Trad Leading

16 Mon, 2011 § 1 Comment

I thought I was a boulderer.  Does this really make sense?

[Binou’s Crack, Indian Creek, by David Finch]

I like the short, intense aspect of bouldering, so anything on a rope starts to feel long & never-ending rather quickly.  I can’t help myself though.  Recently, I have fallen for the challenge of overcoming my fear of trad leading.

It is difficult to put into words the satisfaction & confidence (& delirious excitement) gained when placing my own gear into the cracks, nurturing trust in my ability & coaxing my body to climb above these placements, pushing myself the entire length of the crag.

For me, trad (short for traditional) climbing is a head game.

The routes I touch when leading trad are not physically limiting to me.  I choose grades completely within my abilities.  Each move is well within my range.  I know I can do it, but often, I won’t allow myself to know it.  I let fear kick me off the wall.

The urge to retreat is strong — I want to give up & lower to the ground — as the “what ifs” & “I can’ts” echo in my head.  When I climb on, through this fear, I learn something about myself I get to take off the wall & carry with me:

I am stronger than I think I am.   I am capable of much more than I give myself credit.  I do not have to live in fear or stress.  I do not give up.

You don’t have to climb mountains (though you might like it if you try), but I challenge you to find something that is hard, something you have to work for, & push yourself.  It shouldn’t necessarily be physically limiting but mentally challenging.

In those moments we push through the constraints of our minds, when we go beyond what we previously thought we were capable of doing, we are liberated & rewarded with a glimpse of our true selves.

There is only room to grow, only room to expand, so stop limiting yourself.

~

How do you push the bounds of your mind’s self-imposed limitations?

I Boulder

10 Tue, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’m a boulderer;

or rather, I boulder.

[on Tranced Out & Dreaming in Ibex, Utah by David Finch]

Give me a rock with a few, fun, strenuous, limit moves, I’m content to fall off it for hours.

Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense.

Because I don’t like falling.

Actually, I don’t mind falling; it’s hitting the ground I dread, even from a short distance.  Considering the bad ankle sprain I earned after one of my first gym bouldering sessions, this is a reasonable fear.

Even before a boulder starts to approach true “high ball” status, I might burst into tears in my desperation to top out.  In these moments, I’d give anything not to hit the ground; I’d much rather be taking my fall tied into the end of a rope 60 feet up.

So why boulder?

Bouldering strips rock climbing to an even bearer, rawer state.  Little equipment is required.  If I was truly a purist, I’d be climbing naked, chalkless & shoeless.  Once I step up to the rock, “the mechanism clears”: it’s just me…the rock…my body…moving with the stone…yielding to its permanence…pushing the bounds of my own limits.  There is no physical reward at the “top” — no significant or measurable height achieved; no bird’s-eye view — only the victory of inner growth, the submission of the ego (beaten down by falling over & over again) & a connection with what is truly greater than all else.

Presence.

Bouldering isn’t the only rock climbing I do; but when I need to touch rock now, the most natural tug leads me out the door with a simple pair of shoes, a pad (or two or three) & a little chalk.

~

Where do you find presence?

Indian Creek & [Flourless] Almond Butter Cookies

28 Thu, 2011 § Leave a comment

We always wish we had something sweet when sitting around the fire.

[photo by David Finch]

The smore suggestion is often thrown around, but vegan marshmallows are expensive & usually use syrup — & Allie-approved graham crackers & chocolate aren’t exactly cheap either…& I’m out of homemade chocolate…already.

We went with cookies, because cookies are easy & easy to tailor.  I did not want a flour-based one that might leave us feeling heavy for climbing, so these use almond butter as the base with ground flaxseed to bind everything together.  They are a little crumbly — not so much so they disintegrate on you, but they might not survive milk dunking —  subtly sweet & [almond] buttery.  Cookies that were exactly what I was wanting for our camping trip:

Almond Butter & Cacao Nib Cookies

makes ~16 small cookies

Preheat oven to 350*F.

  • 4 dates, pureed into paste
  • 1 C almond butter, unsalted & stirred well
  • 1 flax “egg” (whisk 1 T freshly ground flaxseeds with 3 T warm water, allow to thicken ~10 minutes)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • ~1/4 C cacao nibs (or mini-chocolate chips)

Combine all ingredients except cacao nibs & mix well [you don’t want to bite into a salt or baking soda cloud].   Stir in cacao or chocolate pieces.  Spoon into tablespoon-size balls & flatten onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for ~12 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack & cool 15 minutes longer.

~

What sweets or treats do you take camping?

Indian Creek & Our Damp Solitaire

27 Wed, 2011 § 10 Comments

Our new route to Indian Creek, Utah is one of my favorites.  Monument Valley is stunning & diverse.  Even though driving home & back to “reality” can be disheartening, I can think of worse views.

[photo by David Finch]

Clouds, often responsible for creating nice, filtered light & ominous skies for photos, plagued much of our camping trip.

[by Allie]

Rainy days meant fewer climbing days, because wet rock should not be climbed, though many choose to ignore this common sense & decency law.  The weather treated us to a lesson in Being & patience as we were left to fill more days than expected with “rest day” activities.

