When February hands you a gorgeous, sunny day and your friends/neighbors text you to see if you want to go rock climbing, you cancel all other plans and go.
Or at least, that’s what we did last weekend.
With an hours notice, we packed up our gear, Little Bear, and our best crag dog Moose and hit the road to Crowder’s Mountain State Park- about 40 minutes West of Charlotte.
It was a popular day with the parking lot being packed. The boys dropped off the girls and the gear and dropped the car off at a homemade shuttle stop where some enterprising neighbors were allowing people to park in their yard and shuttling them to the park for a nominal fee.
After a delicious lunch brought along from our neighborhood haunt, The Bodega, we began the short but steep hike up the Backside Trail. Crowder’s Mountain is often nicknamed ‘Crowded Mountain’ and on Saturday, it was living up to the hype. The view at the top was filled with hikers enjoying the sunny day, and all of the easily accessible climbing spots were taken. We ventured along the blue blazed path, teetering precariously on the top of the mountain to a more hidden climbing area. Once there, we began setting up camp and anchors. Our friends brough their Eno hammock, and we alternated between climbing and relaxing.
Moose roamed the area, taking great care not to lay on the rope this time – a problem we’ve had with her in the past. Little Bear slept on whoever was holding him, oblivious to the adventure he had joined. Brandalyn and I talked and dreamed about outdoor gear we wish was available, and dreamed up a product list of items we should create a company to make.
It was my first time climbing since last July, and my body wasn’t ready for it. My hands and forearms quickly got sore, and my shoes reminded me that I hadn’t cut my nails quite short enough for comfort. Two attempted ascends resulted in failure for me. While disappointing, it was a healthy reminder that it will take time for my body to accomplish what it used to, and that I need to build back up my strength and endurance. Everyone else had great climbs, with David, Brandalyn, and Matt reaching the top of the wall several times.
The beautiful day brought with it incredibly strong winds – the only downside to the day. When we packed up to hike out, all of our possessions were covered in a layer of dirt from the wind throwing it around. A long, tiring afternoon in the sun was rewarded with a stop at Tony’s Ice Cream – a Gastonia staple that I grew up with and was eager to introduce our friends to.