Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Joshua Tree, CA

September 21-23, 2007

My First Climb in SEVEN years!

When we were at CBC Lake Arrowhead, 3 trips we took were the same every year: Winter Camp at Carpinteria State Beach, Hume Lake Summer Camp, and a rock climbing excursion to Joshua Tree, CA. Last March for Mark's birthday we camped at our old site in Carpinteria--it was very fun although quite unusual to be there sans high school students. A couple months later Mark called to ask if he could book us our old site in Joshua Tree. We jumped at the chance. Apparently old habits die hard for us. Mark is an awesome rock climber, and he has, over the years, gathered enough equipment for lots of people of lots of ages to climb. Dan and Mark used to come to Joshua Tree in high school to climb (they brought a LOT less stuff than we have to take for a family!) and Dan loves it as well. We invited our new friends, Anthony and Melissa and their three kids, to come. Wonderfully, they agreed to come. That was s big stretch for them, seeing as only Anthony and Juli have ever camped, and Melissa is not so keen on being dirty or cold--both of which are guarantees on such a trip. But she was super tough and had lots of fun, even asking when we can go camping again!

I have not climbed a rock in 7 years--since before I was pregnant with Mckenna--and even then it's not like I climbed very often. So...needless to say I was not convinced I was going to shimmy right up those rocks! I am not particularly afraid of heights, and I trust the equipment and Dan and Mark; but, most importantly, my level of determination was high--I was going to climb! So Saturday morning Mark and Dan set up some climbs, harnessed up the kids, and the fun began.

Mckenna went first She is tough...with limits. She did fine, but didn't go as high as she did last year.

Juli was next. At 11 years old she had to climb like the adults, Dan couldn't help her as much as he could the little ones. She tried hard and we were proud.

Then Madisyn. Again, she was tough for trying, but she was not overly impressed.

Jackson got all excited...that only lasted the first few feet up the mountain.

Sadly, Dan managed a 3 for 3 record of getting tears from the Smith kids, but we are proud of them for giving it a shot. And they climbed ALL OVER the rocks that could could scramble up without the need for harnesses. Often they climbed much higher on those rocks, so it must be the whole harnessed in, climbing the face of a mountain thing.

Gabe loved getting in the harness and shoes, and insisted upon having the chalk bag strapped to him (why? it's not like he is going to use it...too cute). He climbed pretty high, but had a height limit. Over the weekend he climbed more times than anyone else. He just loved it. Of course, he had that chalk bag strapped to waist each time, evenwhen he had gloves on...which would kind of remove the need for the chalk...hmmm.

Okay, so the kids climbed, and then apparently it was my turn! Dan spent about a minute and a half (no exaggeration) teaching Melissa how to belay, and I was her guinea pig. I love her, I have faith in her, I trust her with my kids...but with my life? Yikes! Falling to your death in front of my kids is not the way I want to go!

I had spent WEEKS assuring Melissa and her kids that this was a great thing to do. So, rather than show any trepidation, I repeated over and over to myself, "Must be tough...must not let on that I am terrified"

So up I went.

Halfway up I realized two things. First, the first half was not so hard, the second half looked REALLY hard. Second, I had never made getting to the top a goal. I just was climbing, I had no need to reach the top. It's hard to climb well when you have no goal! Honestly, I did not reach the summit.

But....there was a harder climb later that I had no intentions of trying. Then, Dan and Mark challenged me, in ways only they can--involving some ego and pushing of buttons--so up I went.

Guess what? I made it! It was not pretty, it was not quick, but I muscled and finessed my way to the top--yea! I was genuinely proud of myself. I guess I don't have to be the "mom" who cooks and cleans but doesn't climb forever. Wahoo! When are we going again.

I will blog the rest of this later with pictures.

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