Sunday, September 23, 2018

An endurance climbing week.

(I wrote this August 2017 but didn't post until 9/2018)  .....


































Dudes have climbed some link-ups.  I desired to do something similar but different.  While I do have some first female ascents and female speed records, the media perceives these accomplishments differently.  They do.
So, I wanted to run around because I fucking love running around and because I kind of enjoy the meticulous nature of scheming and planning.  In 2015, I schemed a valley run around.  Inspired by many before me.  Bill Wright, Hans Florine, Chris Reveley, Harry Kent, Timmy O'Neil and Alex Honnold....to name a few, dudes.  

Summit of Washington Column
I asked a friend, she said yes.  She also became injured and tried to pull through....it wasn't worth it.  I begged Libby, she travels too much.  So I put it on the back burner.  I could find a dude to do it with, or find multiple partners but I really just wanted one female partner.  I asked a few but was hesitant.  This mission requires a level of boldness and competency.  Big walls shenanigans, efficient 5.10 climbing and confident 5.11 climbing.   In addition, you gotta hike efficiently with heavy packs after already big days in your week, and you have to laugh and be a bit strong headed....complaints are for later.
Great Roof!



I asked Josie Mckee.  She said yes.  

Alex Honnold and Dave Allfrey climbed 7 El Cap routes in 7 Days....a spin on this sounded fantastic!  The old Yosemite Big Wall book lists 8 BigWalls in the valley; El Capitan, Half Dome, Watkins, Lost Arrow, Leaning Tower, Liberty Cap, Ribbon Falls Wall and Washington Column.  Since I had planned this mission for May of 2015, when Lost Arrow is closed, I had my weeks worth, 7 walls.  When I mentioned it to Josie we both agreed that Ribbon Falls Wall, although fun, seemed a little out of the loop and I had always wanted climb Lost Arrow spire.  So we swapped the two and loosely made plans.   

I arrived to Yosemite Valley on October 2nd.  The weather was glorious, emotions we positive.  Josie and I didn't know each other very well, but have many mutual friends and a one outing in the mountains of Patagonia together.  I have struggled with partners in the past, and sometimes still do.  I am not the strongest of free climbers but I do consider myself to be lung oriented.  I almost would rather ski uphill and feel the iron blood taste in my mouth, then I would ski down hill, thighs burning.  I work in Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer months, ie, I run around at altitude all summer long.  I also have a pension for long-long days of movement.  I grew up swimming, running, biking, focusing on endurance and splits.  Climbing hard came second (which I have a growing fondness for).

Half Dome...diving board above
I digress.  I don't sit still, endurance sports are neat.  Running around the Valley sounded awesome.  Josie agreed and I believed she was a good match.  Some partners climb really hard but aren't as much into pushing their lungs.  Some are great at running around but don't have the big wall experience to swing around or confidence to cam hook, heel hook, into free moves.  Some like to suffer a little bit, then complain a lot a bit.   I like to giggle and snort but I also can be serious and lack confidence.  The perfect partner was someone who pushed me but allowed me to push them too.  You know those two teachers in school that were total contrast of one another?  One you just didn't connect to, despite their best efforts in praise or scolding or whatever it was.  Their delivery just didn't work.  Opposing, there was a teacher who you did connect with, pushed you, praised you and you were receptive.  Climbing partners work like that.  Mostly, to be honest.  I am a spaz and wish everyone would move faster hiking, on simul-climbing terrain (under 5.10) and at transitions.  They all wish I climbed harder and quit freeking out about our perceived pace.  

It was a fabulous adventure.  We were both tired on day 4, but I thrive sometimes in that perfect balance of tired but someone needs my support more then I need rest AND we have this awesome objective, so lets be supportive of one another!!  

By day 7 the rhythm was set.  I honestly felt I could have kept climbing.  Tired yes, but I wasn't maxed out.    Granted we joked about climbing the 8th big wall, Ribbon Falls, but opted to drink and hang with our friends by the campfire.  We hadn't hung out in a week.  We were so focused.  Climb.  Sort the rack, take care of personal hygiene (super important); soak feet and hands in river, shower, wash feet, wash face etc.  Then it was pack for the next day, drink a beer, make or eat dinner (the dudes were super helpful in this regard), go to bed, do it again.  



Saturday, September 1, 2018

judging





























Yup.  Life continues.  How crazy a phenonmenon!  To have been so quickly, so easily "lights-out."  I knew, we know, life is precious but to take and HAVE the time to reflect upon this scenario is wild.
I would not have known taking my last breath.

I did not want to end.

