“Please” aka Green Tea | Road to Recovery

Today was a red-letter day in my recovery. Why was it a red-letter day? Because today I figured out a plan to get me back to bouldering, or at least back in the direction of bouldering, and today I completed the first step of that plan, i.e. I drove out to the Reiter Foothills, parked my car, put my climbing shoes in my backpack, and walked halfway up to the boulders.

I didn’t climb, of course.

Actually one of the reasons I didn’t climb is because there was a ruby-throated tanager (I have no idea if this was the actual bird) at the trailhead that seemed to be chirping some sort of warning signal. It was as if the bird was saying, “Mark! Mark! Don’t climb Warm-Up Slab V0 without a pad! You’ll fall! You’ll fall!”

Indeed, that was sort of the plan, if I made it up to the boulders, to climb Warm-Up Slab V0, just to get my hands on the damn granodiorite. But I haven’t climbed in awhile, and the granite can be slippery, and with my knee how it is it wouldn’t take much to make the injury worse — much worse. So I held off. I hiked halfway up to the boulders in the glorious sun, and at the summit (aka summit for me), I started formulating a plan:

Step 1) Hike halfway up to the boulders.

Step 2) Hike all the way up to the boulders

Step 3) Hike halfway up to the boulders with pad on back.

Step 4) Hike ALL the way up to the boulders with pad on back.

Step 5) Hike up to boulders using semi-sketchy trail from main gate.

Etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Etc.

So today I completed step 1, which felt like a fucking triumph, and it also felt like a triumph because I was bathed in sun for most of the hike, the vitamin D coursing through my belly, licking my neurons, and it just felt good to get out, even if getting out meant driving through Monroe, quite possibly my least favorite city in Washington.

On the way back I suffered a slight slip, buying some caffeinated beverages from Trader Joe’s. Oh no! A week of caffeine cleanse and now I’m back on the wagon. Aka off the wagon. Aka last night I had some GT’s Adaptogenic Tea and had trouble getting to sleep. And today I’m having green tea. Black tar heroin could be next.

Speaking of things you inject, I also decided on the hike that I’m probably going to order some BPC-157 peptides on the internet and inject them directly into my knee. This healing process is just going too slow. I mean, I walked out of a bouldering area (see: hiked) with a pad on my back FIFTEEN MINUTES AFTER ORIGINALLY HURTING MYSELF. And now three weeks later I’m seeing hiking with a pad on my back as some kind of achievement? It’s insanely frustrating. I mean, there has been improvement, but it’s at a banana slug’s pace. I’m not used to being injured like this. I’m not used to forgetting what it feels like to crush. I’m not used to not bouldering (except for the first 36 years of my life when I didn’t know what bouldering was or at the very least scorned it). I’m not used to this desperation, damnit!

So that’s why I might inject some shit into my knee.

The green tea I’m drinking tastes faintly of licorice root. The Yogi label says, “The world needs your unique gifts, don’t leave with them still inside you.” I like this saying, though it would’ve been a wicked opportunity to use a semi-colon properly, though I imagine semi-colons are a little too aggressive for a brand like Yogi. Stick to your periods and commas. And your burdock root. God, this tea is actually really good.

What’s on tap for this week? Tomorrow I have therapy at 10am, which I’m super hyped about. On Wednesday I have my appointment with sports medicine at Swedish and I’ll be damned if I don’t get some answers about my knee. Please, just tell me if you think it’s seriously injured, and if you think it’s seriously injured refer me for an MRI. If it’s not seriously injured, immediately start speaking to me in Spanish, because my brain will already be heading south in my ’97 Subaru towards Mexico, possibly with a stop in San Diego to get peptides.

Please, tell me what’s going on. Please help me.

Please.

