All human life is spent trying not to fail at any more things. Reassuringly, nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold. So even she fails, and we get seasons. Failing can take infinite forms: burning food, hurting yourself, and letting everyone down. Generally, barfing is a sure sign of failure. You take a risk, you fail, and puke comes out. When walking into the boulders, hikers ask about our crash pads. With bright eyes we explain that they are for rock climbing, and they say, “Oh, in case you fall, I get it!” But there’s no “in case.” It’s inevitable, climbing is falling. I should say, “They are for falling off rocks.” Maybe you can’t identify with any of this because you’re not a walking train wreck, you have a shiny golden face, and all your wheelies are eternal, but you have definitely failed at something, and will most definitely fail at something else again.
If all those internet trolls wondered why Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson were wasting their lives doing something as useless as climbing the Dawn Wall, then boy are they going to be disappointed in me. There’s nothing like a glued-together cave problem with a drop-off finish in a world class bouldering area to make you question what the hell you are doing with your life. Fortunately, if you look into the cave with the right kind of eyes, you will find the definitive answer to soothe any existential crisis: Going sideways, to that glued jug, DUH.
When people say things like “retail therapy” the vomit starts a-flowin’. Maybe it’s because the idea of shopping to get oneself out of a depression is more depressing than just dying. Or maybe I like to exaggerate, sue me! HOWEVER, I like getting new shit as much as the next guy, and yes, sometimes I’ll go acquiring new shit if I’m feeling uninspired (ahem, injured). Of course, I can’t go buying things all the time because I hardly make any money. Besides, in the long run it’s boring and unfulfilling. Instead, I turn old pieces of garbage into new kinds of crap. To this end, one of the best tools I’ve ever purchased is the Stewart Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl. It is $15 and with it you can do amazing things, such as purchase something while depressed and then use it to create and modify yours, and others’ belongings with startlingly invigorating results. It creates a locking stitch, just as a sewing machine would, but it uses very strong thread and is able to easily pierce thick materials such as leather, foam, and hardened hearts. I’ve heard¹ rumors that it is the most fashionable way to sew a rhino’s horn back on, and I know for a fact that sailors use it to repair sails, and that people make HELLA leather knife sheaths.
Above: The view from Radio Danger Mountain
Yesterday was our 3 year 3 month and 3 day anniversary of living in The Rampage, which we have totally been planning to celebrate on purpose, so we went on a dirtbike adventure date! We packed the GPS, towels, 6 liters of water, snacks, swimsuits, and rode out of Moe’s Valley, across the desert to end up at the Gunlock Reservoir. The idea was that we would sneak up on the reservoir from the back side, and not have to pay the state park fee. Sadly, the only picture I took the entire day was the one at the top of this post, so you will have to suffer my use of Imagery (and possibly stolen photos) from here on out.
Well here you are, lost in a maze. It could be haunted and made of corn, or you might be stuck inside of a cheap plastic toy, with a tiny ball bearing ever in pursuit. It’s none of my business. Eventually you will happen upon a dead end (a legitimate one, not a wall… that seems to have features on it…), where the only way out is to turn around. Except, sometimes it isn’t that simple. Sometimes, there is a family of bears waiting for you to turn around, ready to savor your flesh while you call your mom and tell her you’re dying. Sometimes, you turn around only to discover yourself in superposition, already having turned around, finding yourself eating a Schrodinger’s catdog. Sometimes, you turn around and see yourself hunched over in a terrible superposition, not even knowing which end of the Schrodinger’s catdog you are supposed to eat first.
If you’ve never asked a 3 year old to guess your age, put that on your bucket list. I’ve been put anywhere from 5 to 100. They usually guess below 10 because you must be however old the other big kids they know are. If they don’t guess “big kid age,” they usually guess the highest number they know, because the older you get, the bigger you get. Little kids don’t understand peaks or primes of life. To them, age, strength, and “bigness” are directly proportional.
Every year, usually late in the summer, somebody’s underpants get hoisted up the flagpole at Longbow Forest Camp, and the freeballing owner is sacrificed over the bonfire in front of a cruel audience of hissing creeps who used to call him family. It is the most wonderful time of the year!
Longbow has been a family tradition for almost 30 years. Not technically my family, but my best friend’s family, which is close enough. A monstrous rotting stump of a tree sits near the kitchen, and all of the kids, who are now 30, used to drive their little toy cars all over its terrain. I’ve been coming to Longbow for close to 10 years*, just barely missing toy-car-stump era by about 15 years. Usually we enjoy activities such as moving huge logs, teasing Karl for bringing a gun, badminton, crawdad capturing, cold river swimming, and making the fire so big and hot that it melts our beer bottles, but this year was slightly more death-defying.
“Who shall call them from the grey twilight, the forgotten people? The heir of him to whom the oath they swore. From the North shall he come, need shall drive him: he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.”
-Malbeth the Seer
In this passage, Tolkien was actually referring to the boulderer’s destiny of climbing at Priest Draw. You shall walk the paths of the dead, and the forgotten people will fulfill their oath: to let you cam your flesh into their bomber limestone pockets.
Due to the utter futility of attempting to understand whether anything that has ever happened in this world is good or bad, and despite everything I said previously, spending too long in Las Vegas was not a mistake. If we had left any earlier, we never would have gone to the Gold Point dirtbike rally, and our current life would be a little bit different, and a lot emptier. It was a weekend that will go down in history… now that I have a blog. I mean, frick, watch out, History.
Unfortunately, this all happened over 2 years ago, so the order of events will be mostly inaccurate. The only 3 survivors who know what happened that weekend have had all of their finger tongues removed in case they felt like being contrary in the comments section.
As it turns out, a good way to make dreams come true (or at least make your life change) is to just start typing things you like into the jobs section of Craigslist. For example, a floor stain like myself might try such search terms as: frozen burrito, roadkill, or my own muscles. Sparkling with a childlike optimism rarely glimpsed in our fair Eli, he entered motorcycle into the search bar, and forever changed the course of The Rampage. In fact, he derailed it temporarily and the trailer is sitting vacant (hopefully including mice) at our friends’ house outside of Reno for the next 5 months while we roll around the East Coast living out of hotels and working a demo tour of Can-Am Spyders.