Rare Gems: Bouldering in VA

First…wow.  Do I suck.  I haven’t updated this thing since January 1st.  I can blame this on work and other time-consuming activities, but ultimately, they are just excuses, and I find myself trying to lead an excuse-free life.  Unsuccessfully, it would seem.

Any who, I write this from scenic Zion Crossroads, VA.  No, seriously, there is some nice scenery here.  But how does one who works and lives in Philadelphia find themselves 250 miles from home, you may ask?  One of my oldest friends, someone I’ve known and been close with for going on 20 years now (and that number just hit me like a ton of bricks) is getting married today, so that’s why I find myself south of the Mason Dixon line and in the heart of the Bible Belt.

I was going to try to hit a local climbing gym, being that the ceremony isn’t until 5:00 this evening, but when I texted Darcey (the bride-to-be) about the quality, she let me know that her fiance was going bouldering in the morning, and that I could come along if I wanted.  I hadn’t really hung out with the guy more than once, but an invite is an invite, and I liked the idea of getting my hands on some real rock.  (See the last time I posted, above?  Probably been just about as long since  I pulled on any routes, plastic, real or otherwise.)

So, at 8:30 this morning, Chance (the fiance) picked me up at the hotel in his pickup, and we made our way to a little spot called Mormmon’s Boulder (I think…something like that).  It seems to me, the outsider, to be tucked away in the rolling hills and woods nestled between the multitude of family farms in the area, and it really is a pleasant spot.  The rock reminded me a lot of the quality rock that is around Philly, with these striations that ran at 45 degree angles from right to left and slightly overhanging.  Good positive surfaces as well, and a lot of options for problems.

We warmed up on a few easier ones, and some of Chance’s climbing buddies showed up.  I was little intimidated at first, not socially, but with the prospect that these guys all obviously climbed a lot, and here I had been slacking for 9 months now and had lost much of my strength and endurance.  What was nice, though, was that these guys were all very cool and reminded me of my buddies from college, and they were not at all judgmental, so it turned into a nice morning of destroying our hands and sending some nice problems.

As time ran low (the man had a wedding to get to, remember), we wrapped up with a simple problem that was an all-points-off dyno of about 6 or 7 feet.  Chance and his friend both nailed it on the first go, and in my three attempts, I was able to get one hand on the in-cut lip, but swung off all three times, the last time tweaking my ankle a bit.

A couple of things that I am taking away from today’s little excursion:

  1. My knee is doing better than I had originally thought.  I had been having awful pain in my knee, radiating down to my foot, and the doctor chalked it up to an inflamed bone.  Treatment: no running for at least 6 weeks, resting it up.  It still felt tender from time to time when I would walk any distance, and it was especially pronounced when there was any kind of incline.  No pain today, though (so far), so this is making me feel as though it’s getting better and maybe I can push myself a little more (no running yet, but maybe some more climbing…)
  2. I need to get back to climbing more.  I have the home “gym” now, and I really need to be making better use of it.  I always take some time off every year, but not usually this long, and today reminded me of why I enjoy climbing so much: the movement, the moment, the camaraderie.  Time to get back to that, and try to capture at least two out of three for a while. (None of my climbing partners live anywhere near me.)

Hopefully I will also be able to convince myself to write more often as well.

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