 

 

Between the Burns | Road to V4+

IMG_4904

“People you’ve been before/that you don’t want around anymore.” — Elliott Smith

Yesterday while driving to Whole Foods I noticed I could see all the way to the Cascade Mountains. It was semi-dry in Seattle. I thought to myself, Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…I wonder if it’s dry in Gold Bar. If I can see all the way to the mountains it’s probably dry. At least sort of dry.

I started driving toward the mountains and almost immediately turned around to get my phone. I thought this little setback would break me. I thought I’d cozy up on my boat and never leave it. But then I was off again on the road with the snowy peaks in the distance and hope in my heart, headed for the Camp Serene Boulder and hopefully some burns on my now long-standing project, Serenity Now V4+++++++++++++++++++ (-).

I made a mandatory stop at Safeway in Monroe and bought the following: A Kind bar (sea salt caramel), smoked salmon, and a blackberry mint Guayaki. After this I was ACTUALLY on my way, still dry in Monroe, still dry in Sultan, STILL DRY IN STARTUP, STILL DRY IN GOLD BAR and…………………………………….mostly dry at the Camp Serene Boulder.

I parked and immediately noticed the wind was screaming. Common for this type of year, I’m learning. The wind whips through the Skykomish Valley like a peregrine falcon descending upon a naked mole rat. So I began my long warmup process. When the only thing climbable is a V4 and V4 is your absolute max, you need to figure out creative ways to warm up. So I did tons of jumping jacks. I ran back and forth to the car. I ran up the hillside a bit, turned around, and sauntered back down. I did more jumping jacks. I stretched. I did some hanging, partially loading my arms and shoulders and fingers and then fully loading my arms and shoulders and fingers. And then finally, once I felt sort of warmed up, I started doing some of the first moves. I was a bit worried about my finger after the slight pulley sprain the other day. But I taped it up tight in an “X” pattern and hoped for the best.

I fell in love again with the first moves on this boulder. Straight arms on the starting ledge. Daintily place your left foot on the shelf out left. Bring your right foot up to the small edge. Reach up to the jug crimp left. Cross your right foot over to the thin but good ledge. Flag your left foot out. Deadpoint up to the far right jug crimp. Smear your left foot, right foot up on the ledge, switch the feet quickly, and dive into the corner. I’ve done these moves so many times. I honestly think I might be able to do them with my eyes closed. But then I get to the crux and everything sort of shuts down. Except lately I’ve been making micro progress. Or actually probably macro progress.

While I was resting between burns two girls showed up. They’d seen me driving by and figured they’d check out the boulder. Their names were McKenna and Karen, and we immediately started working Serenity Now a bit together, and then moved over to Insanity Later V2, which was wet but not unclimbable. I sent it after a few tries and then Karen got to the top but didn’t want to top out with the wetness and the general precariousness of being up that high. Then we chilled by Serenity Now again, and they busted out snacks, which instantly made them two of my favorite people on the planet.

I figured I’d give Serenity Now a couple more burns before having to head back to Seattle, and I got closer to getting past the crux than I’ve ever gotten on that boulder. “I want to see you send it,” Karen said. After the first burn the rain whipped into the valley and the second burn suffered. It started pouring pretty much instantly and we hightailed it out of there.

The moral of the story is this: A day I thought was going to be unclimbable turned out to be one of the most fun days I’ve had in awhile. I made progress on my project. I met some new friends. And the best part is the forecast said “rain” all week, and now I’m realizing that all you need is a dry morning, or a dry afternoon, and you can probably sneak a little climbing in.

Which is totally rad.

– Wetz

Top 7 Bouldering Moments of 2020

1. First Time Bouldering Outside

Start holds = Gene’s retinas

I had never bouldered outside before lockdown hit. I had no desire to boulder outside. All I wanted to do was watch Bouldering Bobat videos and try to send a blue at Seattle Bouldering Project. That was pretty much my singular goal in life. But then the lockdown hit and I had to either A) not climb, B) climb outside, or C) move to Libya. I chose option B and never looked back. I started on an abandoned building on Bainbridge Island. I moved to a glacial erratic just north of Poulsbo, WA. And then I got the Western Washington Bouldering Guide, which changed everything. I’ll never forget my first session at the Morpheus Boulders. My first V0…

2. First of the Grade

It’s rare to find a boulder that speaks to you. It’s rarer to find a boulder that A) isn’t so easy that you can send it on the first session or first couple sessions, but B) not so hard that you just want to give up.

