It’s raining again. At least it’s not snow this time. We’re in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky and over the past month we’ve suffered through three snow storms. One storm dumped eight inches of heavy white stuff. It kept us up all night removing snow from our awning covers. Somehow we overlooked our small three season storage tent, which ended up crushed by snow. Luckily we kept the poles from a previously damaged tent (the same model) and were able to bring it back to life. We spent the post-storm day shoveling our steep driveway and clearing snow, which progressively liquefied over a four day period.
Snowstorm number three dumped a mere three inches on the first day of spring, but it was moisture laden, weighty stuff. The preceding weather forecast was off by a country mile. I blame the recent government cuts to NOA perpetuated by the rhetorical fake news regarding the reality of global climate change. Despite what our self-christened “stable genius” leader and his associates from Sinclair broadcasting would have you believe, scientist have been warning of severe weather pattern changes since the early 1990’s. The unusual rapid warming of the Artic region is now forcing a cold weather trough to a more southerly configuration through central and eastern portions of North America. These abnormal weather patterns are creating harsh winters in the northeast and middle Atlantic regions of the US. It should be 60ºf here. A little wetness for sure, but not to this extreme during the typical Kentucky spring. Particularly annoying is the record amounts of frozen moisture which is incredibly odd for this late in the year. I remember growing up in Michigan, nearly 300 miles north of here, in the 60’s and 70’s. We played baseball on green grass this time of year. This is what happens when you f#@k with Mother Nature.
Alas, last week we made the 35 mile drive to Richmond during a torrential rainstorm, to stock up on groceries. We returned home to find the canopies over our camper and training tripod reduced to a mass of bent metal poles and torn fabric collapsed by wet, heavy snow. It sent us back to Richmond the following day to pick up a load of lumber, screws, and a large, hefty tarp, which we dubbed our FEMA solution. Within a few hours we had a new shelter built to handle up to a foot of snow and all the future apocalyptic rain that will inevitably strike again during this unusual Kentucky spring. The importance of having protection over the top of Alexander Superscamp is simple: it gives us the ability to ventilate during rainy conditions, mitigating the mold buildup encouraged by the moisture created by four living, breathing creatures inside.
Last night we were hit again with maximum deluge once again. This time it was accompanied by an amazing electrical show replete with simultaneous lightning strikes and deafening claps of thunder. A more typical spring storm in this case. Lola slept through it, but Frankie kept us up most of the night with her frightened Chicken Little routine. This included a nonstop panicked yapping that sounds much like a loudly clucking chicken.
The problem with continual rain in the Red is that it leads to high humidity. The moisture in the air permeates the overhanging rock and coats the surface. Chalked holds become paste. Tic marks disappear. Trying to hang on becomes incredibly frustrating, to the point that you’re left trusting the commonly well-spaced, occasionally heavily oxidized bolts to hold the inevitable fall.
The good news is, we’re getting lots of rest between sporadic days of climbing. The bad news, of course, is that we’re gradually falling behind on overall fitness levels due to forced inactivity. Even our additional fitness tools are largely unavailable to us due to weather extremes. Our lovely new wooden hang-board is great, but our training tripod is fully exposed to outdoor elements. I built a level platform for our yoga practice, but again, it’s only usable when the weather is conducive.
Being a chronic planner induces me to maintain a journal of our climbing and training. As a result of our advanced ages (Mags 48 & Charlie 62) we need longer periods of rest after hard sessions of training or climbing or any combination therein. This limits us to average 12 days a month on the rock typically. Last month we made it out 11 days, but more than half were low quantity and/or what I’d deem low quality days, due to pugnacious weather conditions. Numb fingers, cold toes and an inability to properly warm up the body made it a difficult month. Fortunately, we’re only rock climbing and are by no means responsible for something as important as salvation of the world or rocket surgery.
The moral of the story is simple… while pursuing the predominately rewarding dream of climbing/traveling full time, plan on the inevitability that you will not be continually suffused in paradise. You have to accept the occasional bad with the good which can momentarily and randomly turn to unequivocal ugliness.
In case you were wondering…it’s snowing again today.
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