The Tackboard Climbs
Garden of the Gods - Colorado Springs, Colorado
They came after dark; Brian and I went up to the walk-in parking and I danced while we waited. Not long then, the headlights came around the hillside and my most favorite cousin and her friend arrived to join us at our campsite.
This was the most amazing thing. Introductions were made, and before long we were sitting around the campfire, talking through our next day and a half. Morning found us hunting for a parking space in the Garden of the Gods, but before too long we were slinging our ropes onto the sidewalk in front of the Red and White Spires, to claim our spot as climbers.
What a ride. I did the first lead of the trip/day, and made my way methodically up Potholes, checking everything out and looking for areas that might require advance notice to the rest of the group. I built a (clumsy) anchor, set up the rope for lowering, and there you have it. We were set!
It was so strange climbing there. Brian and I are largely accustomed to the crowd at the Gunks, which are mostly climbers or at least very educated spectators from the carriage path below, here we were belaying off the sidewalk while a sight-seeing crowd roved around. There were lots and lots of questions, a few “well you know, I could do that too, but I don’t have my gear with me”, and regularly, applause upon the completion of something outstanding. We received what felt like a lot of applause.
I took all the leads on the Red Spire, and Brian did the sketchy-as-all-hell lead on the White Spire. Jill and Andrew made brave passes at this face, but finally I cleaned it and we were off to the side of Kindergarten (grey) rock for some much lower-profile anchor building tutorials and (accidental) night slab climbs. Slab climbs! At night!
After all of that excitement, we were all too tired to even think of going back to camp to make a fire, so we headed down the street and had some delicious home-style cooking by the light of several imposing antler-chandeliers.
I talk in my sleep. It’s not really a secret, unfortunately. Anyone that has spent a night in the same room with me is usually warned beforehand, but this does not always make it any less disconcerting.
There’s Someone Standing Right There
I uttered in perfect levity. Not really profound, but apparently nerve-inducing when you’re camped on the side of a desolate mountain in a strange land while the coyotes circle and howl.
By the time he fell asleep, it was only a short time before it hit.
The entire tent wracked from top to bottom, as if forcibly wrestled from the ground by unseen forces. Fortunately/unfortunately his first instinct was to try and dive on top of me to save me. Unfortunately, I was not aware he was saving me and thought I was being smothered.
It was Just the Wind, but what a wind! It plagued us for the remainder of the night. Our poor tent, us within, was buffeted and twisted and pushed by every direction and force of wind that hillside could throw at us. We clung together in terrified silence. We are strong, but we already knew we could not endure this for the foreseeable future of nights that now lay before us like dark caverns filled with strange and powerful desert forces.
With the arrival of the sun came the cessation of the wind. Finally.
The day brought wondrous sights, a clear sky, and the new knowledge that what we had lived through in the night was highly unusual. We moved among the pillars of stone, the great fins of rock making a spine across the landscape. We exclaimed over every new sight, each new view afforded by hiking only a little further.
When we made our fire and roasted our dinner that night, in felt as though we had passed the test. We were accepted, we would be allowed to remain there in peace for a little while…
… upon waking up in a way-too expensive hotel on our first day of vacation and feeling like nothing from the day before had happened! We celebrated by eating the most massive breakfast at the IHOP across the street, and buying a pair of ice packs for my neck. Setting forth onto the road (making sure to avoid the Toll Road, good lord, who knew?), we entered into the most gorgeous landscape to drive through I have witnessed in such a long time. We headed south, keeping those mountains on our right as we ascended into the high desert. What a day!
Upon arriving at the center of town, we looked around and started laughing. Well! Here we are! And so it began.
I happened to have done a slight bit of research before our departure, and so we headed off in the direction of some eats at the IvyWild School. We were not disappointed. This rehabilitated haven of scholastic endeavors now lives a second life as one of the coolest co-op spots I have been to date. We wandered around, grinning at everything and everyone, and finally settled down at the bar for some coffee and an out-of-this-world pumpkin cupcake (the secret lies in not being too sweet).
Then we sallied forth to find our campsite…
What mountain! What plains! We were arrived and set up within the hour, on this lonesome slab of desert, just above the fort. After seeking out and finding the best grocery store I have ever had the pleasure of utilizing while in a strange city, we made dinner over the fire while the coyotes howled to Taps, from the fort below. Chills… and not from the cold.
Look at this crazy place we ended up at. Look at it. I took secret-agent style photos of Brian coming through the lobby from up here. I’m saving them in case I ever need to blackmail him. Or prove his whereabouts.
The One and Only day I needed there to be no traffic, there was an accident right in front of the exit I needed to get off of.
I nearly missed the only train I absolutely needed to catch, and just barely made it. But, I made it.
All of the other transfers were seamless; absolutely flawless. It was one continuous motion, from train to subway to subway transfer to SkyTrain to plane. It was as if we just moved through the world on one of those moving sidewalks. After landing at the airport, we were left standing on the cold grey sidewalk for over an hour while it misted cold spray down on us and a bus for every other rental car company passed by no fewer than three times. Finally arriving at the rental car company did not inspire much confidence either; there was one woman designated to provide service to two rental companies’ customers, and so it was at one in the morning that we were queued up with about twenty option-less and irate persons who didn’t know yet that most of them would not be leaving that evening. We were lucky to have been expeditious with our exit of the bus, and snagged the second-to-last car. Finally.
Arriving at the hotel we had booked a week in advance was no better. I had called earlier in the day to forewarn of our late arrival. “Why are you telling me this? Come whenever you want” was the terse response to my attempt at graciousness. It didn’t matter. When I arrived and sorted my way through the tumble of mis-parked tractor trailers and cigarette butts to be told by the careless woman at the front desk (over the din of several disheveled men snoring on couches in the lobby) that my reservation had been cancelled and she wasn’t going to accommodate us. There was no apology, not a single care. It was clear that it wasn’t even going to be worth discussing, so at two in the morning we set out on the road to find someplace that would let us pay them for the privilege of sleeping under their roof.
And this is how we arrived.
I am now fully returned home, and celebrated my first day back in NY by getting a massive raise and nearly losing my life at the Milky Chance concert.
The raise was more than amazing, and it certainly made for the best back-to-work day ever in history. At the concert, Brian and I were defending our positions while buffeted on all sides. Welcome back to NY, eh? I shouted while deflecting a hair-whip with my clutch. Nothing like it, he growled back, while shoving about three really drunk girls who were pulling on his shoulders back into the fray. Meanwhile, an all-out brawl between a forty year old mother and another teenager broke out on the other side of the stage. Later, I would be confronted with a drunken giant of a man who I had to physically remove from my presence, and this act was accompanied by much cheering and back-patting from the people next to us.
It was definitely one of the most physical/awful/douche-baggerific crowds I have ever been a part of, but hey! You don’t get to go front-row at a debut US show in NY without a little bloodshed I guess. Right? Right??
And now to finish up a gorgeous day at work while I sit and model-draft and nurse my bruises. I’d love to say it’s good to be back.