U2 (V3), in Leavenworth’s Beach Forest area, was the perfect boulder for me. I projected it over the course of a couple months, usually giving it a few burns on each of my bi-weekly Leavenworth trips. One day after I had started getting close I woke up at 430am near Skykomish, sent it straight to Leavy, got an americano from Starbucks, by 630am was at the boulder. That day it went down. I thought it was totally going to go, and then after the first few attempts I felt myself getting weaker, and then finally I went for the lip.

3. Highball (ish???) slab

Making the move from “beginner” climbing shoes to the La Sportiva Miura’s I now sport was huge (I might move to the Solutions one day). My confidence in my feet went from about a 4/10 to about a 7/10. Which is huge when you’re trying a semi-highball slab where the crux move is towards the top and you’re afraid you’re going to fall off to the side where there isn’t a pad or just go skittering down to the pad below you. On this climb I actually did skitter a few times, pretty much from the top, and that gave me confidence that it wasn’t that bad. And then I sent.

4. Pre-covid SBP sessions w/ Homies

Picture this: You project hard (see: easy) blocs with your best homies, and then afterwords you go to the basement cafe, shoot the shit, and drink beers (see: you drink kombucha). This is what gym bouldering pre-COVID was like. Then COVID hit. Now gym bouldering = wearing masks and using liquid chalk. And then gyms getting closed every two weeks because COVID numbers soar into the stratosphere. Which means we can’t soar into the stratosphere on techy purples or reachy blues. Damnit.

5. After work Upper Walls sessions

For awhile there I was working in U-Village for a non-profit, just really doing God’s work, and after work the bus would go right by Upper Walls in Fremont, and usually I would get off and climb for a bit. These after work sessions were my favorite: short, sweet, and most importantly: alone. I mean, not completely alone. I would sometimes talk to other people. Sometimes I would project stuff with random heroes. It was during this time that I sent my first blue, a stemmy thing in the corner that at Joshua tree would MAYBE be a V1. Probably a V0. But indoors it’s a V5. I love stemming.

6. Projecting

(Summer Solstice V3. Didn’t post to YouTube ‘cuz I filmed it so shitty.)

Projecting is my favorite aspect of bouldering. Going to a problem that feels impossible, leaving it alone, thinking about the moves and the micro beta as you lie in bed, trying it a couple weeks later, then a month later, and then finally sending it. This happened with a couple boulders for me: My first V3 slab, Rocksteadeasy, U2 V3, Summer Solstice V3, Briefs V3 (which went first try of the day a couple days ago!), Beam Me Up V2, and will HOPEFULLY be happening (any day now, seriously; gotta get this pulley thing figured out) with Dirty Dancing V4, Toto V4, Serenity Now V4+, Moss Bongo V3, the list goes on….

The most important thing I’ve learned about projecting: You don’t learn how to climb a boulder by trying it over and over again. You learn by trying over and over again and then leaving it, for a day or a week or a month, and coming back stronger and with a new plan.

7. Sorange V3

A Red Rock Canyon gem, and the first V3 I ever sent in one session. Basically I got there, a bunch of people were on it, I walked the loop through the canyon, came back, tried a problem near it, and as soon as the new people who were there left I swooped like a vulture descending upon a recently-deceased wildebeest. But NOT before asking one of the leaving dudes, “Bro, can you give me the beta. Like literally tell me every move.”

This problem is kinda crimpy and the last move is kinda reachy. It’s also kinda easy. Or maybe I was just really feeling it that day.

