"Not all those who wander are lost"

Fireworks

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)


Bouldering Wall!

Why not go out on a limb?  Isn’t that where the fruit is?

-Frank Scully

 

1/18

Math I was moved to Wednesday so I had no class!  Honestly don’t even remember what I did during the day, probably spent most of the time trying to do Senior Design.  The real interest of the day was going to the Rech Cave.  A local climber, Gordon, had invited me to come over on Tuesdays because he has friends come over to hang out and climb, but up until now class had been in the way and I could never get a ride.  Sam’s schedule had changed (somehow she’s the one person who I can convince to come get me to do stuff) and Tuesdays worked for her now.  She picked me up and we headed to Ace and Mirdif to since we never made it before.  After getting quicklinks and webbing we headed to Gordon’s.  It was interesting getting there because, despite living in a fairly large villa community, the turn into the community from the highway just looks like you’re driving off into the desert.  After a few hundred feet the pavement returns, but for some reason neither end is marked or paved at all.

We went in and introduced ourselves.  There were a handful of other people there; it was the most climbers I had seen since being in UAE.  And best of all:  Gordon’s climbing wall which spanned three panels wide, a box feature, and a ceiling panel.  Even better the wall was composed of all problems that were just right difficulty for me to work on for a while and eventually get.  Every time I say I want to travel more this is the counter argument.  When I get homesick, it’s homesick for a climbing wall like this, well, that and moms cooking.  I helped Gordon scheme up new panels to add since apparently lots of what’s there was only recently put in.  We contemplated moving light fixtures, covering the ceiling, cool feathers, and just about anything that would increase awesomeness and size of the wall.  Everyone turned out to be really friendly and fun.  We even made plans to go climbing the following weekend (or more made plans for me to join them since they were already planning on going).  We headed out with plans for the weekend still floating through my head.

 

1/19

Islamic Culture class has been a letdown in terms actually learning about the reality of Islam and Arabic culture.  As a result we have rallied some of the local students and arranged for them to teach us what we really wanted from the class to begin with.  The first class was a little crazy because we had three kids teaching us stuff sometimes at once.  Overall it was great though and I was quite impressed with their preparation and eagerness to teach us.  The first thing I learned is how to write my name in Arabic:

ديلان

 

1/20

The start of Dubai Shopping Festival! Oh joy, just what I’ve been waiting for.  We headed to Dubai Festival City (don’t get excited, it’s just another mall) because our free bus was going there and it’s pretty close to where they were shooting off fireworks.  We grabbed some dinner and headed to Dubai Creek Park in a taxi.  Four of the six people ended up wanting to stay a bit longer at the mall so it only ended up being just Nina and me.  We got dropped off and began exploring the park.  I don’t know whether to call it torture or amazing: there were free bounce houses, inflatable slide, and obstacle courses all for free, and all for little kids so I couldn’t play on them.  A parade banged, clashed, drummed, and sang as people dressed up in all kinds of costumes from across the world and some just from someone’s imagination walked by (some of the costumes were a little reminiscent of West Hollywood Halloween).  As soon as the parade passed everyone began to flood toward the creek so we figured fireworks would start soon.  I found a random tower platform that had some kids in it.  We climbed up and sat in the front and waited for the fireworks to start.  We had the best seats in the house.  The fireworks were spectacular.  Every kind of firework I knew as well as many I hadn’t seen before light up the sky.  The show lasted for 25 minutes just for a shopping festival.  The fireworks ended and we headed back to Festival City to try to catch the free bus going to EA.  Traffic was terrible so we began to walk.  As we headed across a parking lot just outside the park I heard a screech and snapped my head up in time to see a car hit a little boy and send him flying through the air.  I was horrified; it was the first time I’ve ever seen someone get hit by a car in real life.  The mom shrieked and a crowd gathered around the boy.  As we walked past the boy looked to be at least mostly alright and I felt a little better that he looked to be about 10 (initially I thought he was about 4 or 5) and there was no blood gushing.  We continued on, crossing over the creek and headed toward the mall.  Of course, as soon as we were away from traffic we couldn’t find a taxi to bring get us there faster.  We made it back at about 9:45.  Unfortunately the bus which used to leave at 10:30 had left at 9:30.  We gave up and flagged down a taxi to get back to EA.