Friday, November 5, 2010

Kentucky Livin' and Lovin' It

In the past few years, I’ve spent many weekends in Kentucky.  It wasn’t until recently, however, that I realized just how much that place and this sport mean to me. 

When I was first introduced to climbing, I really didn’t embrace the idea or the lifestyle that went along with it.  But, before too long, I realized that I was a climber through and through.  I traded in my weekly manicures for trips to the rock gym; I swapped weekends at a hotel for weekends in a tent; I cut my long hair so it was less work when I didn’t have access to showers…and I met some of the greatest people I now know, people who will be lifelong friends.  

As a result of my most recent surgery, I still cannot climb – I cannot fully bend my toes, which is imperative when climbing, so I knew I would be sidelined for the weekend.  Though I knew that wouldn't be fun, I couldn’t see sitting at home this long weekend, and suggested that Brian and I join everyone in Kentucky.   My die-hard-climber husband obliged.

So, we spent this past weekend with some of our great climbing friends.  We hiked, ate pizza, climbed, and had far too much fun.  We were introduced to the game Pictionary Man, which become even more entertaining with a bottle (or two) of Malbec, and Brian and I found time to complete the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (we toured four of the six stops on some previous visits to KY).  Of course, we also climbed. 

Just prior to my surgery, I was at a point in my climbing career where I was again making great progress (after recovering from the previous year’s surgery).  I had climbed my hardest indoor route and was very close to sending [completing] my outdoor project.  By Saturday, our third day in Kentucky, I was really struggling to stay positive, and I couldn't think of much beyond my own disappointment. While sitting at the base of a climb, cheering for others, staring up at the wall and anticipating the next moves, I felt my eyes being to blur.  I realized I was fighting back tears.  Watching others do what I love to do was harder than I thought; no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t climb, and that was a painful realization.  It has been almost 12 weeks now, and I’m still recovering.  

As saddening as sitting out was, it was also the moment were I confirmed to myself that I couldn’t part ways with climbing.  I need to continue the healing process and I need to regain my strength and mobility.  I need to be able to climb again. Nothing is more satisfying than finding yourself at the top of an 80-foot wall and knowing that you made it to the top with nothing other than your own physical and mental strength.    I look forward to the moment where I can experience this again.

As I take this break from grading final exams, I am left with one final thought …
… We travel far and often always looking for another adventure; we spend the day on the wall, high above the safety of the ground; we have a language unto ourselves; we wear shoes that are a bit to small and tolerate the pain for the greater cause; we tweak fingers, break ankles and wear wounds as badges of honor.  We push ourselves and support our friends.   We are climbers...and I AM proud to be one.   

Distillery  tour 

Buffalo Trace - good times, great tour guide

Miguel's - Slade, KY 

Team ARock crossing the river - I didn't fall in, and I am so proud of myself for that
I always find myself shoe-deep in puddles when we're hiking
Rock climbing

My hiking buddy, Cassie

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