Since I started climbing in May, I had yet to experience the beautiful (and very popular) climbing at Exit 38 in North Bend, WA. As usual, I am never let down by the beauty Washington has to offer. We were off to a late start. Traffic was exactly what you would picture it to be at rush hour in the city, but my beloved travel companion, Sunshine, and I never mind. We spend traffic jams listing to Prof on repeat or talking about everything and nothing.
The drive is less than an hour out of the city, so we still were able to get a lot of hiking and climbing in before we turned in for the night. We met up with a friend Chris and a girl Crystal and climbed a couple routes at Interstate Park (after getting lost wandering in the woods for a bit). We ended up stumbling across a small plateau and decided that would be a great place to sleep under the stars. Since we had all of our gear on us, we ended up stashing it under a tarp near the area we planned on camping and as we descended down the trail back to where then truck was parked (40-ish minute walk). We Hansel & Gretel’d our way down, marking trees with climbing tape so we could find our way back. By the time we got to the parking lot, it was 10PM and we still needed to grab our sleeping gear and re-park the truck. Long story short, a mile and a half walk down the road in the pitch black (with head lamps leading the way) and another 40ish minute hike up the trail back to Far Side, we arrived at our camp. Gourmet dinner with couscous, TastyBites and two PBRs. Star gazing before bed with the dogs tucked in our sleeping bags, it was safe it say the day was a great success. And this was our view in the moring:
Upon waking up, we deciding sunbathing would be the best thing to do, so by the time we decided to pack up, it was after ten. Short “awkward family photo” shoot and we heading down to meet Chris and Crystal, other Chris and Aaron. Stashed some gear in the truck and headed to our next destination. It was about a ten minute hike to the Substation wall, which was under a trestle. Sunshine started the day off like a champ, leading a 5.10a (which I belayed, but was unable to finish climbing) and were later joined by Katie, Jenny, and several others. Assisted by Sunshine, I learned to rappel (off Glob Job), which was equally fun and terrifying. Was able to do several higher rated climbs, but since I have a bad habit of not writing keeping track of what routes I did and did not climb, I am unable to report them to you with certainty, so you don’t get to know.
Around 8PM, we decided to call it a day and packed up. Night cap of hula hooping, Tecate and small chatting with a couple other climbers, and we were off. All in all, short trip, but a blast, as usual. All photos are available for your viewing pleasure on my Flickr account.
So, I’m not updating as frequently as I though I might, but it’s fine. I’m sure you’re not too upset. And, if you are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Tumblr, you’re not missing out on anything. Moving along.
About a week ago, I went to the Mountaineer Columns with my dear friend, Sunshine. It was a 6.7 mile bike ride. We climb the crack for a couple hours, then it was a 6.7 mile ride back to our neighborhood (and I had to go immediately into work). The ride kicked my ass. If it weren’t for Sunshine’s encouragement, I might have died. It didn’t help that my tires needed air and my bike is significantly heavier. But this isn’t the time for excuses. What it comes down to is I’m out of shape and need to work on that.
I had the day off today, and a few days ago I started questioning where I could ride. I’ve considered riding my bike east to Cougar or Tiger Mountain. Cougar Mountain is only 14.8 miles away from me, which seemed very plausible. However, I doubted if I would be able to bike nearly 15 miles (yes, there are plenty of ascents and descents along the way) and then have the strength to do hiking, THEN ride back 15 miles. Since I had the day off today, I decided to check out the I-90 Trail, which runs along side of Interstate 90 (obviously). I wanted to see what kind of ride it would be, gauge how much huffing and puffing I’d do, etc. It wasn’t bad! For a trail that runs along the freeway, you didn’t see much of it, which was nice.
The ride was pretty “mild.” There were definitely some steep ascents, but equally as many descents. After my first few miles, I confessed to Twitter that I needed to invest in a pair of spandex shorts. The Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge (Seattle to Mercer Island) was quite a stretch, but it was great because the view was lovely and between the cars whipping by and the water, there was a pretty comforting and cooling breeze. There was a rad bike tunnel with some random art and loads of bikers passing through.
I dropped off into Park on the Lid (ate a peach), then to Luther Burbank park (ate a Cliff bar), then crossed the E Channel Bridge to Bellevue, where I rode around Mercer Slough Nature park (ate another Cliff bar) and relaxed.
