Stone Fort (aka, Little Rock City), TN

First visit to the LRC
Location: Sonny-Daisy, TN just outside of Chattanooga
Reason for Visit: Bouldering
Duration of Stay: 3 Nights, 3 Days

Favorite Problems: As it was my first visit to Tennessee, I didn’t spend more than an hour or so at any one problem. There were boulders everywhere, and I only had 3 days! I had some serious work to do, but I hope to return one day to actually project some of the boulders. Also, I did not attempt any of the problems with sketchy landing zones since I was bouldering alone without a spotter.

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Traversing towards the topout on “These Feel Like Your Sister’s”.
  • These Feel Like Your Sister’s (V3) — located on “Your Sister Boulder” across from the tall 5.10 wall. This problem has so many holds and many different ways to send. It was fun to come up with my own sequence up and to the left using the awesome holds. However, this climb also has some sharp spots so take care of your skin! See Instagram for video.
  • Super Mario (V4) — located in the “Super Mario Area” on the “Super Mario Boulder!” This problem is one of the most classic problems in the LRC. Definitely going to be a long term project for me, but the aesthetics of the boulder itself is enough to pay it a visit.
  • The Big Much (V4) — located in the “Jungle Gym Area” on the “Jerry’s Kids Boulder” across from “The Fish Market Boulder”. The first move is heinous, the last move is sketchy, and everything in between is super fun. I wasn’t able to link all of the moves for this one, but I had a blast attempting it and definitely plan to go back.
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The Big Much
  • Deception (V7) — located in “The Back Nine Area” on “The Jigsaw Boulder.” It is quite obvious why this boulder is called the Jigsaw boulder! It looks amazing. This problem is also going to be a long term project for me, but the wall is a lot of fun to work on.
  • Warmup Arete (V2) — located in “The Main Area” on “The Frontside Boulder.” One of my favorite warmups of the whole trip. Slopers have been a big issue for me since a wrist injury last year, and this problem has slopers almost the entire way up. It felt great to work my wrists on this problem!
  • Brian’s Brain (V1) — located in “The Main Area” on “The Frontside Boulder” right next to the Warmup Arete. A fairly easy warmup, but an amazing boulder!
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Brian’s Brain

 

Airports:

  • Chattanooga Airport (CHA) — Chattanooga, TN: 20 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, 40 minutes from the LRC.
  • Nashville International Airport (BNA) — Nashville, TN: 2 hours from downtown Chattanooga, 2 hours 20 minutes from the LRC.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) — Atlanta, GA: 2 hours 10 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, 2 hours 30 minutes from the LRC.

Lodging:

  • The Crashpad: An Uncommon Hostel: Right in downtown Chattanooga, this place was perfect. The atmosphere, hospitality, and overall quality of this hostel get 5 well deserved stars from me. Just a warning, though, I hear often times people need to book a bunk months in advance during climbing season in Chattanooga.
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    • They provide bread, eggs, Nutella, etc. for breakfast every morning. You just have to cook it yourself. They also have a fridge in the kitchen area to store your own food as long as you keep it labeled with your name and checkout date.
    • There are shared rooms with 12 bunks per room, 4 per area, and there are private rooms as well. Shared rooms go for about $35/night and the private are about $85/night. The bunks in the shared rooms have privacy curtains, personal lamps, an outlet, and a cubby with provided locks. The cubbies have enough space for 2-3 bags depending on size. I cannot speak for what is in the private rooms since I stayed in a bunk, but the bunk experience was well worth the price.
    • There is a private gravel lot for parking located behind The Flying Squirrel, a bar next door that is owned by the same people.
    • They also have a list of restaurants throughout downtown Chattanooga that provide discounts for people who are staying at The Crashpad, just show them your keys!

Guidebook: Stone Fort Bouldering, 2nd Edition which I was able to borrow from The Crashpad Hostel.