I was gaining pride in my body at 36 (finally), foolishly and highly critical of belly fat, fueling my need to exercise.   I was settling into my house, painting, gardening and even researching building a new home--shipping container or straw bale.  I had made sacrifices for my relationships, I had stopped teaching month long EMT courses in Seattle area, shortened climbing trips or planned them with my radical partner, even put some solo or bigger lady expeditions on the back burner.   At the end of last summer season, I was contemplating quitting the climbing ranger position, in part due to the sogginess of my romantic relationship, as well as, my personal/vocational goals.

Life continues to evolve.  Here we are now.







Hindsight is a muther truckin beotch.  I should not have driven to Yosemite, I should-coulda changed many behaviors in the month prior to my accident.  I should have stood-up, spoken up and listened up to myself.  I still feel like an idiot, a selfish- driven- fool, and now an unattractive cripple!  Yea, I am fully aware how lucky I am....but my trauma is my own, as silly as it seems.  Same as whatever you got going on, its all yours as mundane as it may be.  No one can take it away or diminish it.  The questions is, how do we deal with it?  How do we move on?

I don't have the answer to these questions.  I also don't feel like I get a free pass because of my continuous emotional and physical pain....I should still try hard.

Yup.  I am negative.  Yup.  I am in pain.  Yup.  I can't feel when I have to pee or my legs....aside from the constant dissociative nerve pain.  Yup, I can't run in the mountains like I used to.  I can still make a mean banana bread, skunk you in a game of cribbage, engage in a meaningful conversation, support loved ones, enjoy wine and sunsets, paddle board, kayak, and bike across wilderness.  I can do things.  I just hope that I haven't isolated myself from too many people with my negative attitude.  I get so pissy when people ask, "you live alone?" or when they stare or call me inspirational for wheeling on a dirt path.   

We are all dealing with something.  Who I am to judge?  If only I could transpose that thought into my undesirable self-image or my feeling like a failure.   True friendships and relationships, with others and ourselves, go beyond the physical realm.  So easy to say, I knew this before...but clearly wasn't putting valuable time and effort there.  How do we treat ourselves with compassion?  Truly?   




Saturday, July 28, 2018

July ....Currently...





Lets see.  Update.   My mood today is mellow. Surprising, as I have been quite angry lately. I am settling into a life rhythm of everyday pain, streaks of loneliness, dabbles of laughter and a 'critical dis-satisfaction of routine.'   

I receive some random but INCREDIBLY kind emails from strangers.  I received one last night that made me laugh.  Thank you.  I am going to share a quote from it......

"My fear is that I might say the wrong thing or too cliche. Yet when I was mulling over, I considered if I were in your shoes, what would I need? The answer, I don’t fucking know, but probably love, support, a handful of bumbling idiots that mean well, one of those friends that is wildly optimistic that you really appreciate but often consider punching in the face, and an actual punching bag."

All of that is true.  

My intentions were to share things about Spinal Cord Injury...I guess I can and still delve further into the feelings mentioned above.


Pain.  Well, to start, physical pain.  It feels like if I were wearing low-rise jeans that are on fire but also compress my legs like a refrigerator.  I am burning all-day-every-day.  When you see me sitting in my chair across the room smiling.....I am also burning and in pain.  Some days it is a 3/10.  Other days it is 7-8/10.  Those days I am obviously more irritable.  

Mental pain.  That is a fucked up one.  I am angry right now.  Angry I went to Yosemite.  Backing into that hindsight of my mood driving out there....heart and mind confused.  I shouldn't have left Estes Park this fall.  I was in the mood to trail run.  I was in the mood to make my home more of home.  I was inappropriately giving space, credit and hope to what I thought were integral parts of my life.  I was wrong....charging away instead of facing them directly.   Josie and I drove up to the Meadow in Yosemite Valley that day conflicted, confused, obligated, habituated.  Dealing with that...moving forward with my decisions, my personality, ME -- is a difficult task. 

Leading to loneliness....or tying into loneliness....and the mundane routine.  I wake up, alone usually still fatigued.  I sleep 3-7 hours a night, depending on the nerve pain levels, muscle spasms (more on those).  I try to swim every other day, at least.  If I swim.  I swim 500-1000 meters.  Nothing fancy as far as 'training' goes.  I go to work for a few hours (Rocky Mountain Conservancy...not National Park Service).  Tuesdays I drive down to Denver, leave the house at 7am, do some PT, have meetings, get a massage (usually), home by 8pm.  Off to bed, alone.  I am not afraid of alone, in the moment.  I miss particular partner comforts of the past.  Something that the future should give hope to, but I don't accept myself currently...so how would anyone else.  

I am cynical of the new routine.  Impatient.  Surprise surprise.   I have a few friends who have rallied to do st(roll)'s around the basic lakes of Estes Park; lily, sprague, bear and lake estes.  A few trails have been explored as well.  I still wait for my bike, news is it is JUST finished!  

