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Category Archives: Crowders Mountain

Mom Guilt and Type 2 Fun…aka Making Lemonade

“Well, this sure is some slip-sliding fun!” I said with my best fake smile to both of my kids as we made our way down the gully to the base of the cliff.  We’d been hiking for about an hour along a trail that featured a steep incline, several hundred wooden steps, and LOTS of wet leaves.  Our pace had been slow but consistent, in a cold, misty drizzle that didn’t look like it had any intention of letting up any time soon, despite what the radar/forecast showed on my phone.  We were on our way to meet up with a photographer friend of mine who wanted to get some rad “climber amidst fall foliage” photos at our local crag.  Actually, we were supposed to have gone out there the day before… but had rescheduled for the following day since it was raining off and on and “conditions would be better tomorrow.”  (Said in quotes because conditions were in fact no drier, and 20 degrees colder.)  

But anyway, after I flashed my best fake smile to the kiddos there was silence for a couple of seconds.  Then my oldest looks up and says, “This is actually not that fun.”  He then proceeds to burst out laughing, at which point his younger sister quickly follows suit.  I wasn’t sure how to read his comment…He was right, of course.  Maneuvering around slick, leaf-laden rocks was “actually not that fun.”  But why were they laughing?  Their demeanor was genuine and silly, not sarcastic.  Perhaps the great alpinist Mark Twight’s famous words “it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun” can apply to children as well as grown-ups?

Our weather woes continued once we met up with Bryan Miller of Fixed Line Media, and our friend Robert, whom Bryan had somehow convinced to meet us out there.  “Splitter conditions, right?!?” Bryan said (now that WAS sarcasm.)  Conditions were downright miserable.  While it was no longer actively raining, the fog was so thick you could hardly make out any trees, let alone delicate fall colors.  But what else could we do…here we all were, and the rock was (mostly) dry and actually significantly warmer than the air temperature.  Let’s take some pictures! 

In case you were wondering, there are 335 stairs…we counted.

I got the kids established on their blanket, and passed out candy bribes food bags and some toys.  Surprisingly, no one had complained since way back when we first started hiking in (the little one ALWAYS takes a while to get her hiking mojo going.)  Everyone looked warm, happy, and in the process of being well-fed, so I decided to take a warm-up lap while Bryan rigged the ropes on the route he wanted to shoot.  

I was about halfway up when I heard a commotion coming from the kids’ area, followed by my oldest shouting up to me that his sister had peed in her pants.  I looked down to see my youngest with her pants around her ankles.  Sigh.  “Mommy, I’m cold!  I need you to snuggle me!”  she shouted pitifully, extending her arms up as high as she could, as if she could pluck me from the wall.  That’s when the mom-guilt started in…”Why are we out here?!?!?  What mother takes her children out in conditions like this!?!?” I berated myself inwardly while I outwardly tried to direct big brother to the bag of spare clothes on the ground (as my belayer patiently waited.)  

I lowered as soon as I could and put fresh clothes on my daughter (since of course the only step towards clean and dry clothes that had been made while I was up was the taking off of her shoes…which did NOT help with the cold situation.)  After dry clothes and the requested amount of snuggles it was time to shoot photos.  I managed to release myself from the snuggler’s grasp in exchange for my soft shell AND puffy jacket.  The route Bryan had chosen to photograph was Energy Czar 10d, for the aesthetics of it’s features, as well as the backdrop behind it (the latter of which was completely invisible at this point due to fog.)  He’d wanted me to do 2 laps, so that he could shoot from both sides of the route.  The route is not very tall, and I climbed fairly quickly, but by the time I was starting up on lap 2, youngest child was no longer satisfied with snuggling with the “mommy jackets.”  The mom-guilt continued to build.  I pictured my daughter lying on the couch in her therapist’s office as an adult, recounting the time I abandoned her on a blanket in the cold, wet woods to scale a cliff.  

Z’s demeanor improved dramatically the moment I got down, but only so long as she was attached to my lap, which made packing up difficult at best.  By the time we were ready to hike back out my inner monologue had me convinced that I was an unfit mother for my children and that DSS could potentially be waiting for me in the parking lot.  But then we started hiking.  

Within 5 minutes we were back at the soggy, leafy scramble that had sparked my “slip-sliding fun” comment.  The giggling started up again.  Along with some very melodramatic “whoa-oa-oa-oah’s!!!!!” that turned into even louder giggles.  Both children transformed into Mexican jumping beans on the wooden staircase, and by the time my wobbly knees got down to the wider, main part of the trail, they were “gone.”  Said in quotations, because I could clearly see my 3 year old about 30 feet away, standing very still behind a tree that covered up approximately one third of her body, with her eyes fixated on a large rock that had a suspicious flash of orange puffy exposed on the far side of it that looked remarkably like big brother’s jacket.

“WHERE DID MY CHILDREN GO?!?”  I speculated loudly as I kept walking.  More giggling ensued.  “I can’t find them anywhere?!?”  I said, and paused.  Wait for it….

“BOO!”  They jumped out from behind their respective hiding places like a flock of wild banshees, hooting and hollering in circles around me for a few moments before taking off again to find another place to hide.  And so the hike went, for the next 30 minutes.  Their grand finale was when they caught glimpse of our friends, whom we hadn’t waited for to hike out, knowing that they would catch up with us at some point.  Both kids dove into opposite directions off the trail into a drainage ditch.  The stayed there for several minutes as our friends approached, waiting for the perfect moment to reveal themselves.  The moment finally came, and the last section of hike before the parking lot was littered with laughter on all sides.  

