Monday, March 19, 2012

Scouting in the fog

"Okay, it should be about 500 feet that way."

Somewhere in the fog ahead, our target was a 100 foot wide clearing in the dense forest.  A talus field at the top of a small rise, it appeared from the aerial maps to contain three large boulders that I was sure would be worth the trip.  My mom was not nearly as confident as I was that I had remembered the map correctly.

As it turned out, the "500 feet" was more like 1250.  Fortunately we came across a network of small paths after a few hundred careful feet down the steep hill.  Not that it helped the visibility any.  In fact, the first path we followed paralleled the top of the rock field, just enough beyond the edge of sight that we continued on to explore other directions.  After well over an hour of searching, we were just considering giving up when the fog lifted enough to reveal a promising ridgeline.  Leaving the trail, I followed it to the top and found my rocks.  Which weren't as big as I'd hoped.

To be fair, the larger boulders that I had spotted could be climbed.  They just weren't the highballs that I'd anticipated, and not at all worth the approach considering the much better bouldering areas that we had passed on the way in.  So after carefully extracting myself from the jumbled rock and returning to the trail to find my mom, we set off to salvage the day with some bouldering.  Heading off toward another new area I've been visiting (more on that soon), we found that although the rock itself was dry, the thin layer of lichen was still just wet enough from the fog to be really slippery.  The swarms of bugs didn't help either.

Sometimes that's how it goes.  I love going out and looking for new things to climb, and for every trip that yields something exciting, another two or three turn out to be just a good walk in the woods.  But even one of those trips I consider to be a success from a scouting standpoint, if for no other reason than there's now one less area for me to wonder about.  Plus, just as one can't know light without knowing darkness, the experience of walking through the woods to a disappointing end makes finding good rock all the more sweet.  And there's so much of it out there to be found.

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