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Thursday, October 14, 2010

SMITH ROCK CLIMBING

(This beautiful river wraps around this beautiful park)

Like I said in one of my earlier posts, the last time Pete and I came here we ran around Smith. How O' so very exciting it was to come here and explore all that Smith has to offer...well at least a bit of it (it's a big place).

We departed North Vancouver at 4:30pm on Thursday. A minute after we let our place, Peter was having some doubts about whether or not he had packed his guide books. Eager to get there, we took the risk and kept going. The driving was smooth, minimal traffic on the way to the border which had no line-up. First stop, Edaleen dairy for a chocolate/vanilla swirl soft serve cone. This dairy farm is legendary and is a must stop for anyone who goes through the truck crossing.

We continued on and around 7pm we stopped at a gas station to (1) do the obvious and (2) use a microwave to heat up some turkey curry I had made the night before. The attendant for some reason was a little hesitant to let me use it but it said right on the microwave "for paying customers only" - we baught gas...is that not enough! Anywho, we quickly got to chatting and after we told him what we were up to he went into a story about his life. Basically, he broke his neck in a bad biking (motor) accident and for the time being was quadripolegic. He spent 2 whole months in rehabilitation at the hospital. They didnt think he would ever walk again. But, miraculously, here he was, walking like normal with a just a few scars to prove it. It really made me think again about how lucky I am to be alive, healthy and able to enjoy all the facets of life.

My landlord yesterday actually commented on how "we just don't stop". Pete and I really do try to make the most of our time. With that said, when we relax, we relax hard, which usually involves renting a DVD series of entourage (or other) while eating pizza and drinking beer. Good times.

Alright, back to the adventure. After contemplating a pit stop at a motel 6 for the night, Peter decided to just keep on driving. We arrived in Smith Rock at 2:00am. We fell asleep pretty quick and awoke to clear blue skies. Wow, what a perfect day for a day of climbing. We ate breakast and packed our bags and it was then that Peter realized he had in fact left the guide books (which he had been studying all week) behind! He has been here 7 or 8 times before so it's not like he didnt know where to go. The first day we got in about 6 climbs. Seems like a small amount but it takes a while to make them all happen. The heat of the day made climbing really challenging and at around 4pm we headed back to the camp site. When we were here 2 years ago the skulls hallow campground was free. They have since added a fee but at $5 a day, it's pretty minimal. Any extra cars are $3. We were expecting some friends to arrive that day but we never saw any. The forecast was looking bleek when we looked mid-week so we thought maybe they chose to stay home. We finished off the night with a plate of fajitas (staple camping food) and decided to forgo the campfire and went to bed.

Saturday turned out to be a drizzly day. I wanted to get a run in and ran the 7.9 miles from our campsite to the Smith Rock parking lot. Peter had been leap frogging the entire time in his car and I finally met him with his radio blaring in he parking lot. However, when he went to start his car, the battery had died. Uh oh, good thing there were sad climbers constantly leaving the drizly crag that wanted to give us a boost! Peter had heard about some caves in Bend, OR that would be dry and fun to climb. I had never seen anything like it!





The volcanic rock was pretty sharp on my tender little fingers and after playing arounf for a bit I watched Pete climb. Bouldering is not my strength but it is something I am working on!



We came back to the campsite around 3pm and saw that our friends Ross and Nicole and had been by. At this point the rain had stopped and the sky was opening up again. We decided to go hit the crag for a couple hours of climbing before it got dark. Once we hit the parking lot we ran into our friends and the 4 of us climbed together. We still managed to get in 3 or 4 climbs, which made us feel satisfied about the day. There were a few runners in the park and I was only momentarily wishing I was one of them. But, I came here to climb and that's what we did! That night was great. The 4 of us went back, ate dinner, and lounged around a warm and cozy campfire for a few hours. The wine was flowing because at $6 a bottle (same bottle is $13 in Canada) you feel bad if you don't! We inquired about the other couple who were suppose to be here with us (along with new baby and dog) and we found out they had a little fire in their basement suite. We were very sad to hear the news but it seemed as though they were well taken care of my friends back home.

Sunday was an equally amazing day, however, I felt a little hung over from the bottle of wine. The sun was shining and the crag was full of people. The heat of the sun only seemed to intensify the hang over. However, after a few hours and some banana bread to saturate up the alcohol, I had forgotten all about it!

Before I started climbing, I really had no idea the popularity of the sport. It truly is amazing. Even crazier is that in Smith Rock, the routes were all developed by people who had some serious balls! The first bolts for many of the routes (to secure the rope to) are well above the ground. I don't just mean like a jump up and reach but quite a few climbing moves high. Fortunetly, my boyfriend has 'mad skillz' and it doesnt seem to phaze him that much. Me on the other hand, I would be shakin' in my booties! It was this day that I found my first nemesis- Modern Zombie (10d). After ascending the climb with a few breaks I was determined to send it all in one go. I must have tried 5 times before finally succombing to the rock gods.

I find I get frustrated very easily when I climb. I can get down on myself because I am not picking it up as fast as I think I should. Peter makes things look so easy and I often have to remind myself that he has been doing it for 18 years and he SHOULD be better than me, he should have better technique than me. I am always being taught the lesson of 'patience'. Slowly I am learning that I am not always going to be able to walk up to a climb and just 'know' how to climb it. Sometimes, it takes 1, 2, or 3+ times to learn a sequence.

(A view of one of the most classic climbs in Smith Rock, The Monkey Face...Can you see it?)

The night finished off again with a campfire and dinner. I passed out pretty early this night which was perfect because we woke up super early monday morning. We wanted to get in a couple of climbs before heading back home. Again, blue skies surrounded us and because we were up and at em' so early, we were the first car to the parking lot. We literally had the crag to ourselves. We smashed off 2 climbs and headed back to the car and started our long drive home.


(Peter at Mesa Verde on our last day in Smith)

The trip was amazing. The climbing was world class, the company of our friends Ross and Nicole (who we are still getting to know) was fabulous, and Peter and I got to spend some quality time together doing something we love- adventuring, pushing (my) limits, and exploring. I can't wait to go back. This weekend and next I get the house all to myself because Pete is off on another climbing trip in Red Rocks.

I am running Around the Lake Giv'r Take 30km this Saturday. I have not been running all that much in the last 2 weeks but I'll call it a taper and leave the race up to the running gods. I've let go of the fact that I am not in as good a shape as I was last year when I ran this and if I don't get the same time, it will all be ok!

See you in the trails.

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