As our friends drove away and I loaded my crew into the car, I looked at the two dirty, happy faces smiling back at me and my heart overflowed with gratitude.  Gratitude for these little people who turned what should have been a miserable afternoon into a happy walk in the woods.  Gratitude for the chance to make memories with these people, even especially the type 2 fun memories that we’ll retell again and again, maybe even to their children’s children one day.  And you know what?  As they chatterboxed the entire way home, that mom guilt started to slowly but surely fade away.  Clearly none of us were any worse for the wear after our wetter-and-colder-than-expected adventure.  In fact, one could make an argument that we were even better off!

When I remember to look at life through those gratitude lenses, I become a lot less worried about being (or rather NOT being) a perfect mom.  While I am a far from perfect mom, I can say without any doubt that I am the perfect mom for MY kids.  And while they are most definitely not perfect kids, they are the perfect kids for ME.  And I hope that we always help each other remember how to make lemonade out of those sour lemon kinda days!

Many thanks to Bryan Miller for the photos, Robert Hutchins for the belays, and to both for academy award winning death scenes after being shot by a 7 year old with a capgun…all 457 times.  All things considered, I’d say the pictures didn’t turn out half bad!  (Oh, and if you liked this, you might also like this one from the archives – “Type 2 Mountain Biking Fun with a 4 Year old.”)  

Related Images:

[See image gallery at cragmama.com]

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A “Fashion-able” Day of Climbing

Great times were had this weekend as we celebrated the Crag-Daddy’s birthday!  Our usual modus operandi is to gather as many folks as we can to climb at Dixon by day, then come back to our house and party by night.  After 4 consecutive years, however, this is the first time that the weather didn’t cooperate, and our day plans turned into a gym day for Steve, and a get-ready-for-the-party day for me (cue sad trombone.) Thankfully the weather dried up in time for Sunday though, which allowed us to enjoy a beautiful, albeit short, afternoon on local rocks at Crowders…Read the rest of this entry →

Spring Egg-stravaganza at Crowders Mountain!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a trip report.  That’s because it’s been just under a month since I’ve climbed outdoors.  Between cold and wet weather, a little guy’s birthday, and a (hopefully minor) knee injury, our weekends of late have been occupied with activities other than climbing.  So when the stars aligned just right last Saturday, our whole household was psyched!  For me, the tick list was non-existent.  My main goal was to test the knee out on some local rock before galavanting off to the Red River Gorge later in the week.  Oh yeah, and I wanted to do…Read the rest of this entry →

Hidden Wall: Where the Party’s At…

A lot of folks climb for years at Crowders Mountain without ever venturing over to the “dark side.”  Accessed from a completely different parking lot than the Main Area, Hidden wall is a small sport crag with a handful of short, classic lines, along with about a dozen link-ups and variations.  Most of the routes feature bouldery cruxes with long, burly moves on barely-there feet.  Local developer Wade Parker likes to refer to these scrappy grunt-fests as “blue-collar routes” – ie, for the working man (or woman ).  No room for dainty, tiptoe-ing technique – you’ve gotta be willing to fight for a send…Read the rest of this entry →

“Steady-Eddy” Ramirez and The Crowders Project

 As many of you know, my work on the Central Piedmont climbing guidebook I’ve been slaving over for the past year and a half is drawing to a close.  Almost all of the writing is in the publisher’s hands at this point, who is now working feverishly on the layout with the guy making the topo maps.  That being said, I just wrapped up the a final interview that will be featured in the Crowders section.  It’s an interview with a local climber who is wrapping up an inspiring endeavor, and since it had been a while since I’d posted an interview…Read the rest of this entry →

An Equal Opportunity Climbing Weekend

“I have a dream that one day bolt-clippers, boulderers, and tradsters will come together on my birthday and climb and eat pizza,” – The Crag Daddoo Well, maybe those weren’t his EXACT words, but in the spirit of the MLK holiday weekend, it was a reasonable paraphrase…and with that in mind we invited our friends from far and wide to celebrate Steve’s birthday this past weekend.  And we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather – highs in the 50′s without a cloud in the sky!  DIXON:  We kicked the 3 day weekend off on Saturday by converging at the Dixon School…Read the rest of this entry →

A Little Bit of Holiday Crankin’

Back in my pre-kiddo days, I was an elementary school teacher, and was accustomed to having a lot of time off over the holidays.  My hubby is blessed to get a decent amount of  vacation days at work, so he grew accustomed to taking off the same days that I had for Winter Break.  Now that I’m not working outside of the home anymore, he’s STILL accustomed to getting lots of time off at Christmas, so he saves up enough vacation days every year to take a full two weeks off over Christmas/New Year’s.  That means we have plenty of…Read the rest of this entry →

Slabster’s Lament 5.12a/b – The Lament is Over…

Every now and then a route deserves to be memorialized by a post all to itself. In the case of Heresy (5.11c) out at the Obed, it was because of my first impression of it when I first laid eyes on it, several years before I was strong enough to even think about sending it. With Dave the Dude (5.11d), it was because the line was just that good – not only was it a classic in every sense of the word, but it was a culminating finale to a fantastic trip in the Red River Gorge, and thinking about…Read the rest of this entry →

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