I’ve lived out of my (and by my, I mean my sister’s) H frame backpack twice and learned valuable lessons about packing with each trip. In 2010 it was for a one month trip to Hawaii. During my Hawaii trip, I learned that make up is unnecessary. To most people, this seems obvious. But, to a citified gal, this may seem unnerving. Turns out I got citified, but didn’t realize it until I was sitting on a farm on the Big Island, embarrassed by the fact that bronzer and mascara were in my toiletry bag. Yes, I brought bronzer to Hawaii. I am now stretching the last of my mascara through the last of our summer weddings and parties and can’t wait to dump it in the garbage before we ship out. In 2011, Zach and I took a week long backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. While schelping the contents of my backpack up and down the mountains, I learned that you don’t need to carry 4 shirts when you can get away with just taking 2 and washing them as needed. I’m catching on.
A. Hiking Boots
B. Flip Flops
C. Bunch of underwear
D. Bandana, bathing suit
E. Sports bras
F. 2 Tshirts, 1 tank top
G. 1 long sleeve, 1 sweatshirt, 1 denim button down that I can’t live without
J. A dress
K. Mesh shorts, Jean shorts, Jeans
N. Sleeping bag
O. Fleece and Rain Shell
P. Kindle, Journal
Q. Spork, Leatherman, headlamp
R. Pack towel, camp stove
*Not pictured: first aid kit, toiletries, slackline, computer, guide book, camera, chargers
The good news is that it all fit in my backpack. Okay, well I didn’t feel like taking the tent out, but Zach and I are going to split it up and I’m pretty sure it will fit. We will also be bringing day packs for shorter jaunts, to be worn front ways like a marsupial baby while we travel to and from the airport.
The bad news is that we have a ton of stuff to put in storage and to ditch. Ebay and Goodwill, prepare thy selves! Friends, come drink the contents of our liquor cabinet!
“Ohmigod you’ll LOVE it there,” a friend on my recent climbing trip said when I mentioned that I was heading to New Zealand in a few short weeks. This is not entirely uncommon. It seems as though every third person I meet and talk to long enough for this to come up (or maybe I’m so excited I just launch right in and bash them over the head with it?) has some strong connection to NZ. Either their sister is WWOOFing now, their college buddy spent a summer surfing on the south island, or as was the case this recent evening, they lived there in the flesh for nearly a decade. I’ll take all suggestions, but this was someone whose arm I’d happily twist for the inside info.
Here’s what I ended up with on the to-do list, roughly from South to North:
- Mueller Hut Trek on Mt. Oliver
- Stewart Island
- Abel Tasman waterway by kayak
- The Remarkables
- Milford Sound
- Climbing at (the?) Darrens
- Milford Trek (7 days)
- Heafy Trek
- Fox Glacier
- Bouldering at Castle Hill and Flock (?) Hill
- Cave Stream (bring headlamp and thermals)
- Climbing at Takaka and Pains Ford (near Nelson)
- Mt. Aspiring National Park
- Fairwell Spit
- Te Papa (in Wellington)
- Eat the brioche at Fidel’s in Wellington
- Surfing at Pomston, New Plymouth, Gisborne, Napier
- Lake Taupo
- Great Barrier Island
- Waitomo Caves (glow worms)
- Pancake Rocks
Let’s see how many of these things (or more!) that we do.
I spent three days last week tramping around in the rainy woods of New Hampshire’s White Mountains — and loved every minute of it. Sure, I would have preferred sunshine, but I’m happy to say we made the absolute best of a bad situation. When you hit an unexpected bump in the road, you can’t just throw up your hands and give up; you roll with it.
I’d been looking forward to this trip, three days of sport climbing at Rumney Rocks with nine friends from Brooklyn Boulders, for weeks. So I was more than a little disappointed when the forecast called for persistent rain all week. We thought of postponing the trip, but some of us (including me) had jumped through hoops to get these days off and couldn’t easily reschedule. So we went for it, and our faith paid off.
Rumney is one of the premiere sport climbing destinations in the USA. Most of the routes were established in the late 80s and early 90s, though some even more recently. It’s best known for some classic climbs of 5.11 and above, but has solid routes all the way down to 5.0.
On Monday, June 4th, I rose well before dawn to meet the group in nearby Williamsburg. My neighborhood was still bustling from the previous night as I strode, dreary eyed but filled with adrenaline, to the subway. This is something wonderful and unique about New York City. Even on a Monday morning the previous night’s revelers mix with the early morning laborers on their way to another day. We quickly packed the cars, discussed our route and set off for points north. About an hour into the five hour ride the rain began. Too late to turn around now.
We arrived at 10:30am, and while the rain had stopped for the moment, we knew the rock would be wet for the rest of the day. Our spirits, however, were not dampened. We checked in to our accommodations at the wonderfully rustic and perfectly convenient Common Cafe, grabbed a quick and delicious egg sandwich, and set off to scout out some routes. A few of us had been climbing here before, and suspected some areas might be overhanging enough to stay dry regardless of the rain, and they were right! We were able to climb portions of routes at the Orange Crush wall, including a classic route by the same name.
I can’t say our first day was totally satisfying, but we got out there and got loosened up, which was far more than I expected as we hiked up to the crag in the driving rain. We got a taste!
We awoke to the blissful silence of dry weather, and while the sun didn’t fully cooperate, we were beyond grateful for this small gift. Tuesday was our only full day here, and if we were going to be lucky this was the time to cash in our karma.
