"Not all those who wander are lost"

Cliff Jumping

4th of July

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea and the music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but Nature more.

-Lord Byron

 

Wednesday (6/29) morning was the usual sitting on the porch hanging out and waiting to see how the day plays out.  I was all set to go and still nobody to climb with so I decided to work on whittling a spoon.  I’m sure you all have more foresight than I did.  Naturally after a while my hand slipped and I sliced my thumb.  Instantly it started gushing blood.

With my thumb sealed up with krazy glue and athletic tape I headed off to Summersville lake with Mark, a friend I met in Yosemite last fall, and Matt whom I had just met at Roger’s.  We warmed up on some really fun 5.10s at the Orange Oswald wall before moving on to do some harder climbs.  The only problem was that my krazy glue had already broken and my thumb had begun to bleed into the tape when I used it.  After a new round of glue I jumped on Satisfaction Guaranteed.  After getting making my way though the bouldery moves to get off the ground, a technical and difficult slab, and pulling through a roof my thumb began to stream blood.  Pumped from the roof and unable to grip through the blood I quickly fell off.  Once I had wiped all the excess blood off onto the rock and re-taped my thumb (I had to get the tape thrown up to me) I managed to finish the route.

Before we headed out we jumped in the lake to cool down and of course, to try to deep water solo.  I found on great boulder problem starting in the water with a few big moves that Mark and I took turns trying to finish.  Every time we ended up with full body extension into a sloped side pull and not being able to move our feet.  Despite not being able to finish the problem it was certainly a great one and very fun.

 

Thursday I joined up with the two French Canadians, Evelyne and Sophie, as well as a couple of the guys, Scurvy and Ken, who live at Roger’s for a trip out to Meadow River.  Seven miles of wavy dirt roads, sketchy bridges, massive pot holes, and a stream crossing later we made it to the crag.  The day was spent on some 11s and attempting a couple 12s, belaying, and hanging out.  Again, the krazy glue holding my thumb together split and I bled on another route.  Life at the New had begun to be normal and I loved it.  Every day was spent climbing with some hanging out on the porch in the morning and evening.

(Sophie on Depth Charge, 5.12b)

 

While I was in Morgantown I had ordered a crash pad online and managed to convince Ian to drive down to the New for the weekend to deliver it and hang out.  I met Ian and his friend Jess at Summersville lake to do some climbing and deep water soloing.  Both were eager learners and I was happy to see that Ian was getting better since the beginning of our trip in New England.  Unfortunately, despite my checking, when he got to the top of the route, he was lost on how to clean the route.  I had explained the process when we were in New Hampshire, but all of the anchors at Rumney had been quick clips so he never had to actually clean.  Before I could yell instructions up to him the girl on the next route over helped explain since she was right next to him.  Crisis averted we headed back to the parking area to meet up with a two more of Ian’s friends, Mac and Kristine.  Once we got everyone together we headed to Whippoorwill, a crag that has sport climbing when the lake drains in the winter but is deep water soloing during the summer.  Armed with noodles Ian brought we swam, climbed, jumped and played around.  I even got lots of the climbing on video with my GoPro (equipped with a nalgine for flotation) including underwater climbing.  When we got back to Roger’s I was stunned; the number of tents tripled while I was gone for the day.  The advantage of the fourth of July crowd was that someone finally got around to making a fire which all the regulars hadn’t bothered to do since I arrived.

(Ian climbing at the lake)

(Kristine, Jess, Ian, Me, and Mac at the lake)

 

Saturday morning Jess and Mac headed out early.  Ian and Kristine on the other hand couldn’t be motivated to do much besides taking a nap for most of the morning.  After a while I got them going and we headed to the Bridge area.  We got down underneath the bridge and stopped for some pictures, but before we could go any further ambulances, cops, and park rangers passed by and stopped just down the road, closing it off to traffic.  Someone had been hurt at the crag, but it wasn’t until later that I found out what happened.  Apparently a guy was drunk by noon and thought it a good idea to free solo some routes.  He did one, but fell off the second from almost at the top and somehow managed to survive.  He was in the ICU for a while, but last I heard he was getting better.  Another sobering reminder to know your limits.  Since the road was blocked off we went back to the one area we could get to and since I didn’t have my trad gear I set up some top ropes for Kristine to climb.  When we finished climbing the road had been opened for a while so we headed to the car to go swim at the river.  The local swim spot on the river is right before some rapids so we got great views of boaters while we played in the water.  We got dinner and free local beer (from a coupon left on our car at the bridge) before Ian and Kristine headed back to Morgantown.  With them gone I went back to the usual hanging out on the porch until some of us went to a free bluegrass show.