 

Weaker, Stronger and Weaker Again | Road to V4

The scent at Ketron V4, Happy Boulders, Bishop.

The middle joint on my right middle finger is wrecked. My left shoulder is semi-wrecked. I feel weak. I couldn’t send Summer Solstice V3 yesterday despite (sort of) cruising it four days ago.

My body needs a rest.

And yet, I was climbing almost every day on the road trip. How did my body deal with that?

Well, I wasn’t pushing myself too hard. I attempted ONE (1) V4 in Bishop, nothing harder than a V2 in J-Tree, ONE (1) V3 in Red Rocks, and ONE (1 [1.00]) V4/5 (see: Hyperglide on the Monkey Bars Boulder). Oh, and The Pearl V5, though I didn’t really go for broke on that one.

Contrast that with the last few days: Attempted one V3 four days ago (Summer Solstice), went for broke on a V4 in Leavenworth (Toto. Almost sent it. Got to the lip. Got to the lip and didn’t send. Dear God) two days ago. Then went for broke on a V3 yesterday (Regatta de Blanc traverse variation, which I sent for the first time), again for broke on Midnight Lichen V4, and then AGAIN for broke on Summer Solstice at the end of that session despite already feeling discomfort in my shoulder and middle finger.

So I need a rest.

Today, rest day one:

Fingers feel slightly swollen after walk to Whole Foods and back. Right middle finger feels especially tender. Shoulder doesn’t feel THAT bad, which heartens me greatly. Doesn’t feel as bad as it did a couple months ago after climbing, when even things like reaching up to open and close the hatch on my boat felt like a bit of a nuisance. So THAT’S great.

Tomorrow: rest day two.

Monday: light training on the finger board (see: roof) of my boat. Aka body tension training. Aka basically grabbing onto the lip of the hatch of my boat and then walking my feet up and down the bottom of the mast (the wood covered part that extends through the cabin into the keel below) while focusing on quiet feet and straight arms.

Tuesday: rest day number four

Wednesday: Climb again, weather permitting.

That’s the plan for now. Even though not being able to send Summer Solstice V3 again yesterday was discouraging, I was super stoked on sending the V3 variation of Regatta de Blanc for the first time (I’d tried it several times in the past), and also stoked to make a little progress on the first move of Midnight Lichen V4, which continues to plague me. That hand bump. But I think once you get that hand bump the left hand to the lip move is easier, and from there I have confidence I’d be able to top it out. So many V4’s that are so close to going! Midnight Lichen, Serenity Now, Toto, and even Cabin Stabbin’. One of them will go soon as long as I take care of my body. Which means today I’m going to have a salad, and not have any gluten (just to try it out), and I’m going to rest the shit out of my body. And try to sleep well. And watch the Chelsea game. And read a book about healing your inner child which makes me profoundly depressed. But it’s like also kind of a dope book.

Party.

– Wetz?

The Dark Days of Winter | Road to V4

Sit start match the little horn jug thing, right foot turned inward on the good foothold, left foot smeared. Swing right hand over to the sloper rail. Switch feet, delicately. Now, bring your left hand also to the rail. Be careful to keep your left foot on at all times. If it cuts loose you’ll swing down the slope and probably fall off. With the left foot pasted onto the foothold your right foot started on, start working your hands down the rail right until you get to a good flat ledge just before the jug. Now, get ready to cut loose, because you’re going to (“Hold on….hold on to yourself….This is gonna hurt like hell….). It’s OK, though, you’ll have at least one hand on the jug, and you can swing all day and not fall off. Go for it. Swing a bit and when you’ve regained yourself look for a good edge for your right foot down and to your right. Once your right foot is there (delicately!), swing your left foot up to the rail (DELICATELY, GODDAMNIT. WHAT DID I JUST SAY TO YOU). Now you’re ready to look off for the shark’s tooth (if you’ve never seen a shark’s tooth teleport to the 90’s and hang out with a 13-year-old kid who wears hemp necklaces). OK, ready, set, lock off. Grab the shark’s tooth with your left hand, pull yourself up, and either go straight for the finishing jug with your right or go to the mini jug beneath it and then bump up to the finishing jug. You are in control of your own destiny. You are a boulderer, so comport yourself as such. Once your right hand is on the finishing jug, bring your left hand up for a Swiss topout, hang there for a second watching the rest of your life flash before your eyes, marriage, kids, retirement, daeth, and then let yourself drop to a pad you’ve (hopefully) placed below. This problem can be done with one pad (my pad is big), as long as you’re willing to move the pad to the right away from the starting moves. The good news is that for the crux of the problem your knees are literally about six inches above the ground. Which, if you’re an insect, is a hell of a long way to fall, but your terminal velocity is also lower so you’ll be fine.