Crash Pad Rentals:

  • Anvil Crashpads: Pads must be obtained and returned during business hours, which are difficult to find. Yelp has them posted, but I wasn’t able to verify if the hours were correct.
  • The Crasphad: An Uncommon Hostel: As a guest, I was able to rent a large Organic crash pad for $12/day, the same price that Anvil Crashpads charges.

Climbing Gyms:

Food: Downtown Chattanooga has so many restaurants, and almost every single one of them has 4.5+ stars on Google! I have listed some of my favorites below.

  • Community Pie: Based on pictures of their pizza online, I wasn’t too psyched, but I got 10% off for staying at The Crashpad and I was hungry. After a 20 minute walk in the beautiful spring weather, I arrived at the restaurant and immediately got a table. My waiter was extremely kind throughout the entire experience. I ordered the Hot Hawaiian Neapolitan pizza, cooked in their awesome wood stove, and my waiter brought me some house dipping sauce for my crust. My lanta, that sauce was to die for. I ate the entire 12″ pizza, which I probably wouldn’t have done without that sauce! The actual pizza part is thinner because it’s Neapolitan, so don’t judge me too harshly. Following the pizza, I ordered some gelato: 1 scoop of Milk & Honey and 1 scoop of Pistachio. That is probably the only gelato I have ever had in America that actually tastes like it does in Europe! By the end of my experience, I was no longer skeptical of Community Pie. Instead, I left stuffed and extremely impressed.
  • The Hot Chocolatier: AMAZING CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES!!! I had the Bittersweet truffle, the Chocolate Soufflé truffle, and the “World famous” Macaroons. I could have eaten myself sick at this place. Their chocolates are also sold in some of the Chattz Coffee locations.
  • Maple Street Biscuit Company: My last meal in Chattanooga before heading to the airport and my stars! It was one of those experiences where I knew I was eating food that is absolutely not good for me, but hey, I’m in the South! Why not, right? I have no regrets. Every bite was delicious.

 

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Thank you, Travel

Thank You ____ for _____.


Utah County, UT | giving a setting to my childhood.

Guatamala | hard candy and worry dolls.

Dublin, Ireland | fish and chips, breweries, and Trinity College.

Dakar, Sénégal | smiles that accompany Alhamdulilah‘s.

Kingston, ON Canada | nice bagpipers and poutine.

New York, NY | my first fireball shot.

Annapolis, MD | four years by the bay.

Washington, D.C. | un-teaching me how to drive.

Rockville, MD | America’s largest climbing gym.

Philadelphia, PA | Army-Navy football and Radio 104.5.

Lille, France | new friends with the sun in their hearts.

Glasgow, Scotland (UK) | bagpipes, kilts, and haggis.

Loch Ness, Scotland (UK) | Nessie.

Trier, Germany | evening porch conversations with a new friend and fine wine.

Zaanse Schans, Netherlands | maps that aren’t oriented north leading to endless bike rides through windmills and farms.

Zion National Park, UT | red rock.

Las Vegas, NV | memories of loved ones long since gone.

New River Gorge, WV | the Cathedral Café and Bridge Buttress.

World | my bucket list canvas.

 

What places should you be thanking and for what? Leave it in the comments below or write your own Travel Thanksgiving and send me a link!

 

Photo: Catoctin Mountain Park, MD

 

A Step-by-Step Guide to Picking up Climber Chicks in The Gym

Saw this in my Reader and absolutely loved it. Hilariously genius. Thought I’d share.

SeeLyseeClimb

Based on true events.