After a lazy morning we hiked our gear up to the New Wave wall and discussed our options. There were dry-ish climbs, but they were all 5.11 and above — not exactly in my wheelhouse, especially for a warm-up. But a few of the stronger climbers in our group wanted to give it a whirl because we’d hiked a decent distance up to it, so we split from them and headed to the Meadows area and the Parking Lot Wall. Here we found a trove of solid 5.7-5.9 climbs ranging from 40 to 70 feet and mostly dry. Hallelujah! We set up shop and busted out the gear.
Climbing highlights for me were sending my first full lead climb on the long and slightly damp Glory Jean’s (5.6). It was juggy and had clear beta, save for a tricky hand traverse and awkward top out. At about 65 feet it was the perfect first lead: got my heart pumping and tested my resolve, but didn’t present a technical challenge.
After a nice rest and a few shorter climbs I hopped back on the sharp end and (with plenty of beta from my belay partner) successfully led Egg McMeadows (5.10a). Maybe I was feeling energized by the improved conditions, but if you told me I’d lead my first climb (inside or out) and a 10a in the same day, I wouldn’t have believed it. To put it mildly, I was feeling good.
Our plan for our last day in Rumney was to climb for the first half of the day and head home after lunch. Unfortunately, that was not in the forecast. Soon after we woke the rain began again. After staring at the darkening skies for a few hours, we decided to bag it and get a head start on the trip home. My plans to work on Jolt, a classic 100 foot 5.10b, were dashed. On the bright side, this left us enough time to rendezvous back at Brooklyn Boulders to scratch the itch once more before we officially split up!
If I ever doubt my love for climbing again, I’ll remember this trip and the incredible experience I had in the face of huge disappointment. I can’t wait for next time.
If you prefer cheap, cozy, and convenient to sparkling clean and luxurious, stay at the Common Cafe for $25 per person per night without linens or $35 with linens. Their main business is the adjacent cafe where you can get a very good breakfast. The smoothies ($5) are delicious and a meal alone. They also serve lunch, though we packed our own. A limited selection of climbing essentials is also available for purchase upstairs. Staff was very accommodating and welcoming to us city folk. The Rumney Climbers Association has a nice list of other options.
Plymouth, New Hampshire is about 10 minutes away by car and has nearly everything you might have forgotten. Walmart and a Hannaford grocery store are well stocked. Thai Smile is an excellent dinner option. The Drunken Noodles ($12) were perfectly spiced and satisfying, and the Tofu Triangle ($5) appetizer was also very good.
Parking ($3 per day) at the crag was no problem for us, but if you’re going on the weekend I heard it fills up fast. Get their early. There are two lots a few hundred feet apart with about twenty spots in each. If you don’t get a spot there you’ll have a long walk to the crag.
This morning was a traumatic one. Harriet, our cat, moved out. She went to Baltimore, to stay with our friend Allie, while we explore the other side of the world. Harriet is a great pet, but a terrible traveler. She yowls at the top of her cat lungs, foams at the mouth, poops all over the cage and tries to break free. This time around, I got kitty drugs from the vet. The plan was to crush them up and mix them into wet food, which is gourmet treat for the Hairball. If she ate the food at 9:00 am, the drugs would kick in my 9:30, and we would slide the comatose kitty into her cage for a 4 hour nap to Baltimore. No drama. Yeah right.
When I opened the can, she was ecstatic, all happy meows and leg rubs, but she knew something was up as soon as she sniffed her supposed treat. Maybe it was the hot pink powder, or the smell of meeds. She didn’t eat it. We cleared the kitchen, pretended nothing was up, and hoped she would eat. But, she didn’t.
It is now 9:15 and my parents were planning on leaving at 9:30. My sister had a flight to catch. Mom tells me this is where it gets tricky and unpleasant and I can tell by the tone of her voice that she knows way more than I do. She tells me to wad up the food, open Harriet’s mouth, put the food in, past her tongue and hold her mouth closed. Then to massage the food down her throat. Sounds unpleasant? The reality was horrendous. I held her body and paws with one arm and tried to get the food into her mouth with the other. Harriet’s agenda was quite the opposite of mine: squirm free and don’t eat the poison food. The result? Wet cat food all over my arms and legs, the kitchen floor, flung on the walls, and mashed in her pretty white fur. My kitchen looks as if someone turned a blender full of cat food on without the lid. The worst part though, is that she still hadn’t ingested the meds. And it was time to go.
My legs were shaking and the cat was miserable, but I could not send her without these meds. Right when I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t get food in the cat (though quite successful in getting it on the cat), Mom came through to the rescue. I held the cat as Mom opened Harriet’s mouth and wedged a pill in. She held her mouth shut and massaged her throat with the other hand, coaxing the pill down, whispering nice things to Harriet as we all sat in a mess of 9 Lives Chicken and Gravy. “Mom is the Cat Whisperer,” Clare said quietly as I held her and mom worked her magic. Thanks, mom. REALLY, couldn’t have done it without you.
Despite being freaked out, Harriet didn’t scratch or bite the whole time. The meds kicked in and Clare reported that she nodded off while they got on I-95 and headed south. Twas a rough morning, but necessary. Big things lie ahead, and with the cat taken care of, we can go get ‘em.
See ya later, Hairball. I’m going to miss you, but I shall see your little, squishy self on the other side!