(4th craziness at Roger’s)

 

Sunday was another lake day.  I hated to keep going to the same place so many times when there were so many placed that I hadn’t been at all, but then again, the water was great.  I hung out most of the day with a couple people from Roger’s but I found out once I got there that none were going back to Roger’s.  I managed to find a potential ride with some other people I knew were staying at Roger’s too so continued to climb and swim.  Looking for a climb to deep water solo I climbed starting from a low horizontal crack.  After a few moves the holds disappeared and I fell back into the water with a splash.  I began to swim to a similar horizontal crack about 10 feet away before I noticed a snake sitting in the crack.  Once I noticed the snake I remembered hearing someone mention a copperhead a couple hours before.  I gave the snake a wide berth and went to another spot where I could easily climb.  I got 15 feet up the climb when a wasp stung me and continued to buzz around me.  I called it quits and swam back giving the copperhead a wide berth again.  My ride back proved interesting.  First thing as we were leaving the parking lot he asked which way to turn.  The ride back was filled with similar questions and comments, most prevalently was asking if every road we drove past was the turn to Fayetteville.

 

Fourth of July!  As usual I hung out on the porch until I found someone to climb with.  This time it was Daryl guy up from Ashville for a few days.  We headed down to the Rico Suave area of Kaymoor.  After a warm up I got on Out of the Bag (5.11d).  I climbed up the face of the buttress on big moves to an insecure crux with no good feet or hands, but ended up getting to tired figuring it out to onsight the route.  On my second attempt I made it through the first part of the crux but messed up the next moves on tiny crimps.  My third try I finally got it; moving up through the crux into a section of tiny crimps and some more awkward technical moves up to the anchors.  It was my hardest red point since getting back on my ankle and I was happy to get it.  In my search for the perfect climb it was certainly coming in towards the top and definitely my favorite climb I had done at the New so far.  Clouds had been rolling in while we climbed and now we heard thunder getting closer.  For some that would be time to bail, but as Roger is quoted in the guide book say “Rico’s dry” we decided to keep climbing.  The Rico (the route) is four star 5.10 so we got on it.  By the time Daryl and I finished it was a full downpour but we were (mostly) dry under an overhang.  We chilled out of the rain with three other people, Weston, Chiara, and Doug, who had been climbing next to us.  I spent most of the time giving advice about New Zealand to Chiara who is moving there soon.  The rain eased up a bit and we hiked back to Roger’s.  Unable to climb for the rest of the day I headed to Class VI to sneak a free shower.  Clean and clean shaved I returned to camp just in time to pile into a minivan with 12 other people to ride into town for the fireworks.  It may be a small town, but Fayetteville went all out for the holiday with a fair, rides, and 45 minutes of fireworks.

(On Out of the Bag, 5.11d)


East Coast Exploration

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.

-Jawaharial Nehru

 

12/27

Spent most of the day doing nothing but ended up hungry with no food and it was still too early for the dining hall (more of a catered dinner each night).  It was the perfect opportunity to explore the restaurant in the labor camp.  Stan and I ventured out the gates of EA, past the mosque, and across the dusty dirt soccer “field” to the restaurant.  We walked in and took a seat.  A marker board hanging on the wall listed about 12 options.  Not knowing what anything was and not wanting to get something with meat I attempted to ask what was vegetarian.  It was quite confusing because he barely spoke English and I don’t speak any Hindi or Arabic.  After quite a bit of confusion I managed to order Alu Palak which I was pretty sure wouldn’t have any meat and some roti.  The food arrived in a couple minutes.  The roti was the largest I have seen, about a foot in diameter.  The alu palak was not quite such a large portion (and had no meat), but both were excellent.  After we finished up our food we got our check.  11dhs.  My part was only 4 ($1.08).  Great food.  Amazing price.

After dinner I went to play soccer with Andy, Stan, and Omar.  Unfortunately the field had already been reserved.  We went on anyway and played on the unused side of the field.  A kid of the people who reserved the field came and played with us so we played 2v2 with Andy in goal.  He was pretty good considering he was only about 8 and barefoot.  The only problem was that he was scared of Omar after he blasted a shot that Andy unintentionally saved with his face.

