‘Sweet’ adventures in Kings Canyon

 

“I want to go on an adventure!” Nacho Bear thought to himself when he woke up last Sunday morning.

He called his friends Moby Bear and Zooey Bear and they agreed to join him on the adventure. Moby Bear packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salami, cheese, and Sour Patch Kids into a backpack, and the trio set off for Kings Canyon National Park, where they intended to hike the popular Mist Falls Trail.

“On second thought, Bears, let’s make this a multi-sport adventure,” Nacho Bear said, as he drove from Fresno to the park, bobbing his head to the new Grizzly Bear album that streamed through the stereo. His paws began to sweat with excitement as he drove past the park’s tall trees, gushing rivers, and granite slabs, and imagined all the fun they would have that day.

They hit the trail, and began the 8.4-mile hike with enthusiasm and energy, powered by the sticky Sour Patch Kids in their pockets. But then Nacho Bear careened to a halt: He had found the perfect rock to climb.

“Bears, will you spot me? I’m just going to boulder this rock,” he said. “Sweet!” said Zooey Bear.

Once Nacho Bear flashed the route, they continued along their hike. Until, that is, Zooey Bear spotted the perfect place to wade into the river. It was secluded enough that the Bears could peel off their sweaty hiking clothes and jump – naked – into the cold water.

“The cold water feels so refreshing on my fur!” Zooey Bear exclaimed, as she begged Moby Bear to join them.

Finally, Nacho Bear, Zooey Bear and Moby Bear made it to the top of Mist Falls. From their vantage point, they could see the cascading water falls, leafy trees, and many mountains beyond.

“I could be eaten now, and I would be happy,” said Moby Bear, as he sighed, took Zooey Bear’s hand, and gazed out to the horizon.

The Bears agreed to pose with Daniel at “the end of their adventure”… or, before he ate them.

 

4 reasons to attend a Girls on Granite weekend in Yosemite

 

This past weekend, four of us gals joined the Girls on Granite women’s rock climbing workshop in Yosemite. Here are four reasons you should consider signing up for this workshop.

 

1. Learn the outdoor climbing skills you’ve wanted to acquire.

During the two-day workshop, our awesome Yosemite Mountaineering School guides Hope and Lyra helped us gain the important outdoor climbing skills that we could never master in the gym. They taught us the essentials of climbing on granite and in cracks, and offered awesome tips on foot position, hand jams, and body weight shifts. They also did a great job of teaching us the specific skills we wanted to learn – which, for us, meant building anchors and placing gear for trad climbing.

 

2. Gain a sense of place

Rock climbing is a relatively young sport, and a significant portion of its history is based in Yosemite. The guides passed on the stories behind the names of areas in the park – Manure Pile Buttress, for example, was once a very descriptive term for the crag just east of El Capitan – and shared tales about climbers coming together to preserve Camp 4, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its role in the development of the sport. (For more on the history of climbing in Yosemite, Hope recommended ‘Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber.’)

3. Have a pre-climbing soy latte and a post-climbing shower

The Girls on Granite package includes a two-night stay in Curry Village. Once we got over any illusions of a rustic weekend, we were happy to indulge in Curry Village’s amenities. We discovered that the Curry Village Coffee Corner brewed the best soy lattes, ever. And after a day of climbing, Curry Village’s bathhouse, complete with hot showers and towel service, were the perfect antidote for our sunscreen-sprayed, DEET-smeared bodies.

 

4. Girl time!

The only thing that could rival Sister Adventures are adventures with a sister, our friends, and new friends, all of whom are as passionate about climbing as we are.

Good Reads: Adventure Slide Shows

 

For your weekend viewing pleasure, here are three adventure slide shows definitely worth clicking through!

Hot Tub, Ice Machine – Ice Climbing in Ouray Ice Park (New York Times)

Competitive Yoga – Scenes from the New York Regional and National Yoga Asana Championship (NYT)

The Nutropolitan Museum of Art – Peanut butter inspires art (Peanut Butter & Co.)

Enjoy the weekend!

Sisters Make the Best Adventure Partners, and other lessons from J Tree

I was on top rope, so if I had let go of the rock, I would not have dropped an inch.

But as I held onto a slim crack in the rock with one hand, and used my other hand to frantically search among the gear hanging from my harness for the right piece of protection, I began to freak out.

“I don’t think I’m meant to do this,” I called out to Sonya, who was belaying me.

At that moment, the seriousness of what I was doing weighed down on me. It was my first (mock) trad lead, and I finally grasped the importance of placing the most bomber piece of protection in the crack in the rock: If I didn’t place a piece of gear correctly (and if I weren’t on top rope) I could crash down onto the rocks below me.

I gasped for breath. Eventually, I regained my breath and confidence, and finished the climb.

All of that may have taken just a few minutes, but it is one of the most memorable moments of our Epic Sister Adventure in Joshua Tree National Park. That moment stands out to me so strongly, I think, because it took me far beyond my comfort zone.

“Life begins when you step outside your comfort zone,” Sonya said that afternoon.

That could be the best lesson I learned during our week in Joshua Tree. Below are some other lessons I learned during our trip.