I miss being red in the face and breathless from running uphill.  






  



  

Saturday, June 16, 2018

....Paralyzed....


Climbing one-and one.  Climbed Petit, Saber,  Sharkstooth this day.  Dropped one shoe between Petit and Saber.  Carry-on

It seems ridiculous that I haven't used my legs in half of a year.  What an odd phenomenon this injury is.  Legs, still in tact... still having muscles that respond to stimulation, muscles that even move on their own involuntarily.

My brain and its positivity are directly associated with my nerve pain.  When that shits off the hook so are my emotions.  I am not as engaged in conversation, grumpier.  I think my physical coping mechanisms are getting stronger but imagining another 20-30 years of this is is beyond me, on those days.

My legs sit idle.  Something I, as an athlete and spaz, struggled with doing before....now it's unreal.

My brain is also paralyzed at times.  I feel I am stuck on the past, dwelling.

I have extended myself, as per usual.  Filling my time time with people, travel, writing and habitually attempting to keep the twirling game on ... that I was exceptionally good at before.  I am finding, though, that a slower pace is actually preferred.  I am exhausted mentally and physically (don't tell anyone.) 

Friendships have changed, are still changing.  I was known as the "yes "girl to adventures.... I am no longer capable of plunging into the mountains or the ocean like I used to.  Not yet anyway.  So, some friends have become distant.  Some haven't renewed the lease on our friendship since my accident.  Perhaps unsure what or how to deal with me.  Perhaps afraid.  Perhaps angry at me.  Perhaps trying to give me space to ... to... to ...?

This accident, I am well aware, has affected more then just me.  More then my family.  For some reason my accident touched my local community, my climbing community, and strangers alike.  I am grateful for the new friends I have made, given the circumstances of our new predicament.  A reminder of how much we take for granted.  Our lives, my life, even now.  Life.  To be alive.  Geez, it could have lights-out in an instant.  I wouldn't have even known.  I would be---could be gone.  Same for you.

I have been forced to reflect upon that lately.  I release my anguish on you with writing, hoping, spraying, reminding myself.  I am afraid of myself, my vanity.  I am lonely.  I am hurt.  My heart aches.  My ego is paralyzed with feeling embarrassed, of my mistake, my failure, my moaning.




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Home?



I have returned to Estes Park, more or less full time.  The 7 month unexpected road trip has come to a close.  To be home is lovely, the fresh air (that I still can't smell), the view and the community that I love.  I am still down in Denver at least once a week for PT etc.  A friend up here has offered up time to do PT and another to massage. I also try to swim 2-3 times a week at the community center and st(roll) around some local trails that are accessible. 

It was, and still is, incredible difficult knowing the Climbing Ranger staff has returned and is back frolicking and assisting others in the mountains I love.  I have climbed Longs Peak so many freeking times, but staring at it down here...all I want to do is climb it again.  Lumpy Ridge brings the same sentiment.  Old habits die hard.

Geez.  It makes me wonder how I will do here.  If this is home?  I love it here, I love my community here.  I have developed these friendships and extensive knowledge of these mountains in the sixteen years that I have been here.  
Difficult imagining anything different.  This accident has proven though, that sometimes we are thrust into difficult decisions.  Maybe none of the options are good choices, but we make one and must deal with outcome regardless.  

I feel guilty for choosing my fall adventures as I did, given my head wasn't in the game.  I feel angry for not listening to myself.  I feel embarrassed to have made a mistake.  I feel like a failure.  I feel overwhelmed that my accident has affected so many.  Only I am in control of these negative emotions.  Only I can choose to move on.    

I feel lucky to be back in Estes Park.  
  
I have started work with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy.  A non-profit that supports the National Park through project funding and educational experiences in the public land its mission is to support.  I think it will evolve into a lovely fit.  

Things will keep changing.  I will keep breathing for a little while longer.  I am learning many new ways of coping.  Coping with the nerve pain that persists in my body on a daily basis.  Coping with a new life of sitting, where I could run- climb- swim - hike - move to resolve difficult emotional times.  Coping with a new body that I am slightly ashamed of.    Next step.  Accepting.

Friday, May 4, 2018

nymph of the future

When I started Dovetail Mountain Adventures in 2010, my intentions were to infect others with optimism in their choices.  Yoga invites us to sit with uncomfortable feelings, striking poses that are difficult ...holding them for longer then our usual convenient threshold.  We learn to find a calmer breath in the difficult moments, calming the eyes and the soul.  We learn to communicate to our body the important aspects of pain, frustrations, or conversely comfort and joy in the most efficient of ways.

