Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The good kind of soggy. Reminiscing on a wet season in New England.

"Uhh, dude. You realize you're going at the worst possible time."

So said my right-hand-man Tucker last winter as I returned haggard from a season chasing dreams and battling wind in Patagonia and detonated another gear explosion in his living room in Denver, frantically sorting things into piles for my impending drive east to Rhode Island the next day. Tucker grew up in New England, so he knows about the long winters followed by luscious "mud season", but I had a special lady arriving that afternoon to accompany me on the long drive to my winter residence; I was committed. Under the influence of love, the heart convinces the mind and body to do funny things.

My sole knowledge of the state of Rhode Island at that point had been bequeathed to me by a fellow geology nerd during college: "Rhode Island only exists to be used in size comparisons, like when a textbook will say 'the lava covered an area three times the size of Rhode Island' or 'a lake formed, six times larger than Rhode Island.' " This fact has since been verified in a John McPhee book and two recent incidents on NPR (I swear I'm not making this up), but the point is I drove 2500 miles from the land I consider Mecca to live in a place I knew next to nothing about, and through its twists and turns I'm grateful for the experience. It is good to make sacrifices for people we care about. It is good to change rhythms and see how other people walk their day-to-day. It expanded my appreciation of culture and the vastness of our country, and it forced me to find new points of beauty and rituals to take solace in. It also honed my gratitude for the blessings of living in the Rockies.

Of course, my appetite for adventure never subsides, and since I've learned to suck it up and wake up at 5AM on Saturday if that's what it takes, I was able to explore many of the amazing landscapes of New England with my special lady and new friends. Here's a tribute in photos to a season spent in New England. I may have gone a bit crazy-pants at times, but all things considered it was a good time, and I'm excited to explore more. In the autumn, when the leaves are a million colors and it's not rain/sleet/snowing every day.

Somehow the alpine schedule didn't stop in Patagonia. 30 hours into a 48-hour push from Colorado to Rhode Island, exhausted from swinging leads across the four-letter states, we pulled into a quick bivy behind a gas station. Caught a few zzzs and brewed up, Lilly takes the sharp end for the next pitch.

We wasted no time in heading up to the Mt Washington Valley Ice Festival, got to see some inspiring slideshows and sample some really fat ice. Photo Zac Hansen

30 degrees and one-sticks, what a treat. Photo Zan Hansen

Somehow convinced my lady to try ice climbing and she didn't hate it, even admitted kinda liking it! I made many thanks to the weather gods.

Rhode Island winter diversions. The first time I've paddled a canoe with snow on the banks. It was an incredibly pretty and peaceful experience.

The locals' beta: take a break off the river for a beer around the fire and warm your toes.

Back at Cathedral Ledge with a guy I met in the climbing gym parking lot. Craig starting up the classic Repentance.

The funky exit moves of Repentance require a hand jam I found quite rattly, even in gloves.

Craig stylin it.


photo Craig Muderlak

photo Craig Muderlak

A visit to one of Lilly's favorite beaches on the Maine coast

In Portland, even the graffiti is clever.

Ice in Maine

The amount of easily accessible waterfall ice in New Hampshire is stunning. Craig and I took a ramble around some cliffs across the river from a popular crag and found some gorgeous little gems.

The fruits of fermentation.

It's a big country, there are some things you don't really get in the Rockies. St. Paddy's, served up proper.

Unfortunately I was unable to dodge the objective hazards of crowded city life. First-world problems meet third-world traffic, and the Brave Little Toaster goes to the body shop again.

Approaching Cannon Cliff through some lovely morning sleet.

Craig scoping the line.

Craig starts up the Black Dike through spindrift.

Photo Craig Muderlak

Beginning the rock traverse. Photo Craig Muderlak.

Photo Craig Muderlak

Good times!

photo Craig Muderlak

Mmm, tasty post-holing. Photo Craig Muderlak

Just when I thought winter was going to last forever, the sun emerged. Finally, a chance to wake the jorts from hibernation.

Greeting the sun at a New Hampshire farmhouse

Sport whippin' on the amazing stone of Waimea, Rumney NH. Photo Craig Muderlak

The Gunks

Lilly feels High Exposure, the funnest 5.6 in the world.

My favorite view of Providence.

A nice spot for breakfast. The Prow, Cathedral Ledge.

Where is this guy even going? I was so confused. Turns out there be handholds on that there face.

Recompense, an old classic, and a good reminder that 5.9 is a grade you have to work for.

Lilly remembers how to layback.

Lilly styling the last pitch of the Prow.

Beautiful crag, beautiful stone.

How did I meet a woman who likes rock climbing and will put up with my antics? Am I still dreaming?

April showers finally brought May flowers

The Red River Gorge

Lush springtime in Kentucky

Gettin' stoked on a sweet tree.