Before I hit my “destination,” my back brakes ended up going out, so I had to pull over and remedy that. Cyclists, man. They’re so great. Nearly every single person that passed me (like, 20) slowed down or stopped to make sure I was OK and asked if I needed any help. It’s things like that that make me feel good and reinstates that faith in humanity. Thankfully, about three minutes of quick adjusting put me back on my wheels again.
I knew I wouldn’t be going any further east, and since I already rode over ten miles, I decided to head back home. I’m not ashamed to admit that every time I descended down a long stretch, I sung Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free bird” and every time I ascended up a painful stretch, I yelled out loud, “Keep it up! Don’t you stop now! Get it, get it, get it!!” and so on. I was drenched in sweat when all was said and done, but when I started seeing familiar streets, and threw out a few “Yeah Buddy’s.”
Dropped by QFC to get dinner. Road home. Realize at some point I lost half of my keys. Walked back a mile to the store and there they were, on the sidewalk by the bike rack. Lucky me. All in all, it was a great day. Topping the day off with writing to you, uploading the remaining photos to Flickr and drinking a Strongbow. Good day!
Alright, so I feel like I’m bragging and I’m really trying to stay humble. It’s not bragging in the sense of “HEY LOOK WHAT I DID – PRAISE ME!” It’s more like, “I’m really stoked about this accomplishment and I am excited to share it with others. Let’s back up a few months. My best friend, Sunshine has been asking me to go climbing with her for months. I’m a busy lass, so I kept putting it off. I always had an excuse. A few weeks ago, I met my friend, Neil, at a benefit concert. He just got into climbing, so we exchanged numbers and decided to go together some time. An opportunity finally came to go climbing with Sunshine and Neil and I was half tempted to call it off. I had orders to pack, videos to edit and a thousand other usual things. Sunshine and I have coined a phrase – “RESPONSIBILITIES ARE FOR LATERS” and we use it quite often. Shortly and obviously put, responsibilities can wait. Fun can happen now. So, I talked my roommate, Dan, into going and we went to Stone Gardens and gave it a go. I feel like I did pretty great for my first time, although I quickly realize how little forearm strength I had. Needless to say, I left wanting to go back. However, I haven’t been back since.
Sunshine and I have been going on adventures every week. Since we share the same schedule, we have off during the week and we are able to take short camping trips. Last week was Bellingham and the week prior was North Bend and Tinkham Road. I’ve seen more of this state in the past month than I have since I moved here in September, and I’m so grateful to have someone like Sunshine in my life to share these experiences with. I’ve hiked mountains, held sea stars, seen Snoqualmie falls, camped out in the rain, etc., etc., and the experiences keep growing.
Vantage, WA was next on our destination list. We didn’t have many expectations (We rarely do). We just wanted to get out in the desert. Long story short, Sunshine ended up talking to some strangers while I let my feet rest (Pro Tip – Don’t hike in Dr. Martens). I later joined the crowd (Justin, Chris, Lars, Yon, Emily and later Katie, Brooke, Jenny and Kelly). Four groups basically merged into one big group and everyone was helping everyone, shouting out words of encouragement, lending belaying devices, sharing lunch and just having a great time. Sunshine only had a harness and shoes and I had nothing. One of the guys offered Sunshine to climb and she took him up on the offer. Since I didn’t have any gear, Lars let me borrow his shoes and Sunshine her harness. What kind of person lets a dirty stranger borrow their climbing shoes without question? People who climb are a different kind of people. After Sunshine, I gave it a go. I was hooked. We ended up taking turns, switching harnesses and shoes and spending a few hours. Later in the evening, numbers were exchanged and we called it a night. Sunshine and I had a delightful meal of tacos and no utensils. Her and I have no problem using our dirty fingers to scoop out refried beans, so it works. I can’t imagine being high strung and going camping. I’m happy to be mellow and have an equally mellow traveling buddy. (:
The next day, we woke up early and got lost heading to Sunshine Wall. When we got turned around, we ran into Brooke and Kelly and they led the way. Brooke had an extra pair of shoes and harness and let me use them all day, even after she left. As we hugged goodbye, she said, “Just keep them for the day. I trust you for some reason.” More climbing, climbing and sunscreen. The photos hardly do this trip justice, and words fail to paint the pictures properly. There just aren’t enough pigments. You can view the entire Frenchman Coulee / Vantage trip on my Flickr, along with my other adventures.
I’m going to cut this short, but just know that I still can’t stop smiling and I learned a lot from this trip, which I will be sharing at The Radical Uprise. Life is grand, eh?