 

12/28

We woke up early to head out on a hike to Wadi Wurayah.  Michelle and her friend Akheel picked Stan, Andy, and I up at 5AM to head to the east coast for a hike.  Unfortunately we missed some turns and took a bit of the long way around so we went all the way up to Ras Al-Khaimah, down to Fujairah, then back up almost to Dibba turning our 1.5 hour trip into a 4 hour trip.  Our plan to arrive before sunrise to see some wildlife was further foiled by the terrible directions we got online.  Not quite knowing where to go we stopped at a parking lot next to a dry dam.  We were pretty sure we weren’t at the wadi but hoped we could hike the last bit to it.  We hiked down to the dry creek bed.

The mud from past floods tiled the ground and curled up where it had cracked apart.  We found feline foot prints dried in the mud and small wild melons all over the cracked floor.  Most of the melons were dried up, but a few were still healthy looking.  I cracked one open with my knife and tried a little piece.  It may not have been bad but it certainly wasn’t ripe.  It was the most bitter thing I have ever tasted.  I washed my mouth out immediately.  That didn’t help.  I ate an apple and drank some more water.  Eventually the bitter taste subsided.  We spotted a small offshoot that looked interesting and began hiking up it.  Exploring and meandering we worked our way up the dry bed a little ways passing a hole or den some kind of cat had dug out.  After a bit we agreed that we needed to figure out where we were going a little bit more if we wanted to actually make it to the wadi.  I volunteered to climb up to the top of the nearby peak and see what I can see; Akheel wanted to come too.  I set off scrambling up the ravine as it turned from a moderate hike to true chossaneering.  To avoid pulling off some loose rock, pitching over backward, and tumbling hundreds of meters to my certain demise I shook, hit, pulled, and kicked every rock before I put any weight on it.  I conquered mountain at last and scrambled up to the carren.  I looked around soaking in the 360 degree vista.

From the top I could see back to Indian ocean and Snoopy Island.  Surveying the cry washes to determine the direction of the wadi I noticed a road, paved and all, heading up one branch.  That was where we needed to go.  Our meager directions had lead us to the dam rather than the waterfall of the wadi.  We headed back down to meet up with everyone and trekked back to the car.  The entire hike I had been noticing the abundance of garbage lodged in every crack of dried mud and every recess in the rock.  I began to grab a couple pieces on our way back and before I knew what was going on Andy had joined with gusto so by the time we got back we had collected so many bottles, pieces of foam, and even 5 gal water jugs we could have filled several full sized trash bags.

We piled back into the car eager to get away from the flies the coated everything (as they seem to do in all of the UAE) and headed back down the paved road to take the road we hadn’t chosen before.  We headed on down the road until the pavement ended again.  This time seemed much more hopeful and after walking only a few hundred meters we spotted the wadi.  A hundred meters below.  Our most recent road had lead us to an overlook where we could see the green reeds, lush plants, and waterfall of the wadi, all covered in spray-paint and litter.  I located a spot where I could make my way down the steep scree to get to the wadi.  Akheel decided to brave to slope but Stan, Andy, and Michelle weren’t so brave and decided to go back to what looked like a better path a little farther back.  As I made it down to the bottom I found a small goat skull and a bright scarf.  I named it Fred.

The wadi was great and terrible.  As I mentioned before, it was covered with litter and spray-paint which was quite sad, but it was still beautiful.  I veritable fountain of life in the middle of the harsh desert.  I climbed around the pool of water and inspected it.  It was crystal clear and looked pretty deep.  I looked up to see the ledges above.  Oh yeah.  I went back and walked into the water.  It was cool and refreshing, even to the point of chilly compared to the toasty desert.  I swam across to the deep pool and dove.  It was plenty deep (around 4m).  I got out and climbed back around, convincing Akheel to jump oh the ledge that was about 3m.  Wanting to get pictures of me jumping I waited for our stragglers to jump.  About 40 minutes after us they finally strolled up.  They had decided to try to drive back and all the way up to the wadi, but eventually ditched the car due to the rocky track and walked a ways in.  Once I had recruited a photographer a walked around up to the top ledge.  I stood and debated my leap.  Trying to determine how high it was I asked around and the common answer seemed to be 25m, but I don’t think it could have been more than 20m.  After a minute of contemplation nerves (related to the depth of the water mostly) got the better of me and I moved to another slightly lower ledge.  With Andy’s waterproof camera around my wrist I leaped from the ledge.  Encouraged by the fact that I didn’t even come close to the bottom I ran back to the top and hurled myself off the tallest ledge.