One morning we took advantage of National Park Week & the waived fees to trek into Canyonlands.  We intended to hike to the confluence of the Colorado & Green Rivers.  The longer-than-anticipated, already quick-paced hike was cut short when we turned & ran 3 – 4 miles back to our little, awaiting Eisley.  I would definitely call this an advanced running trail & hope we actually make it to the confluence next time.

Another rainy afternoon, we retreated into the tent for card games.  Much of our time was spent reading to each other though.  We took turns reading chapters from Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, beautifully written & highly enlightening.  I was tickled (yes, tickled) when Dave asked me to read aloud to him.  The simple act of sharing a book felt fresh & intimate, especially because we were immersed in pages so fresh with passion & intimate with love for the desert.

Though the rain spoiled some of our “plans”, it offered us time to reflect inward, connect outward & recognize its precious presence in this beautiful desert.

~

Do you ever read aloud with others?

Sprouted Quinoa, Pear & Molasses Granola

26 Tue, 2011 § 2 Comments

Did you miss us?  No?  Did you even notice we had left?  No? 😛  Tricky aren’t we?

I eluded to our camping trip, which we thoroughly enjoyed…last Tuesday through Sunday.  I prepped a couple posts, hit schedule, unplugged & lost myself in the desert for 5 days.

Aw.

(even despite the rain.)

Aw.

Are we really back?

We are, but now I can reminisce over our adventures with you.

We should always start with food though; don’t you agree?

I love quinoa granola & have found its perfect match: molasses.  Try it.  You’ll never look back.

Molasses is a rich source of iron & calcium — important for those following a plant-based diet — as well as magnesium & potassium, providing 20% of the daily recommended value for each of these nutrients.

Sprouted Quinoa & Pear Granola with Molasses & Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 250*F.

  • 1 pear, diced
  • 1 C quinoa, sprouted
  • 1/2 C almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 C ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 C black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 C buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 C hemp protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 C molasses
  • 2 T apple juice

Stir together dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients separately.  Stir wet ingredients into the quinoa mixture & mix together.  Spread granola onto a parchment-lined baking sheet & bake ~1 hour.  Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces & storing in an airtight container.

Homemade granola — especially quinoa granola — is great for camping, backpacking or hiking.  It is the perfect way to cram a lot of nutrients into a light-weight, easy-to-pack & store snack.  Along with pieces of banana, this was delicious, light fuel in the mornings.  Dave enjoyed it so much, I’ll be sure to make enough to share next time.  😉

~

Do you cook with molasses?

Spring Cleaning, Eating & Camping

20 Wed, 2011 § 4 Comments

Spring has brought on more than just the need to get out & rough it for a few days.  It has triggered other transitions as well — Spring Cleaning we’ll say — like cleaning up our finances & tracking how we are spending all of our income, so we are better & more quickly able to save up for more extensive traveling.

That is not the only thing I have been cleaning up a bit though: I generally eat quite clean but lately have been trying to eat particularly clean & time my meals according to my physical activities.  I feel great & might be figuring out a few more things about my body & nourishing it properly.

It can be tricky to eat clean while camping though.  With a good amount of planning & prep work, I think I may pull it off for our Creek trip though.  I will share details, photos & recipes after our trip, but here is a look at our menu:

~Breakfasts are simple & light, so we can get up & get to the crag [the outdoor “climbing wall”] bright & early.

  • Rooibos tea
  • sprouted quinoa, pear & molasses granola
  • fruit
  • Dave also has muesli & oatmeal, kefir & hard-boiled eggs.

~”Lunch” is also small; we prefer to snack throughout the day between climbs.

  • fruit: apples, cantaloupe, kiwi
  • dates rolled in coconut
  • popped amaranth & papaya energy bites
  • baked tofu

~Few things are better than returning to camp completely exhausted & enjoying a delicious, nourishing dinner.  Some of these are experimental, & I’m excited to see how they turn out.  Cross your fingers for us!

  • tinfoil dinners with lentil-walnut burgers & meat for Dave [2 nights]
  • Field Roast sausages with roasted apples, butternut squash & rosemary in butter lettuce wraps [2 nights]

~We always wish we had something sweet after dinner, so I decided to make a treat to satisfy our cravings but without the sugar shock or heaviness flour often leaves.

  • [flour-less] almond butter & cacao nib cookies

~Staying hydrated means a lot of water; I am also taking coconut water this trip.  We always come home a little dehydrated — sometimes more than a little — & sometimes I get pretty sick following a trip.  I also often crave tart juice after an especially active, sweaty day, so I grabbed a tropical Naked juice made with coconut water, pineapple, mango & other juices for a nice treat on the rocks.

~

How & what do you usually eat while camping?

Desert Trip!

19 Tue, 2011 § 3 Comments

I am in need of simplicity.

[photo by David Finch]

To be honest, we live pretty simply; but there is something centering about the desert & a long camping trip — Dave & I have both been craving this!

We have all but been counting down the days to our upcoming Creek trip.

