Wednesday, February 16, 2005

First Climbing Trip(cont.)

I had the best day in a long time, that first day out at Delaware Water Gap. After we got our introductory information, Joe went up to set the top rope anchors. When he got back and said "Who's first?" I waited about 3 seconds for someone else to raise their hands. Of COURSE I wanted to GO! But I didn't want to be an ass. Still, I gave a fair chance and when no one else seemed ready for action, I was like "Uh...I want to go."

There were 2 climbs set up for us, and the were like 5.2 and 5.3. But who cared? It felt so cool. Much different than being on a gym wall. The rockface felt like a living entity, and I felt like I was crawling into Mother Nature's lap. I was amazed at all the options for holds. It was like EVERYTHING was saying "touch me!"

I remember getting to one point, about 2/3 to the top, and looking at the hold options. There were so many choices, that I decided to think about which one I preferred to use, instead of yarding on the first thing my hand landed on. I felt around, and as I passed my hand over an edge in the rock, my hand folded around this made-to-fit undercling. It was like finding a secret entryway.....

I had already taken about 50 pictures of everyone, and told them I'd shoot them as they climbed. I asked one of the girls if she wouldn't mind taking photos of me while I climbed and was so excited to see what she'd captured. I was a bit pissed, but also hurt, when I got back down and asked if she thought she'd gotten anything worth keeping, and she flipped "oh, I forgot...." and handed back my camera. Throughout the day, she forgot each time I went up those climbs. It wasn't until the end of the day that I'd realized she had done it intentionally, for some bizarre and catty reason. Bitch.

It was still a good day. I tried not to be a hog on the climbs, and I also offered to belay a good deal. After all, I knew it was important I get practiced. At days end I asked how many times people had gone up. I was surprised that most had done 4, 5 and 6 climbs. I had only done 3.
For the first time in my life, I was pissed at myself for being self-sacrificing. It's a character flaw I've always had, but had taken a dysfunctional pride in. That day, I saw it in an uglier light. I told myself that the next day, I would still be careful not to take more than my share, but damned if I was going to take less.

That night we got back to the AMC camp lodge and were hanging out when someone excitedly yelled out "A Bear!!" Yep, there was one. The first time I'd ever seen a bear that wasn't at a zoo.

Everyone ran out to get a look, me included. People started following the thing with their cameras, edging for a close-up! I started to see that this might get...well, you know. And apparently the camp dog also realized he had a bunch of tourons to protect, because he started an attempt to run off the bear. Here's a picture of the dog, taken later that night:

Anyway - I am a dog handler, and I was afraid for the dog. So I commanded him, loudly, to stop. I was relieved when he did, because he was gaining on that bear. I said "Get back here." And, again luckily, he obeyed. But the people kept trying to follow that bear..... I rememebr having the thought that "If that bear charges, I am going to shut this cabin door and lock it." And then realizing how stupid that was, as if a bear would knock before barging in.....

Anyway, the bear sauntered off, nobody was hurt, and when the guides came over later on everyone was very excited to talk about the bear.

Joe asked how big it was and I said "HUGE! It was like the size of Gentle Ben!" And he started laughing uncontrollably. I didn't know what was so damned funny. But later, all the other camp people laughed when Joe recounted my sizing up a little Brown Bear as a Grizzly.....

That night, the camp cooks made a really delicious lasagna dinner, and later a bunch of local college profs came and jammed for us. They played folk music from the 70's and it brought back so many memories. I was moved to tears. People thought I was a fool....

Anyway, here is a picture of the guys playing.

This guy was also the camp cook.

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