Good. Now, if you’ll just tell me what problem I’ve described, I’ll reward you with a prize. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not V4.

– Wetz

From Sandstone to Granite | The Road to V4 with your host Mark Wetzler

The ground at Salt Point State Park, California.

I am back in Seattle, back on the boat, back to freezing my ass off at night even though the heater I have right now is approximately 70 times better than last year’s. It has a thermostat, it oscillates, and it looks somewhat chic, too.

I’m going bouldering today out by Gold Bar. The weather for the next six days looks uncommonly glorious, and I plan to take advantage. I also plan to take advantage of the fact that I’ve been climbing more than normal over the past two weeks, and that I feel stronger than usual (maybe not stronger than ever. I still don’t feel like dynos would be a great idea but they don’t sound like a completely terrible idea, either. My climbing right now is probably on par with what it was back before my shoulder injury, though now hopefully with better technique and footwork).

I can’t leave for a few hours this morning due to various engagements. In about an hour I’ll go over to my sister’s to pick up my plants, and then I have a video appointment at 10am. Which means I’ll LEAVE For the boulders at around 11am. First stop? I’m not really sure. The goal for today is to send Serenity Now V4+. But I also want to climb up in the clearcut, and that could interfere with my first goal. The reason I want to climb up in the clearcut is because there are more boulders up there, I want the hike, and I also want to continue projecting Cabin Stabbin’ V4, Summer Solstice V3, and maybe even suss out the moves on No Chaser V5. There are also so many other “hard” boulders I could start trying, like: Stinkin’ Slopers V5, Midnight Lichen V4, Samurai V5, Fern Crack V3, Water V6, and Obesity V7. I am very much into the idea of trying boulders right now that are way “beyond” my ability. Because sometimes on these boulders you can do a move, or two moves, and you feel awesome about yourself and visualize yourself one day sending it. This is how it was in Red Rocks the other day with Hyperglide V4/5. I could do the beginning moves. I could get to the beginning of the face climb. And I could almost do the hard move on the face climb. Which gave me tremendous confidence, even though I didn’t really come that close to sending it. Now, for instance, if I go to Stinkin’ Slopers V5, I think there’s a very good chance I’ll at least be ABLE to do the sit start. Maybe even the first couple moves. Which means I can start projecting it. Which means I’ll be projecting V5.

Aka projecting V16.

Aka I’m back in Seattle and it’s so fucking cold and I might need to leave here soon.

Aka I need to shave.

Aka I have a slight mullet.

Aka Joshua Tree.

Aka Stem Gem V4.

Aka failing on V0-‘s.

Aka the nicest AirBnb I’ve ever stayed in in my life.

Aka once it starts raining I might need to bust out the hangboard.

Aka this black tea is making me nauseous.

OK, just had some carrots so I’m OK. Moderation is the name of the game right now, folks. Also, doing the crux on Serenity Now V4+ is the name of the game. I’ve gotten to the crux so many times. And I just kind of stand there, paralyzed. Which is why today I’m going to try a couple new things: straighten my left arm and lean out over the right-hand sidepush thing. Force myself to get my left foot up, and then right foot up even if it pushes me off the wall. Lean into the wall to the point where I’m literally lying on it. I feel like any of these three things could be critical, though mostly the first one, letting my left arm go straight and leaning more over my right hand, possibly while letting my right leg dangle.

