Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Road Trip Pre-TR

Busy, busy, busy...I have photos to edit, catalog, email, and post for the Goddesses on the Rocks event I talked about here.

So, instead of making an all-inclusive "here's what happened" report, I'm breaking it down into segments.

The plan was to Amtrak to Boston, where my friend Cheryl would pick me up. We'd stay the night at her place(a very nice little arts& crafts-y bungalow she's got, though I'm not sure if technically it's a bungalow. But I love built-ins and simple, beautiful wood trim, and the place had the original in place.). The next morning, we'd pick up person #3 from he airport, head to a campsite near North Conway, and get in a day of climbing on Friday.

Then, the Goddesses event for the weekend. And, as you may recall, I had no plan as to my transportation back....but obviously, it has worked out, and I am back home, being bombarded with the anxieties and troubles of city-living in the age of advanced technology. yesterday, my AOL service was FUBAR - that should be in 96-point type, by the way - yesterday. SO messed up that I spent more than 6 hours in attempts to diagnose/repair, with less than 15 minutes of that involving human tech support(an epic unto itself, but luckily I saw the route would not go early on, and bailed before committing past the first few moves..... GRRRR).

The train ride - This was stylee mass transport, in my book. I had a few options. Take the Acela, which is supposedly that ultrafast ride.... But at twice the cost, with only a half an hour shaved off in transit time, I felt it was a rip-off, and declined. Maybe there is something I missed that makes it worthwhile....I couldn't say.

They also offered an upgrade from coach class to business on Amtrak. Now, I consider myself a luxe dirtbag, so I automatically rejected the "upgrade" without even checking the price.

Locally, I'm used to taking Metro North to the Gunks, with my dog. I get the stink-eye if I take a seat(they're for 2-leggeds only, apparently) and so I ride in the open section for baggage and bikes, using my cooler for a seat, with Teddy curled around me somewhere nearby. simply having a SEAT is an upgrade for me, so I didn't think I'd mind the coach class train ride.

Well - Let me tell you something! I don't know what business class Amtrak offers, but Coach service has butt width seats and leg room enough for the biggest touron venturing cross country. Plush, clean better than any airline seats, in my experience. I settled in comfortably, and the only distasteful item was that the guy across the aisle was yammering into his cel phone for he entire first hour of the trip. Funnily, his big, oft-repeated topic was how "so and so" suffered from narcissistic personality disorder....

Finally, he got off the phone, and soon after got off the train, and I was left to the quiet of my inner thoughts while I watched the northeast corridor glide past as the sun headed round the horizon.

The drive up next morning, from Boston to New Hampshire, was a highway cruise, but since it was my first trip in the area, I was very happy enjoying the changing scenery as we entered mountainous ranges. Very pretty land, and as we drove the smaller roads the next few days, I saw many wonderful old homes, barns and outbuildings. Another few weeks and the foliage color-shift will make such a trip one to relish.

We camped at Covered Bridge campsite in the White Mountain National Forest.. The campground seems nice, I think, though I don't know what other options are available in the area. It had large, quasi-secluded sites that were clean(in fact, it appears someone comes in with a rake in-between tenants), fresh, cold water that comes from a hand pump down the road(there's something to be said for manual labor in exchange for subsistence). Best of all - there are huge logs set across the roadways, at about 8 feet off ground level, thus stopping any RV or monster-tired truck in their tracks.

Apparently, we were pegged as undesirables from the get-go by the campsite host though... Within a few minutes of our choosing a site and unpacking, he drove up in his golf cart and told us to slow it down in our driving. When we returned from our climbing session in the early evening, a form-letter list of Rules to be Broken was tacked under an item on the picnic table. I'd tented on foliage, it seems, although what I'd actually staked my claim on was the same surface that covered the rest of the tent area(gravel). It did have a carpet of dried leaves, but I honestly wasn't anywhere near putting up on the forest dirt ground. Ahh well... I am not one to piss off the guy in charge of my accommodations. So, I quickly moved my tent.

We then set out to begin our evening meal, and as we were doing so, a car that happened to be the same make and model as ours came careening down the road(that means they were going a little faster than the posted fast-idle posted speed limit). As I saw them pass our site, I told the girls "Watch - we're going to get blamed for that one!"

Sure enough! The host came Barney-Fifing down the road in hot pursuit! Off course, he'd had to get off his chair, call his wife/deputy and into the golf cart beforehand, so it was a few minutes later that he screeched to a halt in front of our site.....

I called out an apology for my tent, but was cut off with an officious "I TOLD you not to drive so fast in here!"

Well! My site mates weren't having any bully bullying them around, and they let him have it! Cheryl EVEN pointed her finger at him while declaring "That wasn't us!"

Luckily, she deflected the situation by explaining the look-alike vehicle and adding something like "We get into enough trouble on our own without having someone else's trouble added!"

He laughed at that one and that was the last we saw of the sheriff while we were in his town....

Climbing - Cheryl took us to a lesser-known crag to climb that day, so as not to lessen our experience with the Goddesses event if we'd be going to Cathedral or Whitehorse Ledges the next few days. She chose a slab area called Lost Horizons, which was just a short ride away from our camp area.

The hike in was...vigorous. At least it was for me... The heat and humidity added a level of exertion, but nobody else in the group(we'd met up with some others of Cheryl's friends) suffered as I did.

