"The most beautiful mountain in the world? There are three: El Capitan, Cerro Torre, and the Watzmann, which is a peak outside my home in Berchtesgaden. When I finally see the Watzmann again, after being away on a big expedition, I know that I am home. I know that I am alive." -Thomas HuberA wise friend once explained to me that the world is divided into linear and circular people, with many successful couples being composed of one of each to balance each other out. The linear person often accomplishes more in a given amount of time, finding pride in their ability to move quickly from one activity to another. The circular person finds activities to be complete only when things have returned to a perceived natural state. Given the example of cooking, this can be seen as the dishes left to be cleaned later as a separate task, or those cleaned immediately after use even if the food has not yet been consumed. Both equally valid approaches, but often requiring a bit of initial navigation for those unused to seeing the other way.
Apparently I'm a circular person, albeit with a few linear tendencies. Just as I find the natural end of cooking to be returning the dishes to the cabinet, the natural end of a vacation is the reentry into life at home. Or in my case as a teacher in mid-August, the natural end to two months of doing whatever I want is the impending reality that I actually have a job and will have to think about something other than climbing!
It can be easy to be saddened by the end of a trip, which is why even when I'm away and enjoying every moment, I pause occasionally to remind myself of the things I love at home. I've also developed a tradition of returning from trips and heading immediately to Frisco Tap House, usually before I've even been to my house. No matter how much fun I've had elsewhere, when I walk into a place with good food and beer, where I'm guaranteed to see many of the friends I've missed, it reminds me immediately how much I love my life here.
As I was driving back from the west, I was also able to have a pre-homecoming of sorts, stopping at Coopers Rock in WV for a visit to one of my favorite boulders. Although pretty much everything in the forest is good, I especially enjoy the Picnic Table boulder for a quick stop if I'm driving through the area. Less than a minute from the parking, it has an outstanding variety of slopers, pinches, and jugs, and several great problems that combine fun roof climbing with tricky topouts.
I warmed up with a few laps on Mushrooms, one of the best "easy" problems in the forest, and a great intro to slopers. After that I briefly considered working on Golden Path before deciding instead to go down and do the unnamed problem at the other end. Good holds through the roof lead to a fun sloper and finger slot on the face, with a big throw to another sloper and a tricky topout to finish it off. Despite the lack of name, it has been one of my favorites ever since my first Coopers visit, and I think it was actually the first project I ever had. I also took a couple shots at Humpy, another great roof problem with fun holds and a topout that lives up to the name. Somehow I've never been able to send both Humpy and the unnamed problem in the same day, and although that proved to be the case again this time, the rest of the problem is so fun that I didn't really mind the falls.
Below is a short video I put together of the three problems, and I'm looking forward to more good visits there this fall. If I can talk anyone else into heading out there with me that is. Anyone?