Enough talk for now. Time to take action. It is officially 65 degrees in my boat right now. I’m wearing a bikini. I’m contemplating jumping in the lake to cool off. I’m also contemplating drinking a yerba mate right now. From Trader Joe’s.

Aka I’m going to do that.

19 Days | Cali Road Trip #5 Road to V7 #6,234

Planet X, Joshua Tree.

I’m in a hotel room in Ashland, Oregon. It’s freezing outside. Thirty degrees, to be exact. I just walked to Safeway where I bought a big thing of Tejava tea, a Kind bar, and a FocusAid. I’m watching the Chelsea v. Tottenham game and SORT OF waiting to see if Christian Pulisic will come on, but I also think I just need to leave soon. I’m debating whether or not to go to Bend today, mostly just to try a V3. The thing is, I WANT to try this V3, it’s an epic problem and I think I can send it, but I also really don’t want to do the drive from Bend to Seattle. I don’t like that drive. I don’t know why. But today I’d rather do the drive from Ashland to the Portland area, or Ashland to Centralia, or Ashland all the way home to Seattle. I’m a little bit reticent about getting back to Seattle. Reticent about the cold, dark days. Reticent about being on the boat. Reticent about being in gloomy Seattle when the climbing gyms aren’t even open.

Four days ago I sent a V3 in Red Rocks called “Sorange.” Yesterday I sent a V3- and a V3 at a boulder called “Byron’s Boulder” near Mt. Shasta. I don’t think either of the problems yesterday were V3. One of them, Pulley Pulling, was probably a V2, and the other problem, “Byron’s Backside,” was probably a V2 too, though maybe a V1. Byron’s Backside was a sloper problem, and I don’t think it was too much harder than Fountain Blues, in Leavenworth, which is a V0 (the best V0 in the universe).

The reason I’m mentioning these problems I’ve recently sent is because it’s possible that right now I feel stronger than ever. This is because I’ve been climbing A LOT lately, and so the question is: how have I been able to climb so much without injuring myself or further aggravating previous injuries?

And then answer, I think might be, diet. I’ve been hanging out with Carolyn lately due to our road trip, and she eats approximately 6,000 times better than me. She east a LOT more vegetables than me, and she also never goes crazy on the sugar. Could these two things be it? Is the solution merely eating sugar in MODERATION and also getting more vegetables? I dare say this could be it, or could be a massive step in the right direction. I like feeling strong. I want to keep feeling this way. And maybe it means I need to make some massive changes to my diet.

After Tahoe I went to the Bay Area where Carolyn and I bouldered at Salt Point State Park. Then we went to Joshua Tree where we experienced some of the most magnificent bouldering I’ve ever seen, albeit with the hardest grades I’ve ever seen. And from there to Red Rock Canyon outside Vegas. Oh, and I kinda went to Bishop, too. I went to Bishop, camped two nights, almost froze to death, and climbed some beautiful, juggy, overhanging blocs.

I still haven’t sent V4.

But I’m getting damn close.

J-Tree, Bishop, and Red Rocks will be subjects for other posts. Especially J-Tree. I’ve never experienced a place like that.

For now, though, I’m going to watch this Chelsea game, drink my tea, and get ready to send it MAYBE to Bend, maybe just up north to Seattle. If you have a thought on the matter please post a comment immediately and try to influence me.

Anyway.

Talk soon.

-Wetz

The Drive to Tahoe | Cali Road Trip #3

The view from the illustrious Blackjack Inn, South Lake Tahoe, California.