I don't know what happened, but after a few minutes, I was having some difficulty in my hike. I had stupidly left my full rack in my pack, not wanting to leave it in the car, which was parked along a busy-enough roadway. I fell back to the rear, and later took a short rest. Continuing on, I felt overheated again in another few minutes and had to stop.

By that point, we were a few minutes away from the crag, and Cheryl(enduro-woman, as you'll see in the photos below) had already gotten there, dropped her pack and returned. She offered to take the rope I was carrying, and I gave no resistance.

I decided to take it easy for the rest of the approach, no matter that everyone else was moving more quickly. But then, a steep section came up, and I found myself feeling a little light-headed. I sat down on a log, thinking it would be a short rest and suddenly I was accosted with a full on attack of dizziness and nausea.

Wow! It was bad. I truly thought I was going to pass out and throw up. So, I put my head down between my knees and waited as wave after wave rolled through my body.

Not sure what was causing the thing, I came up with the idea that I must have had my first menopausal hot flash, and when I tried that excuse out on the others(most of whom had already been there/done that) they didn't buy it..... But, they were good-natured about me and my excuse for physical unfitness. It WAS, I will admit, "that time" of the month, and it was generally agreed upon that the humidity, the semi-stiff approach, my pack weight, and the iron loss probably was what did it. Kindly, the "maybe a few sit-ups once in a while" suggestion was not offered as a remedy for repeat occurrences....

So - I survived, though I didn't feel so great, and was careful to be safe once we began climbing. The crag is a slab that rises into routes that range from 5.4 to about 5.8(so far as I know). The trail at the base is simply a footpath where rock meats dirt, and the angle of the slope continues downward, so any trips or stumbles mean down you go, only to be stopped by the forest of trees.

We climbed about 5 routes, with everyone getting a shot on all if they desired. The easiest routes were simply walk-ups, where no real route-finding is required other than the obvious(Go upwards). But the first bolts were up there, and then there were some run-out sections.

I chose to lead a route that was purported to be 5.6, a grade I'd stand by. And that first 25 feet of slab definitely did keep me on my toes(well, actually not, for I pasted as much rubber as I could get). The thought of coming off, and the awareness that the fall wasn't simply to the cliffside trail but onward and into the woods.... made for a sporty feel.

The first bolt passed and I breathed my relief sigh and continued onward. I don't recall feeling any worry about runout on the route, and the climbing was not too difficult(I lead Gunks 5.5). But the anchor! Oh my.....

I have heard of suspect anchors, but this one was definitely a runner for the title of Miss Manky Anchor. Not bolted, by the way. It consisted of a natural bridge-like bit of rock, with a shallow tunnel under it. The width of the bridge was maybe 8 inches or so, but the rock quality was pure, disintegrating as you watch, choss. It had the consistency of sandcastle material with some pebbles added for texture.

At any rate, the climbing was fun; I do like slab. And the route did require some skill in finding the best path, plus it had two crux-y spots(the first before the first bolt).

Still - I nicknamed this crag the "Green Acres Crag." It seemed every route had something....."off" about it. My lead was the awful anchor. There was a route that appeared to have a HUGE run out with groundfall potential from 60 feet up. It was an illusion....The missing bolt was actually in situ. It just happened to be several feet off the natural course of the route.

Another line had anchors placed at a point where a 60-meter rope meant the belayer had to climb 15 feet off deck(easy 5th class moves) to gain the belay stance. It WAS a nice little dish, although the space was tight for leader/belayer to start out on. Nowhere to anchor the belayer, so the leader had best not come off....

And it seemed that someone had made some effort to clear the slabby face of years of lichen. Except the clear spots tended to be in between where the bolts were placed! The routes tended to go straight through grainy lichen patches, making the routes feel as if peppered with a little local spice.

At any rate, it was a fun day, out climbing with a group of women in a quiet setting. We saw no other people while we were there.

As we drove back to camp, Cheryl stopped just after passing through the campground's namesake covered bridge. She wanted to show us what she called a Party Trick. Now, before you peruse the pictures, I should mention that earlier in the day we had been talking about training regimes (Of which, I volunteered I had none).

Cheryl, on the other hand..... did tell us that one of her endurance exercises includes doing repetitions of pull-ups to exhaustion. The thing is to do 5 pull-ups in a minute, and repeat each minute until incapable. So, you do 5 and then have the "rest" of the minute to rest.... Next mintue, same thing. starts out with lots of rest time, which lessens as the reps build up.

Cheryl does this for.....45 minutes.

....I know.

So - the party trick consists of climbing, hand over hand, up this iron guyline, and then exiting through the pretty window on the bridge.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

She did it in one shot, taking probably about 10 seconds, fully locked off the entire way.

What a sicko!

ADENDUM: 9/14 - I just remembered.... When I climbed with this hardwoamn the first time, it was in JTree on April of this year. She had told me that the day before she and some other chicks had gone to the legendary Gunsmoke to do some bouldering.....

She, having never been there before, and being newish to rock climbing, looked at the traverse(from the overhanging end) and....seeing no feet.... had one of the others boost her to the holds. And she proceeded to CAMPUS the traverse fully to the corner. Clean. Onsite.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to subscribe through RSS, you can click the FeedBurner Badge here. Thanks for your support!  Subscribe in a reader

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: