Wednesday, May 5, 2010

To each his own

The nice thing about hobbies is everyone can enjoy them at their leisure and no one needs to be recruited or feel that you're out of step if you don't partake in a particular hobby.  Just like everyone else, I dabble in a variety of activities that keep me relatively busy.  Geocaching is one of my many outdoor activities that keeps me from "getting into trouble" according to my wife.

As we were hiking this past Saturday in the Devils Punchbowl, we stopped several times to watch some rock climbers on the opposite side of the Punchbowl work their hobby.  Even with my acrophobia, I considered this particular sport at one time when I was in college.  Several of my friends in the dorms at Humboldt State University would drive up to Patrick's Point State Park and climb the rocks there on the weekends.

They invited me to go on one of their excursions one time and I incredibly, now that I think of it, accepted.  One friend let me borrow his climbing shoes and another friend set me up with his climbing harness and soon they had me hooked up, on belay and climbing up the face of this rock.  First thing they had me do was fall.  I had to know that I could depend upon them to brake my fall.  That, actually, was the hardest thing about the sport.  That initial rush, or rather, the trepidation of just letting go of the rock probably scares a lot of people off the face of the rock more than anything else.

Once I passed that test, it was on to the actual climb.  The rock that they would climb was probably no more than 50 to 75 feet to the top.  There was a parking area on top, complete with railing and viewpoint, so it made a perfect place to anchor in the ropes.  Then, they would drive down to the bottom of the rock and practice different ways to climb the rock, trying different techniques to improve their abilities.  The rock was pretty much vertical, so it was a good test for most rock climbers learning their craft.

I started up and was doing pretty well, getting encouragement from my friends while I tried different routes.  Then, I made my fatal mistake.  I looked down.  Had I kept my focus on the top as opposed to trying to gauge how far I'd gone, I might have conquered the rock.  But I froze and it was all over.  My friends got me down, but I've never tried it again.  Now, I have no desire to.  I'm content to watch others do it.  I'll just get to the top of the rock by taking a trail, instead of taking the more direct approach.  I'm sure they probably think my hobby is a trifle boring.  To each, his own.  Besides, there's more flowers and things to look at alongside the trail.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Burbling Brook - by steveel
Devils Punchbowl - by Kit Fox

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1 comment:

chaosmanor said...

As Abraham Lincoln once wrote, "For those people who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing those people will like." I think I understand the thrill; but for me, that sort of climbing is much like flying; if we were intended to do that, we'd be born with different appendages. Still, it was fun to watch those folks doing their thing while we were doing our thing.

Nice photo of the guy working his way up that negative pitch. I can't even imagine trying something like that; I get the wobblies on the third step of a ladder.