8:17am in the Blackjack Inn in Tahoe and the heater is blessedly on but will turn off in just a few moments. My room is small but nice and clean. The mattress is firmer than the one at the hotel in Sacramento. I look out on a beautiful hillside covered in snow. And as much as I’m scared I’ll freeze to death camping tomorrow in Bishop, that’s still the plan. The plan is to go to the Pit Campground at Bishop and, provided there are campsites, set up shop. I mean I guess this is the plan. The high tomorrow in Bishop is supposed to be 61. Which is perfect. But the low? Twenty-four. I have a sleeping bag I think is rated to around 40 degrees, and then I have a down comforter, and then of course I can just layer some clothes. Sweatpants, wool socks. Sounds pretty fun, right?

The sun has finally come out in Tahoe. The high today is JUST over freezing. What am I going to do today? I have no idea. Probably walk to a coffee shop at some point. I’m drinking a Guayaki Blackberry Mint right now. The grocery store here, Raley’s, has an insane collection of every weird beverage I like. They have all the low-calorie Guayaki options, including the 5 calorie powerhouse Lima Limon, which is (drumroll) unsweetened. They ALSO have every kind of Tejava variety you could imagine. They have the lemon variety, which until yesterday I didn’t know existed, and also an ORGANIC OOLONG VARIETY THAT OH MY GOD…I haven’t tried it but today could be the day. There’s so much to do around here. Is there anything to do around here? I could walk to the lake, walk into Nevada, maybe…go to some hot springs? Maybe….sit in my room all day and meditate? Maybe…sit in my room all day and mediate? Maybe…plan what’s coming next in my life after this road trip?

Highlights from yesterday include:

1) Buying a hat made in Canada that is 50% wool, 10% alpaca, and 40% other stuff.

2) Realizing the wool rim on the hat made my forehead itch, trying to return it, and getting shut down.

3) Getting to the chain control checkpoint just past Kyburz (what a cool name for a town), stressing that I’d have to turn around, buy chains, figure out how the hell to put them on, and then get back in line, but instead just getting waved through because I had a Subaru.

4) Finally getting into Tahoe and not having to drive in snow anymore.

5) Meeting a dude named Jake at the Rocklin Quarry Park and talking to him (the only in person conversation I’ve had on this trip longer than 30 seconds).

6) The beauty of the fresh snow near Tahoe adorning the trees and boulders.

7) Getting a grande peppermint mocha at Starbucks at like 6pm.

8) Walking to the Nevada state line, feeling a bit like I was entering the gates of hell.

9) Getting a guidebook to Bishop and gazing at all the beautiful problems that could become my first V4.

10) Walking to the lake and seeing the steam rise off it.

My mate is gone which has been me feeling a bit distressed. There’s a cafe called Free Bird that apparently serves mate but it’s three miles away and I don’t know if I’m down to walk that far. And I’m not going to drive because my car is currently frozen and the next time I get in my car will be to drive down to Bishop. I hope my surfboard is OK right now. I’m a little worried about it freezing and then thawing out. I’m just so glad the sun is out. And that I don’t have to drive back toward the pass tomorrow to go to Bishop, but rather into Nevada and then south. It’s probably time for me to put some clothes on and leave this hotel room. It’s probably time to get away from screens. It’s probably time to go for a walk and find even more mate.

 

Cold Jimmy Dean | Cali Road Trip #2

Bald Rock, CA.

8:35AM at the Fairfield by Marriott Sacramento Expo. The heat is on since the temperature in my room got into the low 60’s last night. I can hear my neighbors across the hallway constantly opening and closing their door. I think they were partying last night. At least they were across the hall, though. Their next door neighbors probably had it much worse.

I’m watching the Manchester City vs. Liverpool game and sort of waiting till 10am when REI opens to leave so I can get the Bishop Bouldering Select Guidebook. Then the plan is to go to the Rocklin Quarry Park, boulder for a bit there, and then drive to Tahoe. Two nights in Tahoe, and then on to Bishop. Part of me wishes I were just going to Bishop today. Bishop was the whole point of this trip in the first place, and I feel like I just keep putting it off. At the same time the more my body has to adjust before Bishop the better. I want to get there and at least SORT OF be able to climb. I want to at least sort of have calluses. I want to at least sort of be able to pull down.