I thought creating Dovetail was an excellent platform to join groups of people, connecting them to trendy yoga and now very trendy rock climbing.   Rock climbing, for me, was more then the physical strife or extravagant vista.  I enjoyed, and sucked terribly at, finding breath, clarity, motivation, communication ...the rapid chess game.  I was challenged.  

The next step for me, the infectious part, was to build the confidence of Dovetail participants not only with physical endeavors but hopefully with daily life endeavors. 

Communication in their relationships, frustrations with vocation, and joy within themselves.  Sift through the bullshit nitpicking, simmering on over-blown disagreements.  Realizing that life IS a gift, love and respect fosters creativity.  Anger can certainty fuel motivation and clarity of situations but a breath needs to find its way between the emotion and the spoken word.

yadda yadda yadda.  This accident has me striving for that movement...the release from my brain...the release from dwelling on "what if's."  Dwelling on feeling like a failure. Dwelling on the past and the person I was striving NOT to be before, selfish, naive, stupid, ungrateful.  

Ironic I am now forced to sit.  Sit with the uncomfortable pose that life has currently thrust at me.  



What lesson would I teach myself?   

I am struggling with my current pose.  I think we all have struggles in our position... feel alone.  I am learning, that we are.  Only I can control my emotions, can control my actions, can control the presence I convey to others.  Others are doing the same dance in their own space at their own pace.  Be friends or be it partners.  To paraphrase Plato's Symposium, we have been divided into two in order to maintain a humble nature.  We strive to find our other half.  When we are lucky to find that other half, we feel like we are back to our original self.  This, is love.   
When we find comfort with ourselves, we can give comfort to others and venture further into our pose, into our minds.  My dance, next to your dance....is us dancing together.    

To find joy in the small moments.  To remember that although I am not doing a handstand on a mountain summit, I am breathing.  I can SEE the summit of Longs Peak, remember parts of the Park that I know better then the hair on the back of my legs.  I should be grateful for the running around, the failures, the incredible experiences with friends and strangers I have had in those granite nooks and gneiss crannies.     

I have found a new threshold and am trying my hardest to breath.  There is pain.  There is overwhelming embarrassment and frustration.

One day there will by joy, love, and comfort with this pose.     

Saturday, March 31, 2018

twirling

I struggle writing and sharing because I feel like a big ball of bitching, whining negativity.  No longer am I crafting a way to share my latest adventure in the hills.

As spring blossoms, I am still an inside creature.

Inside a house and inside my mind.

I struggle with feeling alone.  Friends are amazing but they go home at night.   I miss a shoulder to snuggle, meaningful doting and embrace.  My partnership had waves of difficulty in the last year before this accident...players at different life spots.  I was at a point in my life ready to participate and work for our relationship, knowing it covers the gamut of moods and experiences.  I failed.

He is an incredible human, someone I still adore.  That is my problem.  To be heartbroken continues to be my problem.  Would my hurt be the same if I hadn't had this accident?  Yes, I would be heartbroken, but I would have more confidence in finding another....more confidence with myself.  Maybe.   

Timing.

This injury, its timing, is odd.  Patience with myself and my future is incredibly stressful....a challenging task at best.  I wondered about my job future, my relationship future, was even tiring of climbing a little bit....WHAT?....I know, I would baby shake myself when that thought entered.  (yea, I say that phrase).  But its true.  I felt obligated to climb because it is how I twirled my time for the last 20 years.

Learning.

I am about 6 months out from my injury.  Every other day I am a mess...and even the good days I am a mess.  My nerve pain is a mildly consistent pain one day, and the next is like a refrigerator is sitting on my legs with occasional lightening bolts in my hips.  I am learning to sit with pain, with discomfort.  I thought I was a grit-filled lady before...I guess not enough.

Vulnerability.

Instead of sharing the feeling of sandstone abrading my elbows or coating my sweaty brow, I share the moaning of my heart and the twinging of my lifeless legs.

What I write is dark, maybe even from a depressed mind set but I am leaving it on the table.  I won't be this way forever.  Life has thrown me against a wall...literally.  I wished for change, but hesitated chasing it.  I wanted a long-term relationship but didn't communicate my needs directly enough......  I also optimistically misconstrued some words and actions to favor my own desires.


Here we are now.



I thought after Andrew's death I found some semblance of coping, learning, and loving.  This accident has proven my growth is not complete.  How do I do better?  My idea of body image has changed, I do not feel beautiful or capable.  Learning to accept....wow...seems unfathomable right now.

My habit of "playing cool" but not actually communicating my needs....to friends and lovers (yes, I can still have sex, enjoy sex, even birth a little monkey... if desired) is already changing, I hope for the better!!!

My inability to sit still prior to this accident, translating to some insecurities or fear of being inside the mind......Well shit.  Now I am givin'r!