Jax Falls

Last night, just as I was about to lull myself to sleep with thoughts of rock, I suddenly jerked awake, my arms flailing desperately for a handhold of some kind as I had a momentary vision of myself falling off the face of the wall and plummeting helplessly to the ground.

But it was an awesome weekend though. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sun was out and it only went down to the fifties at night so we were all snug in our sleeping bags. Here are some pics:

A large group of us turned up for the climbing trip – at last count, around 20. And interestingly, the majority were math majors, and the rest mostly belonged to the biology department. Out of the 5 undergraduates, 4 were math majors. Where are all the econ majors I wonder…

We got in late on Friday – well actually, it was almost 2am when we finally straggled into the campsite, having gotten lost at the very last bit. Things were getting a little hairy with our gas situation as well, since my gas light had come on about 15 miles ago and all the gas stations nearby were close. Nonetheless, we gave it no further thought once we finally hit upon the campground. After quickly setting up our tents, we tumbled into our sleeping bags.

Though Pauline and I awoke at the really early time of 830am, the others were already up and moving towards the climbs. Dan and Mark, our two car-mates, waited patiently for us before we set off. There were two ways to get to the bottom of the valley – one was to climb our way down a steep rock face, using a knotted roped tied to a tree trunk. Another was to hike an extra 15 minutes and scamper down some rocks. Being still a little skeptical about the state of my foot, and muscles still tight, I was a little wary of the former option and so we walked that extra bit.

We came upon the others soon enough. They’d already set up a 5.9 route and were starting to climb that, so Mark brought us to a neighboring bit of rock and set up a 5.8 route for us to start with. Ahh, it felt good to be on the rock again. My foot took to the strain relatively well, but whether it’s because it’s really much better or because the pain of my rock shoes cutting into my heels overwhelmed the discomfort of my injured foot, I don’t know. Regardless, I had a good first run and was psyched up for more.

Time passed by really quickly. Before we knew it, it was already 2pm and we had completely forgotten about lunch. I climbed a total of just 4 climbs that first day, but the faces were all pretty varied and demanded different techniques. One climb in particular, was a narrow gully, and I had to wedge myself against both walls and slowly edge my way up – not unlike Santa trying to squeeze his way back up the chimney. However, I was sore all over by the end and looked forward to a relaxing evening sprawled out in front of a campfire.

Heh, dinner came before the campfire. We spread out into smaller groups for that. While some others started preparing really fancy gourmet dinners that required lots of dicing and stirring, Pauline had bought us instant chili which we simply needed to heat up, and viola. Coupled with Mark’s pita bread, we had a delicious meal, washed down with canned peaches and whiskey laced coffee. (Hmm, or should it be coffee laced with whiskey?)

Afterwards, a couple of the guys gathered the dry branches and soon got a roaring fire going. Like moths drawn to heat and light, we slowly but surely inched our way around the fire, forming a large and loose circle. Everyone was silent for a while, quietly enjoying the end of a tiring but happy day. But when the silence got a little pronounced, a couple of us attempted to liven things up by playing some campfire games. Hehe, that kinda fizzled though. Most people were too shy to want to go crazy. And being the U 0f Cers that we were, some people lasped into serious discussions about their current research. Haha. But there were two Australian brothers among us, and they’d brought their didgeridoo with them. Curiously, the other group of campers nearby had bongo drums in their midst too, so we were treated to some odd but fun musical fanfare.

Playing the didgeridoo

It was great to unwind before the merrily crackling fire though, especially when Devin brought out his 1.5 litre box of wine. 😉 Before I knew it, 3 hours had passed and I could barely keep my eyes open.

Though I’d originally intended to start heading back to Chicago by early afternoon, my plans were shot to wind the next day. I was sore from a full day’s climbing yesterday and didn’t have much strength for many more climbs, nonetheless, the day was too beautiful to waste. I did a couple more fun climbs – one was a corner climb, and I had to jam my hands hard into the cracks running up the wall face to try walk up. It wasn’t particularly difficult in terms of technical skill, but it required lots of strength and stamina – of which I have neither. Hehe, so I had to take lots of breaks in between to catch my breath before expending my next burst of strength to haul myself up another foot.

Me resting in my harness, 20 feet off the ground

Yah, it was a really fun trip. I can’t wait till I go out again – fingers crossed for Halloween weekend? In the meantime, I’ve already made plans to go gym climbing twice this week. 😀


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