There she is, that hottie in the sports bra lacing up her muiras. Oh yeahhhhh. You totally wanna check out her figure….eight, don’t you? Well, there’s a method to this madness you young stud. First off, assume she knows absolutely nothing about climbing. Yes, she does want beta on that boulder problem. And she definitely wants you to campus it. This gives her the opportunity to lavish her eyes upon your glorious biceps….side note, your shirt is off here. As always. Duh. Don’t worry, the cold will make you look more defined. Goosebumps are SO in right now. And while we’re on the subject, some artfully torn jeans and a beanie are a staple of your casual look. Now that you’re looking mighty suave, it’s time to woo that damsel in distress. She just got that problem that you were kindly giving her beta on, and…

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New River Gorge, West Virginia

First Visit to New River Gorge
Location: Fayetteville, West Virginia
Purpose for my visit: Rock Climbing – Top rope
Duration of stay: 2 Nights, 2 Days

Favorite Routes:

  • Reachers of Habit (5.11b) – located in the Junkyard area. I have never climbed a 5.11b, and I didn’t make it to the top of Reachers of Habit. However, this route became such an addicting project during our time at the New. The crux (for short people) is a long reach that Mountain Project states has “non-existent feet.” Fortunately, I was able to use two essentially non-existent nubs to balance and statically reach for that next hold. I only completed this move once..  I definitely plan to return one day and continue working Reachers of Habit.
  • Team Jesus (5.10a) – located in the Junkyard area. A fairly straightforward climb, except one move. There is a point that seems to have one good left-hand hold, but nothing for your right. The right hand hold is kind of hard to find, but once you’ve got it, it is beautiful for its size and fun to maneuver around.
  • Angel’s Arete (5.10b) – located in Bridge Buttress area. Fantastic view of the bridge once you get near the top. Note: Once you switch from the right side of the arête to the left, there is a big beautiful hold right in your face. It is about ready to fall off the face so it is best to climb around it.
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Looking up at the crux of Team Jesus

Camping:

  • We chose to camp in Chestnut Creek Campground. It costs $10 per person per night if you pay in cash and $11 per person per night if you pay with card. They have shower facilities and fire pits. Reservations are required which allows you to guarantee yourself a campsite. The owner, Seth, is extremely kind and is happy to answer any questions you have.
  • Another good option is the American Alpine Club Campground. Their price is $7 per person per night for the general public and $5 per person per night for members. Reservations are not required at the American Alpine Club Campground which allows you to maintain a flexible schedule. They are currently constructing a bathhouse and will take online reservations once the bathhouse is complete. We did not camp here, so these details come from what I have heard from other campers or read online.

Climbing Guides:

  • Rock Climbing Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland: This is the book we used and with some guidance from Seth, our Chestnut Creek Campground manager, it worked beautifully for our 2 day visit.
  • New River Rock, Vol. 1: This is the book that everyone seemed to have at the crag. Much more detailed and worth it if you plan on regularly visiting the New.
  • New River Rock, Vol. 2: Second volume of the previous guide.
  • Mountain Project: Free online route guide. Definitely a super convenient and awesome resource. However, actually buying a guidebook proved to be super useful at the crag.

Food:

Lesson Learned:

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View from the top of Bridge Buttress
  • When we attempted to climb Angel’s Arête, it was the last route of the entire weekend. I was so exhausted, I didn’t finish. It wasn’t that I couldn’t finish, but I didn’t. I got one move past the point where you switch from the right side of the arête to the left. This is the point with the giant off-limits hold that I mentioned in the route description. I could not find a way around it. I told Stephen, my belay-er, that I would try one more thing and if I didn’t get it, I would come down. My body defied my expectations (not an unusual occurrence in climbing) and I found myself at the next move. I got it. However, before even looking for the next move, I told Stephen to lower me. My mind had been set on coming down. I was tired, and immediately as my feet touched the ground, I regretted coming down. Lesson learned.

RoadTrippers: A Traveler’s App

I downloaded the app RoadTrippers on my Android in March, and I quickly became obsessed. After entering my starting and ending road trip destinations, I could easily find a plethora of restaurants, lodging accommodations, sightseeing activities, and outdoor areas begging to be explored along my way.

My first experience with RoadTrippers was for my Spring Break trip to Killington Ski Resort in Vermont. I stopped at my at-the-time boyfriend’s parent’s place along the way, and I was even able to add their address as one of my stops. With that information, RoadTrippers could tell me all of the cool things to do on my new route through Pennsylvania as well. Okay okay, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me tell you how it works (these instructions were created using the online version of RoadTrippers).

