Moving up

The shoulder is on the mend! I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of getting in my physical therapy exercises every night and it’s been seriously paying off. My should feels less achey and my neck feels more relaxed. It’s funny how things can improve over time. When I first started doign my exercises, it felt like nothing was changing. My shoulder still hurt, it still felt weak and stiff and I had an extra 30 minutes of stuff I had to take care of before I fell asleep. Not fun when you’re seriously exhausted.

But now, almost a month later, I’ve gotten stronger. I told you I’d been sharing my journey of recovery back into rock climbing, and I have a new milestone to share! This past weekend over memorial day I went camping with a huge group of friends in the Mt. Hood wilderness. We camped out along the Salmon river for three nights, sharing meals, drinks and endless games of ShitBoots. All of the guys that were out on this trip also happen to be professional arborists and these guys hate sitting still. We asked if they’d set up a tree for us to climb while we went on a hike during the day, and we came back to a 200 ft line set into a 230ft tree with an additional traverse line set 150ft up across the river that ran by our campsite. They also modified our giant 20ft rain tarp about three different times during our trip, just because one side of it had started to look a little droopy.

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But I’m getting side-traceked here, let me get back to the good stuff. So, there we were: watching our friends each tke turns gearing up into the arborist harness, attaching their foot ascenders and disappearing into the moss-covered branches of the 300+ year old Doug Fir. I sat by, anxious and excited to give it a try. I told everyone (at least five different times) that I wasn’t sure if I’d make it very far. I was just going to test it out, see how my shoulder felt, and if it was bugging me, I’d come back down. I knew though that as soon as I started, I wasn’t going to want to come back down. Really, I was just hoping my shoulder wasn’t going to bother me so that I didn’t set back my healing time. It was going to be a test.

I was geared up, through the safety test and locked in. I started climbing, and it was hard. My friend Logan told me I should imagine I’m staning on the acesnders and try to keep my body as straight and upright as possible and that eventually I’d find my rhythm. The first 30ft I started to worry that I was going to be relying on my shoulder too heavily. I was akward; sitting back too far, getting hand cramps and taking a rest about every 10ft. But, I was putting most of the work on my right shoulder and my left shoulder was doing pretty well. So I kept going. I’d climb another ten feet or so, sit back, take a break and look at the bark next to my face. I admired the soft moss that extended on the branches all around me and I soaked inthe view that improved dramitically the further up I went. Then, about 2/3rds of the way up, I hit my stride. I was hoding onto the rope differently with my hands and I was taking these tiny baby steps up with my toes against the tree. What Logan had said to me at the base of the tree made sense about 100 ft up. It was far easier than the way I’d been climbing before and it felt like I flew up the last 50 or so ft to my friend Ben. My should felt even more protected in this modified ascension and I was so excited that I was not going to have to force myself back down the trunk.

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I reached Ben at the 150ft traverse line (dropped off a hot dog I’d been carrying up with me) and continued up to my friend Kelsey who was sitting at the top. It was open where Kelsey was, and the views were some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. Imagine the best view you’ve ever had from the top of a mountain. Now imgaine there’s no mountain around to ground and you’re part of that breathtaking view. That’s what it’s like to sit 200ft in an old Doug Fir in the Mt. Hood wilderness. Incredible.

After soaking in as much of the view as I could, I descended (nervously- I’m still giddy when I do something new and mildy terrifying!) back down to Ben to ride out above the creek on the traverse line. Once he got me all hooked in and off my ascending line, I warily walked out to the end of a swaying branch. Ben was laughing at me the whole time, just telling me to, “keep going.” I was nervously laiughing back at him as I inched my way out over the apparent abyss.

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Being out there was amazing! I loooked down to see Logan and Breanna as tiny ants anlong rock parts of the riverbed. I shouted and laughed and almost felt like I could cry, but didn’t. It was another amazing experience and coming down that line was soooo fun! Logan grabbed the end of my rope and gave it a yank, letting me have one of the best swing rides of my life. I descended, laughing and still shouting, into the waiting arms of my friend Breanne, who comically caught me as if I were a damsel in distress that had just descended from the heavens.

It’s been feeling better over the last few weeks and I know that actual rock climbing is in my near future.

Thanks for following along in my recovery with me and I can’t wait to keep moving forward!