Indian Creek, Utah is one of our favorite climbing destinations

& where Dave & I exchanged our vows.  I have talked about The Creek before:

1.  Here is a glimpse of why Indian Creek is so cherished.  This camping trip differed from the usual & opened our eyes to a different perspective of IC.

2.  Many people find the desert boring; these people are crazy. 😉  I find a sense of peace in its austerity, & I always learn something about myself among it sparseness & resilience like I shared in this post.

I am sure I will have more to share after our Spring trip!

~

Do you find the desert beautiful?  Any camping trips planned?

Spring Dreaming

18 Fri, 2011 § 4 Comments

Can you be homesick for a place that felt like home for only a brief time?

Yes.

Can you miss people you only knew for three weeks & could hardly communicate with?

Yes.

Can we go back right now?

…[sigh]

Yesterday was a bit grey & overcast; it got me thinking about where we were a year ago.

It sure doesn’t feel like Thailand was twelve months ago!

With our anniversary approaching, I thought maybe I could share some highlights from our trip…next week.

I also want to share an amazing workout move Dave created…so watch for it…tomorrow [or later tonight actually].

I know I am lame to post “going tos”, but while everyone else was out for St. Patty’s Day, Dave & I were climbing our little hearts out at the gym last night…& I was  too exhausted & in too much pain to type, & it was too dark to take photos of his move.  I hope it gives you a couple things to look forward to though! 🙂

Bouldering felt amazing — other than the MASSIVE flapper I got!  This is always tricky business: should I just cut the skin off & move on or try to nurse it back to reattaching?  It’s a thick enough piece, it might just do it…if I have the patience to nurse it…& if it starts to heal before tomorrow’s climbing trip.  Hmm, I probably should have just cut.

Hope you had a fun [pain-free] night.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

~

Does the back & forth Spring weather have you daydreaming of past or future vacations?

Sense of…

15 Tue, 2011 § 6 Comments

Adventure

Direction

~

When Eisley is home alone, I often skip a lunch break to condense my workday, so I can get home to her sooner.  She is with Dave today though, so I can break my day up the way I like to.

A short run sounded perfect, because my calves have been pretty tight — I can feel it down into my arches — & I didn’t want to overdo them.  20 or 30 minutes should have been just fine.

1.5 hours later, I dragged myself back to my desk.

Ouy.

I started on a nice, paved trail, which connected with another road.  This would have been a good spot to turn around, but sometimes I have a difficult time going back where I have already been.  When I saw a sign for one of the Flagstaff Urban Trails, I thought “Perfect!  That is probably one of the trails I saw when I started; it should just loop back around & drop me off near work.”

It did loop…& eventually I got back to work, but not until it had looped & dropped & climbed & crissed & crossed & forked…& spit me out much farther from work than I had planned.

I second-guessed myself…tip-toed through mud…back-tracked…re-tracked…& finally just stuck it out.  It was very unsettling to be so turned around — I’m usually much better with my sense of direction — it must be the elevation. 😉  I tried to enjoy myself & accept I was a bit lost & would eventually find my way out.  Even though the thick forest surrounding me blocked my view, there are certainly worse things to be swallowed up by.  It really was beautiful out! & I realized how liberating it could be [if I wasn’t lost] to run in the forest more often, so I’ve been inspired to get a pair of trail running shoes…& consult a map next time.

Because I took a late lunch, my biggest concern fear was I wouldn’t be back when Dave came to pick me up.  I didn’t have my phone; no one knew exactly where I was.  Awkward.  Fortunately, I did make it back with about an hour to spare!

I am sorry calves.  I will ice you tonight; please don’t hate me tomorrow.

~

Have you ever been lost on one of your runs (or hikes)?

Snow Dog

28 Mon, 2011 § 3 Comments

Sunday was a lazy lonely day.  I woke to snow falling, which didn’t cease until several inches more lay on the ground.

Saturday I climbed at the gym & intended to be active again yesterday, but movies, lounging & knitting [& re-knitting] made up much of my day until Dave gently coaxed me over the phone into taking a hike.

Trudging through a good foot-&-a-half to two feet of snow is generally not my idea of a good time, & I soon considered retreating.  Eisley’s “crazy dog”-sprints back & forth made me laugh & the fresh air invigorated me, so there was no turning back just yet.  The photographer in me even hibernated.  I just wanted to enjoy being out with Eis.

[An older photo of Eisley [not-so-much] enjoying the snow]

She coaxed me straight up the steep hill into the woods though there is a perfectly good trail that meanders more gradually.  This perfectly good trail waaas hidden by the snow, offering us a blank canvas.  Though her route might not have been my first choice, I had to follow her child-like excitement as we broke first tracks.  She charged halfway up the hill, turned & looked as if to say, “hurry, follow me, mom!”  When I met her, she even pounced at me playfully.  Everyone should be blessed with this type of companionship.

Eisley does not always love the snow, but yesterday she sprang, dashed & rolled in the white powder.

I do not always love the snow either, but I guess it is growing on both of us.

p.s. Guess who will be home today?!!  Expect next post to be short & sweet. 😉

~

Do you like playing in the snow?

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