We arrived at Smith Rock State Park in the evening with enough time to set up our tent, make a quick MRE for dinner and polish off a bottle of wine. Our campsite view was incredible, overlooking the valley of the park and we could even see bald eagle nests along the ridge. Clear skies were a welcome sight having just come from snow/rain in northern Oregon.
In the morning we woke up early enough to get a full day in of hiking and sight-seeing at Smith Rock State Park. Carly hoped to get some climbing in too. Apparently this park is known for being a climbing friendly park and people from all over the country go there to check it out. I have no experience climbing so just figured if Carly got the chance, I’d gladly take pictures and videos for her and stay safe down at the bottom. We got on our hiking gear, packed water, Carly’s climbing gear, and had her pup Jax ready to go. I’m not going to lie, the wine the night before and a nagging cough made it tough for me to get going. As we started our descent down to the valley where the trails were, I was really struggling. Carly offered me a sip of her Guyaki Yerba Mate Lemon Elation and it was immediately a game changer. I ended drinking the rest of it. Not only was it refreshing but gave me a needed energy boost so I wasn’t holding back Jax and Carly all day.
After about 15 minutes into our hike, we saw these two guys taking turns climbing a route, spotting each other. We stopped to say hello and got to talking when they offered if Carly wanted to climb the route and they would spot her. She jumped on that immediately and got all geared up and strapped in to climb. I took my spot, getting the gopro ready and Canon DSLR camera ready for some candid pictures and videos. Jax was the smartest of the bunch, sitting in the shade taking a nap while Carly got her climb on. She completed it rather quickly and as badassly as I had expected. I’d seen her boulder before in the first part of our road-trip so knew she had some experience at climbing. When she got down, being generous and friendly, the two men offered to spot me while I climbed. I explained that it was okay, I’ve never climbed before but thanked them for their graciousness. That’s where Carly came in and gave me the nudge I needed. She is always great at pushing me outside my comfort zone. She explained to me that she had a second pair of climbing shoes that I could wear that had recently been re-soled and that I could use her harness. I was quite nervous and timid but did really want to try and be as bad ass as her so I put on the shoes, harness, and chalk bag and got clipped in.
To reiterate, I have literally no experience climbing so this was sure to be interesting. Carly wasn’t lying when she said to keep the hands chalked up. It really made a world of difference for grip. I had no clue how to start the climb which was probably the most challenging part. Once I found a spot for my first foot hold and a place for my hands, I started to make some progress. It took so much concentration and studying the rock to figure out the next best spot for hand and feet placement. I loved trying to figure out the problem as I went and was immediately addicted to it. I made it to the top, not nearly as quickly as Carly but hey it was my first climb after all, so I’ll take it! Once at the top I realized that I had to come down. This was something I had really not paid much or any attention to when Carly came down so was a bit concerned. The guy spotting me at the bottom was trying to explain how to hold the rope and that I was going to have to repel down. Now I’ve seen people repel before and it always looked so easy but doing it firsthand it was not as easy as it looked. I started off holding the wrong part of the rope for the first 10 feet or so. Then I could hear Carly telling me to grab the other part of the rope. Once I got the hang of it I was smooth sailing the rest of the way down.
When I got the bottom, I felt such a joy and feeling of accomplishment. My decision had been made. This climbing thing was going to be a new hobby of mine and I couldn’t wait for Carly to teach me more about it. I’m so thankful that she pushed me outside of my comfort zone to do my first climb. There is no turning back now. I just hope they have a decent enough climbing gym for me to join in Chicago because one thing’s for sure, there aren’t any mountains or even hills in the big city. That way next time Carly and I adventure, I’ll be more prepared to climb some real rock again! So addicted already!