I’m waiting till there’s a goal in this game before I allow myself to eat. I hope someone scores soon.

The granite at Bald Rock, California.

So far I have only successfully climbed three boulders on this trip. I’ve only attempted five. Which is a bit strange considering this is a “bouldering” trip. But I’ve held fast to my ideal of not forcing things. If I don’t feel like climbing I don’t, and if I don’t feel like trying a certain boulder I don’t. This means that a lot of the time I’ll get to a spot, find a V0 or a V1 I know I can do as a warm-up, then set my eyes on something hard (for me) in the V3-V5 range, and try a few moves on that. Usually if I can do just one move on a V4 I’m stoked, so the session usually ends with me pretty happy. The problem is I don’t know when I’ll be coming back to these spots, so I can’t exactly project the boulders, but that’s OK, too.

Another reason I wanted to take this trip was to get some sun. And I’ve gotten plenty of sun. So far I don’t miss being on my boat in the cold and the rain. When I go back to Seattle I have to be climbing everyday at SBP, or surfing every couple of days if I want to stay sane. Or I have to get a job. I can’t just chill on my boat.

8:56AM and I’m thinking I should pack up. The cold Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich was disgusting. Good thing it was cold though or I probably would’ve eaten the whole thing. The tea is good. The apple was good. I’m officially addicted to caffeine, and one tea is not going to be enough. I’ll need to make a stop on the way to Rocklin. I need some mate. I need something. I need to send a freaking V4. I need to get a job. I need to write more. I need to eat better. I need to figure out what I’m doing with my life.

Or something.

First Days of the Road Trip | Cali Road Trip #1

Near Madras, Oregon.

Checkout at Motel West in Bend, Oregon is at 11am today which means I only have about 15 minutes to write this post. Maybe less. I just went bouldering at the Widgi Creek area in Bend and while fun it threw in stark relief how amazing the bouldering in Washington is. Widgi Creek felt like one tiny area of the Icicle Canyon in Leavenworth, of which there are TONS of areas, and then in Leavenworth you don’t just have the Icicle but also have Tunwater and Mountain Home, too. Not to mention all the insanely good bouldering in the Skykomish Valley. Which reminds me: If I ever move away from Seattle (and I will), I only have one option: Go north. I can move to Leavenworth, Squamish, Victoria or Vancouver. These are literally the only options. But I am not allowed to move south. Which means I can never move to Bend. Which is fine.

My body was hurting after the drive yesterday. Too many hours sitting. And today I’m probably going to do it all over again because the goal is to make it to Colusa, California. But first I need to go to REI. I need to go to REI here in Bend because a) I love REI (I drive a Subaru, for Christ’s sake) and b) They might sell surfboard ding repair stuff (though they probably don’t). They also just have so many treats at REI. I love browsing REI. They’ll probably have a copy of Central Oregon Bouldering so I can read about all the boulders in this area that I have no idea exist that will probably make me eat my words in paragraph one. And then after REI I’ll get on the 97 headed south, first to Klamath Falls, and then on to California. I need to beat this cold front.

Breakfast.

Why Colusa, you ask? Well, it’s a sleepy town on the Sacramento River. It won’t be as cold there as in other places. And most importantly it has good lodging at a reasonable price. This trip might become a surf trip pretty soon. I’m not sure. I realized today that bouldering is hard. It took every fiber or strength in my body to climb a V1. So maybe I’ll just go to the coast. Maybe I won’t even make it to Bishop. Who knows.

For now though I need to make sure I’ve gotten all of my stuff out of room 241 at the illustrious Motel West. Luckily most of the stuff is still in my car. Then check out. Then go to REI. Then hit the road.