  1. Create a new trip.
  2. Enter your starting and ending destinations along with the dates of departure/arrival.
    1. From there, RoadTrippers tells you how long your drive will take, how much money you should spend on gas, and how many total miles you are travelling.
  3. If you have any extra stops that you are making along the way, type those in the “Add a New Place” box on the left.
  4. At the bottom left of the screen, there is a slide bar that you can use to set your radius. Your radius is how far off of your original route you’d like to go for food, lodging, sightseeing, or whatever else you filter for.
  5. From there, you can use the buttons at the top left to filter what the map shows you. RoadTrippers has suggestions in the following categories:
    1. Accommodations
    2. Attractions and Culture
    3. Food & Drink
    4. Outdoors & Recreation
    5. Points of Interest
    6. Camping and RV
    7. Entertainment and Nightlife
    8. Services
    9. Shopping
    10. Sports
    11. Motoring
  6. And within each of those categories, there are more specifc tags you can search for! It’s wonderful.
  7. Once you find a place you would like to stop at along your road trip, select the “Add to Trip” button and RoadTrippers will recalculate your route, time, gas, etc. with this stop taken into account.
  8. Next, spend hours on hours looking at all of the wonderful places you could see.

If you are trying to follow along, here is a screen shot so you know you are looking at the correct app (also so you can see how awesome this is).

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Some other wonderful aspects about RoadTrippers:

  1. Each place has a rating, a description, the address, amenities, reviews, and sometimes even links to websites that will help you book a tour or a night in a hotel or whatever it is you are looking at.
  2. You can invite friends to edit one of your saved trips! So if you are not making your trek alone, why not have some collaboration on all of the stops you plan to make??
  3. There is also something on RoadTrippers called “Collections.” You can save places to your default “My Saved Places” Collection, or you can create new Collections such as the “Bucket List” Collection I have on my account. These Collections are not Trips so you do not have to specify a date or a route or anything. You can simply save the place into one of your Collections and come back to it later.

The one and only thing I do not like about the RoadTrippers app:

  1. From what I have seen, you cannot add a place to RoadTrippers’ database. For example, there was a wonderful restaurant that I went to and I wanted to add it to one of my saved trips as a stop. However, RoadTrippers did not have this restaurant saved so I couldn’t add it. A bit disappointing, but obviously not hindering my enjoyment of the app. I emailed the RoadTrippers’ help desk and they responded saying that they are hoping to implement this feature soon. If anyone knows when that is or how to use it, please let me know!

The point of this post is this.. I have wasted an exorbitant amount of time exploring hundreds of new places. Don’t feel bad if you do the same. 🙂


Photo Credit: Sébastien Marchand

Keep the Channel Open

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” — Martha Graham, American Dancer and Choreographer

I recently finished reading Women Who Dare by Chris Noble, a very inspiring book filled with the stories of 20 accomplished female rock climbers. This book opened with a quote, printed above, by Martha Graham. Chris used this quote in reference to climbing, and I am guessing Martha spoke in reference to dance. Regardless of the form of expression, this quote is a call to take responsibility for the effect we have on this world.

There are times that I am tempted to close the “channel” because I have been hurt. That pain might stem from a loved one’s betrayal, a time when pushing everyone out is just easier; or from that pesky rock climbing tendinitis, an issue that makes a less injury-prone sport seem more desireable. It is always too easy to quit*, to shut down, to bury your true self because it is easier, less embarrassing, whatever. There will always be a reason to keep your own energy as your own, but stinking Martha here is calling all of us out. Quitting does not only affect our own lives and our own progression, but it affects the world and the contributions of “energy” that we are responsible for.

It’s cheesey, it’s spiritual, it’s a bit dramatic; but Martha’s got a beautiful point worth considering.


*Quitting in reference to climbing is very different from resting and recovering. I am not advocating “climbing through” any serious pain.

Photo taken at the top of the glacier section on Mount Timpanogos in Utah County, Utah.