Boredom, Depression, Kentucky, and Tennessee

We’ve been back from Kentucky for a little over four weeks now. And I can’t wait to leave again. I’m not really big on holidays, but Faye loves them. She wanted to be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but driving up and down the country two different times in a month didn’t make much sense to either of us. So the consensus was that we stay home for a while. And by home, I mean with Faye’s parents.

Central Rock Gym in Worcester, MAFaye and I had great plans for our extended stay in Massachusetts. We were going to become gym rats, get strong, and crush the southern bouldering circuit like it was our jobs. That lasted for about a week. After climbing for two and a half months at The New and The Red, the gym got old quickly. And we have a great local gym. There were so many things about climbing outside that I took for granted. The wide open spaces, the endless climbing, the fresh air, the scenery. Inside smells funny, with chalk and body odor lingering in the air. Even as often as they change the routes, they can feel stale quickly. And for the most part, the people are awful (although today we met a very cool person). When we go to the gym, we spend at most three hours there. Which leaves us with a lot of downtime. Enter the boredom.

I don’t do well with too much time on my hands. When we were climbing on the road, I wouldn’t have much time to get bored. We would wake up in the morning around eight or eight-thirty and make coffee and breakfast. We’d talk to our friends, make plans for the day, and head out to the crag. We would literally climb all day. Well I guess we wouldn’t be climbing the whole time, but you’re at the crag the whole time. If you’re not climbing, you’re having a snack, or watching a friend climb something. The dogs would run around like nuts for a while before finding a nice spot to nap. Once the sun started to set, we would hike back to the car, and usually get back to the campground after dark.Putting in dreads is an acceptable rest day activity Then we would have a beer or two, make dinner, and return exhausted to our tent to read, watch a movie, or more likely fall asleep by 8:30. Rinse, repeat. We would do that two or three (maybe four) days in a row, and then take a rest day. On a rest day we would usually go grocery shopping, do laundry, take showers, go into town, or go to the movies. Or some combination of all of the above. This schedule suited me well.

Now lets consider my current schedule. We usually wake up around the same time. But the coffee is already made. We don’t cook breakfast much anymore, opting instead for something like cereal or a bagel. Then I open my laptop, load Facebook and Twitter, and hit refresh. Over and over. I’ll do some reading, or we might go to the gym for a few hours, but that’s about it. We’ve started doing crafts. We made wood block prints for our Christmas cards. We made candles for gifts, and pendants out of scrabble tiles. Faye learned how to knit. All of this time on my hands has made me feel like I have no purpose. Which is depressing. I’ve been miserable to be around, and I’m sure Faye is just about sick of me. The worst part is that the boredom and depression have made me completely unmotivated, which only makes me more bored and depressed.

Miguel's PizzaAlright, now that my little pity party is over, let me tell you about our five-ish weeks in Kentucky. We spent the whole time at Miguel’s. Outside of Denali killing a chicken, and one particularly douchy individual, it was a pleasant experience. For those of you unfamiliar with Miguel’s, it is the rock climber’s campground of the Red River Gorge. Miguel makes some delicious pizza, and at two dollars a night, you can’t afford not to. The Red being the destination that it is, we met climbers from all over the country, and the world. Oregon, Colorado, Germany, France, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Norway, California, Canada and Michigan. It was slightly surreal to be in rural Kentucky and hear four or five different languages over breakfast. I would say that the friends we made in Kentucky rivaled even the climbing, and they made the experience what it was.

After being whipped into reality by the sandbagged grades of the New River Gorge in West Virginia, my climbing skills slowly improved  at The Red. I sent my hardest climb to date, an 11c named Bessie at Chica Bonita Wall. It was a slabby, technical climb with a specific crux that I flailed on for my first go. I finally figured it out, and sent it on my second try. Our friend Sheldon on Amarillo SunsetBreakfast Burrito was a fantastic 10d, which felt a little easy for me at that grade. Apparently it was upgraded from 10c when the “burrito” hold broke off. Two of my other favorite climbs were Random Precision and Eye of The Needle, both at 11b, and the latter of which I was able to flash. A Brief History of Climb was an underrated, really fun 10c at The Gallery. And Amarillo Sunset was another fantastic 11b, which I unfortunately was not able to redpoint. Those climbs were the ones that stood out the most to me. I got on some harder things as well, none of which I even finished unfortunately, but was glad I did.

After Christmas we plan on heading out on the road again. We’ll spend a couple of weeks in Tennessee. There we’re meeting friends from Michigan and Chattanooga to boulder at Little Rock City and do some trad climbing at Tennessee Wall. From there we’ll spend time in Alabama at Horse Pens 40, then on to Hueco Tanks, Texas for some of the best bouldering in the country. Then maybe on to Bishop, California for the end of winter, Smith Rocks in Oregon for the spring, and a return to Wyoming for the summer. That’s all subject to change of course, but hopefully we get to hit all of those places and see a bunch of the friends that we’ve made so far.

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Posted on December 21, 2011, in Camping, Climbing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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