I recently did an interview with the lovely ladies of Flash Foxy and was asked how I find time to make sure I get outside. When I initially answered that question, I had just spent my spring semester traveling to some amazing places: Ouray in Colorado, Indian Creek in Utah, and Yosemite Valley in California—all while managing to get pretty amazing grades in my classes (at least for me). I had beat the system. I had won.
Wrong! Last weekend I had to cancel climbing plans in order to write a paper and a short story, critique two other short stories, and study for a quiz in a class I’m barely engaged in. Before the semester even started I had to completely rearrange my class schedule because a class I needed was dropped. Even during the AAC’s New River Gorge Craggin Classic I was stuck doing homework at Cathedral Cafe and our campsite for a portion of the trip. On top of that, I’m still unpacking after moving into a new house, and just the other day I found an unopened box full of stuff in my room. I haven’t been to the gym for anything other than coaching in two weeks.
I wish I could tell you that I have some sort of secret for how I made last semester work, but I don’t. Google calendar can only do so much, and my desire to get above a C in my classes only makes me want to bury my head in textbooks even more. This is the first time in the two years I’ve been a student that I’ve chosen school over climbing, and it’s scary.
Last weekend I made it outside to touch real rocks. My wonderful friend, Kathy Karlo, was in town to climb and try a few of her projects at Tennessee Wall—a perfect excuse to get outside and leave my homework at home. Which is exactly what I didn’t do. I cheered her on in between eating donuts, belaying my boyfriend, and reading my textbook. When I did finally try and top rope the beautiful roof crack on Only on Earth (5.11d), I could barely get to the first piece of protection, a #3 cam placed a mere 10ft off the ground. I struggled to make my rusty muscles and skidding feet work as I wedged myself into a chimney, popped out, pushed back in, and finally backed down after realizing that my desire to overcome a panic attack was slim to none, and I wasn’t going to be able to relax.
My intense chuffing and fear of getting stuck aside, the trip served as a reminder that just being away from a desk (even if you bring the homework with you) and getting outside can reinvigorate you. Sometimes it gets hard, like really hard- when I finally got back in the gym it felt like I was starting from square one- but for me it’s worth it. Pushing myself to make this crazy lifestyle work is the best challenge and I can’t thank the people that help me out along the way enough, you’re all special snowflakes.