365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

The Great Outdoors

If you’re not someone that loves being outside when it’s nice out (no matter the season) then you probably won’t appreciate this post very much… but you’re certainly welcome to read on.

The last few weeks I’ve been feeling kind of ‘blah’. I think it’s partially because I’ve been fighting a bit of a bug… maybe for the first time in about 10 years my spring time allergies are giving me a reminder that they exist…. maybe my body is just adjusting to not having a million things to do. Regardless of the reason I’ve just not really been feeling 100% like myself. This week I basically chilled at home most evenings. We didn’t have any weeknight softball (cause that season’s done). I bailed on climbing (with Squeak’s blessing) because I was just completely totally exhausted. I figured I needed a few days to rest.

Today Squeaks and I packed some lunches and jumped in the car to head out to Great Falls for a little Saturday climbing session. I was still pretty tired when I woke up but very much looking forward to the excursion. She picked me up just after 9am and we were set up and on some rock by about 11. With the rain last night and the threat of rain today we really weren’t sure what to expect. But we went anyway. Knowing that not only did we need to climb (the ultimate stress reliever) but we needed to climb OUTSIDE.

You see… there is a wonderful side effect of being outside for hours on end doing something that you love. No matter how wicked tired you are you just feel so totally energized. At least, that’s what happens to me every single time. I just absorb the beauty of my surroundings and I can’t help but smile. I’ve always felt this way about being outside. I’ve loved to play outdoor sports and be at the cottage in the water or in the hammock. I love to swim and hike and ski and snowshoe (winter hiking :)). If it’s a nice day my favorite place to be is outside. It just always makes me feel better – about everything.

I think that most people who have the same love of the outdoors as me feel something similar. It doesn’t matter if your dripping sweat of freezing your butt off… If there is sunshine and your outside in it, life is good. I know lots and lots of people who wouldn’t claim to be ‘outdoors’ people. But what they really seem to mean is that they’re not into all the activities that are stereotypically associated with “outdoorsy people”: Camping, Hiking, Swimming, Fishing, etc. When I see these people getting the same rush as I do from simply being out of the house I know they really are ‘outdoors’ people…. Maybe they just prefer to sit by the pool than climb a rock – that’s cool.

As I said, I’ve always loved the outdoors, but climbing has kind of elevated it to a new level for me. Honestly there is absolutely nothing better than being 30 or 40 feet up a rock wall and turning around to look over the wonderful views that perspective can give you. And in Great Falls, well it’s just freaking amazing. Blue skies, rushing water, gorgeous rock formations, Herons and King Fishers and other water birds… it’s so wonderfully peaceful that you can’t help but let it’s magic sweep over you and wash away the tiredness and stress of ‘real’ life.

Don’t get me wrong… after a few hours climbing in the heat I am PHYSICALLY exhausted. But I feel better today than I have in weeks. I know now more than I ever have that I need to find a way to make outdoor climbing more of a norm in my life. Given how late the sun stays up at this time of year (and how early it rises) there is really no reason we could not hit up Great Falls or Carderock for a quick weekday climb as well as a longer weekend session. Climbing outside is just so different from climbing in the gym. It’s definitely better – and I think better for you. The ACTIVITY of climbing is great no matter what… but nothing can beat being able to climb in some of the most beautiful areas of the world. I wish I’d actually followed up on the gift certificate I was given AGES ago for a birthday gift and tried climbing 5 or 6 years ago. I didn’t expect to love it the way that I do but I am sure glad that I found it.

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June 18, 2011 Posted by | Climbing, Health & Wellness, Inspiration | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday morning climb

Yup… Squeaks and I finally got back on some rock!! We were up bright and early this morning to hit up great falls before the crowds and the heat arrived. We were early enough that the park hadn’t officially opened yet….. it was AWESOME! It’s been too long since we’ve been out on some real rock….we’ve been climbing in the gym since it got cold last fall and today was the first day we could make it out to the crag.

I know that I’ve said this a million times before but climbing is just about the greatest thing in the world. It’s probably the only sport that would get me to happily bounce out of bed after only 5 hours of sleep to gather my gear, make some lunch and spend the next few hours melting in the heat (and still be smiling about it). It’s seriously one of the greatest experiences to be out on the rock first thing in the morning.

That said, climbing outside is SIGNIFICANTLY harder the climbing in the gym. Even though we’re climbing harder levels in the gym these days we both still struggled to find our rhythm in the great outdoors. It’s been about six months since we were outside last and set up our own anchors so we were a wee bit nervous. But, once we got out there it all came rushing back. It took us a bit to get the first rope set up and even longer to get up it…. but even though we were fighting with the route, and struggling to break back into climbing real rock both of us were giddy with laughter. I slipped more than once, fell a couple of times, banged knees and elbows into the rock and still smiled and giggled and had the time of my life.

As is always the case out in Great Falls we met up with a couple different groups of climbers. An older couple who’ve been climbing for 40+ years (which amazes and inspires me) and a group of guys (a bit younger than us I’d guess) who have been climbing for about a year and are also just starting to get into climbing outside. The most wonderful thing about climbers is that you can make friends with a quick wave and a hello. Everyone shares…. if you only have one route set up and another group sets up something you’d like to give a go all you need to do is ask. Climbers just inherently trust other climbers. It’s such a wonderful community of fun friendly people. We climbed with that group of guys for about 2 hours. We cheered them on. They cheered us on. We shared ropes and stories about getting started in climbing. But we never even needed to exchange names to know they were people we could talk to and laugh with and joke with.

Meeting random climbers (especially ones who are better than you) is a hidden bonus of getting out into the “real world of climbing”. Climbers love their sport so much that they WANT to teach people interested in learning all there is to know about the sport. While it’s a sport that’s growing in popularity… with a very specific kind of sub-culture, it’s never once felt ‘exclusive’. It’s a place where I’ve felt like I belonged right from day one. For me it’s a culture full of kindred spirits.

I can’t wait to get back out on some more rock as the rest of the season goes on.

May 29, 2011 Posted by | Climbing | , , , , , | Leave a comment