, and down climbing rather than falling. And when things get too hard I bail and down climb, rather than push myself to where I might take a fall. My back will thank me. My back is thanking me.

Finally, after a stop at Whole Foods on the way home from climbing, it’s time to eat. I do my back exercises one more time and then it’s 5:33pm and now I can do whatever I want. The world’s my oyster, and it’s shucked and sitting right in front of me with lemon and a nice mignonette. Except in my case the oyster is a vat of premium yogurt, which I tuck into. Or at least try to tuck into. It doesn’t taste that good. It’s disappointing. And my body is actually screaming for something else, so I reach for the sardines.

 

 

Sagebrush and Juniper

I’m standing in front of the supplements in Whole Foods in Bend, Oregon trying to find a certain kind of turmeric. It’s apparently liquid soluble and thus more “bioavailable,” and it must be said that when I took it before my digestive system felt better than ever, though that could’ve been because I was supplementing magnesium or any number of other factors. In the end I don’t find it and thus leave with only two wares: a hop tea by Hop Lark, and a Zevia black tea blood orange flavor. Neither of these have any calories, which is ideal. I can’t have calories. I’m fasting.

I traverse the parking lot to the Costco section where I parked. This is Bend, Oregon, known as an outdoor paradise, but I’m in a Costco parking lot, which is decidedly less paradisiacal. My plan when I get in the car, though, after drinking one of the beverages, is to drive east. I don’t know where I want to go, just not here, somewhere without cars, where the only things are dirt, sagebrush and juniper trees. I want to hear the sound of the wind on the high desert, to not be surrounded by cars and buildings and people. This will prove more difficult than I imagined.

I head east on Neff Road and pretty soon things are how I wanted. It’s just me and a road. No traffic behind or in front of me, and the houses are gone now, given way to ranches, and pretty soon these are sparse, too. With the help of Google Maps I make my way to where I think there should be some trails to hike up to some cliff-looking formations where there might be boulders, too. But every time I think I’m getting close the road either becomes a dead end or a private road or simply impassable. Every damn parcel of land out here is owned by someone. Every sage bush, every juniper tree, has a human owner, and the ones I see in the distance on the butte next to the cliff, though presumably free of any owner, are blocked by private land. There are no trails, only roads that turn into driveways adorned with hostile “Private. No trespassing signs.”

Private driveway.

Dead end.

No trespassing.

The butte looms in front of me like a dream and that’s all it will ever be for me, since access looks impossible. I briefly contemplate just driving down one of the private driveways but imagine some guy in a cowboy hat toting a gun sauntering off his porch to point it at me. I don’t feel welcome out here. I’m sure the people are welcoming once you get to know them but if you’re just driving around in your ’97 Subaru looking for a place to look at some damn rocks it certainly doesn’t feel welcoming.

Finally I give up and turn around and start driving towards Bend. After a few minutes I stop to pee and there’s a dead coyote lying near the road, flies buzzing around it, its fur the same color as the brown grass, soon to be fertilizer for the brown grass. I thought it might be silent here but above me power lines crackle and every 30 seconds or so a car comes screaming by. When I finally get back on the road I’m immediately tailgated by a man in a Jeep who’s so close I can see individual stubble clusters on his face. Eventually the degenerate passes me, and I’m free again for a short while. I have the road (sort of) to myself. As we get closer to Bend, though, the traffic becomes thicker, and pretty soon I’m back at the strip mall that houses the Whole Foods where I was just looking at the supplements. I failed on my quest to go to the butte, but it still felt good to get out of the city for a bit, amongst the juniper and the sagebrush, even if I barely left my car.

Head Full of Rust

Waking up at Motel West in Bend, Oregon. I slept nine hours last night. I guess I was due. Now I’ve gotta figure out what I’m gonna do with my day. I’m gonna go to the Mountain Supply climbing shop on the off chance they’ll have a copy of Central Oregon Bouldering. I doubt they will.  I think the book’s out of print. Then I’m gonna go scope the bouldering at The Depot. There’s a V5 called Blood Knuckle I want to look at.

I’m staying another night in Bend at LOGE. I like this place even though it’s quite a bit more expensive than the budget places and also a bit pretentious. Mostly I like the location. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, almost right across the street from the Widgi Boulders. I might try Widgi Face V3 on this stayover in Bend. Or I might not. Mostly I just want to try the crux move and also see if there’s an alternative beta that involves a right arm lockoff.

K nevermind I just watched a video of Widgi Face and there’s definitely no way to do a lock off with the right hand on the hold where usually you have a high right foot before reaching to the crimp ledge. Damn.

Yesterday I drove to Bend from South Lake Tahoe. It was a long day. I stopped first in Carson City to get gas, then in Reno to go to the REI. At the REI I bought a pair of La Sportiva Solutions, so I can finally try them, and the book Beyond Tape, by Mike Gable. Then I drove to the Doyle Area Boulders, where I walked around in the hills for a bit looking for things to climb. If you’ve never been to Doyle (and I doubt you have), it’s kind of like the Joshua Tree of Northern California. Except way worse. Sure, there’s plenty of rad stuff to climb there, and there’s so much room for development, but I had it in my head it might even rival J-Tree, or be like a mini J-Tree, and it definitely doesn’t seem to be that.

After Doyle I drove to Susanville, where I went to the Grocery Outlet. And then I drove to Klamath Falls, where I got more gas. And then to Bend in the dark. When I got to Motel West there were strange noises coming from the room next door. I wasn’t stoked on it. Also, it’s fairly obvious people live here — they have their detritus ‘decorating’ the hallways’ — which lends a bit of a half-way house vibe to the place.

K time to go to Mountain Supply to see if they have that guidebook. And also get the hell out of Motel West. And maybe even get a matcha latte. And maybe do some work for Booking. And maybe go bouldering.

 

Already Seven Days In

Today is already day seven of my road trip with my friend Darren to the Southwest. We’re in Bishop, California. There’s a cat sitting on the table next to me and it’s only 6:45am and I wish I’d slept longer but I couldn’t. I don’t know what’s wrong with me this trip. I went to bed at 11pm last night and this morning woke up at 5am. I need rest so my body can recover and I can boulder hard. And yet I wake up early and lie there and don’t feel that tired and after an hour or so of lying there think, Well, I might as well get up.

We spent the first night in Bend. I wanted to climb a V3 called Widgi Face I was convinced I was going to be able to climb, but got shut down for the third straight time. Well, I shouldn’t say shut down. I got shut down in that I didn’t climb the boulder, but made progress, and you can never really call it getting shut down when you make progress. The crux is getting a high right foot and then rocking your way over onto that foot while holding a tiny crimp with your right hand, and then reaching up with your left to a thin crimp ledge. Last time I was there I had trouble even getting to the tiny crimp, let alone holding onto it. And this time that was easy, and getting the high right foot was fairly easy, and rocking some weight over onto it and point my knee to the sky made all the difference. Also, just actually trying made all the difference. Like, sometimes you just have to say to yourself, I’m going to do whatever I can to get up this boulder. Screw technique, screw the beta I think I knew was right — just try to get up it. And so that’s what I did, and made some progress.

One of my goals for this trip was climbing V5 but I’m wondering if I need to reevaluate that. I wonder if my goals to just climb hard numbers are holding me back at all, preventing me from having fun and from becoming a better climber. Though maybe the goals can coexist with the less tangible stuff, too.

Our second and third nights were spent in the town of Likely, California. Not really a town, actually. More a group of a few houses and some ranches and a general store. It’s about a half hour south of the town of Alturas, which is more of a town. Alturas supposedly has about 2,000 people. We went to a Basque restaurant where when you sit down they bring over a caraffe of wine, some semi-questionable bread and chicken noodle soup. We both ordered steaks because we were in cow country. I told Darren, “There’s no way this meal is gonna cost more than 20 bucks. People would never pay more than that here.” Turns out Darren’s cost $32 and mine $27. Who are these rich cowboys.

The fourth and fifth nights were spent in South Lake Tahoe, where I finally bouldered for the second time. I met a guy named Jay at Sport Ltd in South Lake Tahoe and he lent me some guidebooks and then it turned out he was actually in the guidebooks. He was one of the developers of the area. We went to the Zephyr Boulders the next day and promptly got semi-wrecked by some V0’s. There was a fairly fun arete called Home Wrecker, but not the greatest warmup for someone with a wrenched shoulder. Then there was a tricky V0 called (I think) Chalkaholic, another arete at the Red Hut Boulder that was tricky until we figured out you could grab both aretes, and then we went over to a V2 called Ooh La La.

And Ooh La La was amazing.

But not V2 in a million years.

But still amazing.

But more like V0 climbing.

And now we’re in Bishop and there’s this guy at the table next to me in the common area where I am and all he does is talk and talk and talk. He’s pro gun and yesterday he was talking about how when he goes on business trips he leaves a loaded gun on his nightstand so his kids can defend the house. This was right about when I got up and exited the room, despite the fact that I had a cat on my lap and was loathe to disturb the cat. There’s something very comforting about watching a cat sleep.

Today I’m going to (I think) climb at The Sads, and the only reason I say “I think” is because my body doesn’t feel great and I didn’t sleep that well last night. God, why is it only 7:07am. I should probably do some work. I should probably not drink coffee, but I’m tempted to drink coffee. I should probably have some kind of sustenance because drinking tea on an empty stomach makes my stomach feel gnarly.

If we do go to The Sads I’m going to try French Press V6, and probably get shut down. They say you should always believe in yourself and be optimistic, but I think there’s a place for realism too.