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  • Long Trip Day 5:

    We had to get up real early in the morning, about six. We all groaned at the earliness of it all, and the coldness. But today was different. Today we were going to rock climb! For breakfast we devoured the last of the cheese tortillas and then got in to the van and drove the short distance to our special location. As I watched FS Tim and the counselors unload the climbing gear from the van, I felt incredibly grateful that we did not have to carry that gear as well during our hike. So grateful I can’t describe it in any more words, just that if FS Tim hadn’t been keeping the climbing gear for us, and we had to have that extra load….oh brother. In any case we all carried a bit of the gear as we hiked the trail that led to a huge rock formation that rose out of the earth. I panted with anticipation; I really wanted to climb it. Tim and Maisey went another way so they could get to the top of the rock and drop down the ropes to us. The rest of us headed onward and arrived at our spot, and I waited at the bottom of the cliff- a sheer rock face maybe 35 meters high- and waited for the rope to come down, my neck cramping from tilting my head back. Finally the ropes came like snakes over the edge, and I guided them down to the ground. I put on my harness and waited impatiently for my turn. Davis came back from his turn and said “There’s a ledge with blueberries up there!” and I walked over to Steph. She guided me through making the eight-knot (I know it by heart now, I do climbing for sport) and it was then time for me to figure out how to climb the wall.
  • The first part was sort of easy, but there were large gaps where there was barely anything to hold on to. I hung from my finger tips on tiny cracks and crimp-holds. But I needed to keep going- there were blueberries ahead! I hung in my harness, giving my hands a break, studying the wall. Soon I started up again, and eventually hauled myself up on to the blueberry ledge, panting, and immediately started stuffing my face. The blueberries were sparse and small up here, but good; they were the reward of my tough climb. After a while I decided to try to get to the very top, about four feet further up. My rope taught, I tried getting around the side if the ledge, but I could feel the rope tugging me back. I slipped- a heart-stopping moment. I uttered a short scream of terror, my skin prickling as I swung to the side and was dangling freely above the ledge, looking down at the dizzying height between the ground and me. Breathing in quick gasps I called down in a hoarse voice that I wanted to come down. “Okay. Lean back and keep your legs in front of you,” Steph yelled back. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I tried my best, placing my feet on the rock wall. As I started going down, I panicked and returned to the upright position. My ride stopped. “Denny, you have to walk down the wall with your feet, so you won’t bump in to it.” I tried again. In an awkward, hopping manner, I walked down the wall and concentrated on looking at my feet, barely realizing that I was soon a foot above the ground. Smiling in relief I touched the earth. “How was it?” Steph asked. “Awesome,” I said, undoing my tight knot with difficulty, and walking to the others.
  • I tried two other climbs that day. The last one was crazy hard; It was practically smooth as a baby’s butt. Most of the way you had to make do with a long vertical crack in the wall. So in contorted positions, with gritted teeth and trembling muscles, I inched up the wall. I didn’t make it to the top. The best part about that place, though, was the blueberries. Ruby and Felicia went tromping in to the woods, and I followed them, planning to do my business; but came across a mossy hollow, filled with little blueberry bushes. How do I describe it? Beautiful. Beautiful and special in a way only nature can be. The ground was a soft, squishy bed of moss, on which I lounged like a queen, reaching out without looking and always surely bringing back a handful of blueberries. I rolled, and laughed with joy. I wanted to explore everything. The landscape was terraces of open rock mostly covered in mosses and grass, sparse trees, and large expanses of blueberries growing near the ground. I knew I had to get a taste of everything. I crested some rocks and saw Ruby, also eating blueberries. I frolicked over and threw myself down in the blueberries, and we rolled and summersaulted around, our mouths open, forever chomping on this bounty of fruit. Toren and Zavier came too, and were also brought under the spell of so much wild deliciousness. After a while Toren complained that he had to relieve himself; “What about doing something freaky,” Zavier said, “And doing it in that tree?” “No way,” Toren objected, and then a moment later, “You know what? Fine.” We watched him climb the skinny tree, sit on a branch. “Oh my god,” Ruby said, “he’s actually gonna do it. He’s gonna do it.”
    “Look out below,” He yelled. I hid behind a rock.
    Three, Two, One!” Toren smirked. We heard something drop.
    “done.”
    The craziness of it got to us and we laughed and laughed. Then I stopped as I smelled something vile. “Jeez Toren, where’d you learn to drop a stink bomb like that?” I choked, holding my nose. And that just made us laugh some more. It was just an insane moment of potty humor. “Nobody eat the blueberries over there,” Toren said humorously. That was agreed. Before we left I stood on the edge of the cliff, looking out at the green hills. The highway was like a little river below. I looked back at the country we had crossed, all that we had experienced in the last few days. We had written a story with every step of our journey. I smiled and ate one last blueberry.
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