Beware the cholla! It will get you!

Natural Sisters Cafe makes the best granola bars. Ever.

Julie looks cute in photos when she climbs things. 

Vests and cacti are having a moment.

Desert weirdness is alive.

Nacho is too big to be a crag dog.

Sisters make the best adventure partners.

Next year in El Portero Chico! 

 

The Adventure Princess Sisters take on Joshua Tree National Park

In October, I read a ‘New Yorker’ profile about Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times. It was a great article – but you know what part stuck in my mind?

This one line: Jill and her sister, Jane O’Connor… “have the same cackle of a laugh, and every year they go off alone on adventure trips – to China, Morocco, Budapest.”

“If the executive editor of the New York Times can take annual adventure trips with her sister, than so can I,” I thought to myself.

Fast forward four months, and my sister and I are preparing to set off on our adventure. On Sunday, we’re leaving for an epic, eight-day hiking and rock climbing trip in Joshua Tree!

Here are the details:

  • For the first three nights, we will be staying at places we reserved through AirBnB.

On the first night, we have reserved a “lovable, semi-rustic” home, where yoga and energy healing sessions are offered. On the second and third nights, we will be staying in a “magical homesteader cabin,” which was featured in this New York Times article.

For the rest of the week, we will be staying in friends’ guesthouse, and learning the technical aspects of rock climbing!

  • As for gear, we will be bringing the basics: hiking boots, climbing shoes, harness… Plus the Petzl helmet and Prana corduroy pants I bought today at REI’s awesome winter clearance sale.

So adventuresome friends… what else must we know about Joshua Tree? What must we not forget? I’m so excited!

Pictured: Past sister adventures to Kings Canyon National Park, Laos, and Big Sur

Why restorative yoga for climbers?

When I started teaching a Yoga for Climbers class at MetalMark Climbing & Fitness, I assumed people would want a flowing yoga class, filled with hip- and shoulder-opening poses, and some fun arm balances.

I’ve now been teaching the class about six months, and I’ve learned that climbers want something else added to that mix: Relaxation.

It makes sense.

If you’ve been climbing at the gym all week, your arms may be too tired to hold downward dog. If you are planning to go climbing outside during the weekend, you don’t want to tire out your legs by doing too many warrior poses.

But I think people need more than physical relaxation.

No matter how much time I spend crafting a creative sequence of poses, people always seem to like best savasana, and the head massages I give during this final resting pose. People live such on-the-go lives, and that time in savasana is sometimes the only quiet moment they can carve out for themselves.

We all crave more quiet time. We all crave that post-yoga bliss that comes from releasing physical and mental tension, focusing on the moment, and then melting into that.

I say all this because starting Friday (Feb. 3) I will begin teaching a restorative yoga class at MetalMark, and I want you to come. The class will run from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. I think it will be a great way for us all to say goodbye to the week that was, and enter the weekend with a fresh outlook and new energy.

If you are new to restorative yoga, Yoga Journal has a nice preview of restorative yoga poses. You’ll see that while these poses are deep and yummy, they are not strenous. So, don’t come expecting a workout. In fact, don’t come with any expectations at all.

Just come with an open mind, and relax into the experience. I think you will like it!

Pictured above: A Thai sculpture in a restorative pose, my Mama at a palace in Bangkok, and me at the palace.

3 ways I’m improving my climbing this month

Looking for ways to spice up your climbing? Here are three ways I’m doing that in the next month.

 Better nutrition

Earlier this week, I slathered a spoonful of Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter on half a banana as I grabbed my climbing gear and ran out the door. As I struggled to make it up the wall, my arms felt like jello, and my energy level lagged at empty.

Contrast that with last Friday afternoon, when I blended a Vanilla Chai-flavored Amazing Meal – a protein powder billed as a “100% whole food nutrition mix” – with almond milk and banana, before a two-hour climbing session. That evening, I climbed some of the hardest routes I’ve attempted, and succeeded. My muscles sometimes went to slack mid-way through the route, but would recover quickly.

Amazing Meal is a great product. But I’ve learned that just eating a good, protein-full snack before a climbing session can make a big difference in my energy level and ability.

 Hot pants

Ever since I discovered YogaGlo, I’ve been streaming a class every morning before work. One of my favorite teachers on the site is Tiffany Cruikshank. Her classes are great, but what I really love are her bright-colored yoga pants.

“Where can I find bright yoga pants?” I asked my mom. Twenty minutes later, she sent me the website www.beyondyoga.com.

Fellow seekers of spandex pants in lava, lapis, and mosaic teal, rejoice. These are the Crayola-colored yoga pants we’ve been dreaming of.

 New challenges

But let’s be honest. Eating like a vegan bodybuilder and wearing blackberry-hued bottoms will mean little if I’m not continuing to learn and challenge myself on the climbing wall.

Case in point: Months ago, I made it my goal to learn to lead climb. I took the lead course, but never had the guts to get lead-certified.

Now, I have a new incentive. Looks like my adventure-princess-in-crime sister and I will be taking a trip to Joshua Tree in February, and I’d sure love to be able to lead climb there! (More on this adventure to come!