Sometimes You Get Rained On

Sometimes, trips don’t go the way you want them to. Sometimes you get rained on. Sometimes you start up a climb, and it starts raining, but it’s not too bad, maybe it will let up. So you keep going. Then your partner yells up at you that she thinks you should bail. So you bail. You sit at the base of the climb, and you wait for the heavy sprinkle to pass. You notice other parties still on the wall, and you start to feel the itch, and the pressure to finish that climb. You drove all the way up here. You ask the girls what they think—they say go for it. A few X4s and a sling later, I’m at the poorly placed stopper that somehow got stuck on my first go. It was booty, so I had left it to the booty gods when it started raining earlier. I give it a couple of wiggles again, for good measure—and then the clouds break open. Now it’s raining—really raining. I don’t respond at first, again thinking that it will pass. I’m only 45 feet off the deck, on a sloping ledge, and the terrain is easy. I hear the girls yell up at me—How you doing up there? I laugh. Guess the rain wasn’t over—I yell back. The rain starts coming down in thick sheets. It takes my breath away. I feel claustrophobic, and suddenly, very alone. Parties are rapping. Fuck. I don’t want to bail. I lay my face down on the cool granite and close my eyes. That’s when it hits me. Rain is coming down the face in a waterfall, and it hits me right in the face. I sit up, startled, to see the dude from the party on my left rapping above me. Are you okay? he asks. I guess that’s a valid question to ask the girl who has draped herself like a blanket over the granite below a poorly placed stopper, standing still in the pouring rain. Yeah—I’m good, thanks. You’re welcome to rap down our line if you want—there’s two more in the party. Thanks, I might take you up on that, I say, and he’s gone as quickly as he came. Time to wake up, Sash. You’re not going to finish this climb, you guys can come back to South Wall tomorrow.

Hey—you want to rap down our line? The woman pulling the caboose of the party says. Yeah—I do, thanks. She yells off rappel moments later—as I push the rope through the ATC, water comes gushing out of it like a washcloth in the shower. You have another 5 days here, what’s a trip without one day of bad weather, I say to myself, as I lower into the shelter of the trees.

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TRonsighting at Otter Cliffs. Little did we know, that would be our only day without rain…Photo by Sasha Turrentine.

Fast forward 3 days, and we are sitting in the car, in an empty parking lot. It’s 6 am, and the drizzle is light, but relentless. The car smells like sour milk. Everything is wet. The guidebook, the tent, our clothes. The rope has been damp since the day at South Wall. By now, we could take you on an intimate tour of the bars in Bar Harbor, but fuck if we know where the good rock climbs are. At this point, we’ve done a whole lot of bailing. Dude—who knew our best day of rock climbing in Acadia would be at Otter Cliffs, I say darkly. Top rope the world! Taylor quips. We all laugh. Hey—at least Sasha did that first 5.7 pitch of Gunkslandia 3 times. Sick ascent, teases Sarah. More laughing. I refresh all weather sites obsessively. 90% through Sunday. Let’s go get some food, I’m fuckn starving, Sarah says. 20 minutes later, we’re back at Two Cats, drinking coffee and debating between Eggs Benedict and Blueberry Pancakes. When the warmth penetrates our bones and the food hits our bellies, we start talking again. I say I think it’s time to bail—for real. The girls nod in silent agreement. Nothing is worse than packing up a tent in the pouring rain, Taylor adds. We ask for the check.

12 irritable hours later, I’m spreading my wet sleeping bag, tent and gear out in my tiny Brooklyn apartment to dry, feeling all kinds of sorry for myself, when I remember that we showed up at Otter Cliffs (a famous top-rope cliff) with a double rack, and I laugh out loud. I see Sarah, pouring box wine for herself in the parking lot, in the middle of the day. I remember the girls’ strange habit of brushing their teeth before a day of climbing—strange especially to someone like me, who has terrible dental hygiene. And Taylor did her hardest lead on gear to date! How could I have forgotten?

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Taylor Try Hard face. Finger lockin’ on her first 5.10 trad lead at South Wall. Photo by Sasha Turrentine.

There was that kind of cool 10a arete at Cadillac too. I’ll never forget watching the two of them prusik 60 vertical feet on our failed mission at Great Head. At first, they were pissed, and humiliated. Then as we drove further and further away from the crag and night fell around us, we started to crack jokes, and by our first beer in town, we were all laughing at our horrendous luck.

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We may have only gotten 8 pitches in all week—but as I sit there on the couch, laughing by myself like a fool, I realize it’s medicine all the same. Sometimes, trips don’t go the way you want them to. Sometimes you get rained on. Sometimes you start up a climb, and it starts raining, but it’s not too bad, maybe it will let up. So you keep going. Then you get rained on even harder, and you bail. Sometimes the rain doesn’t stop all week, and you go home early, and it isn’t until you get home that you realize how much fun you had. We all talk about the times we had so much fun with our friends—but what about the times we are kind of miserable with our friends? Misery loves company, and there is nowhere I’d rather be miserable than on a climbing trip, and no one I’d rather be miserable with than my crass, adventure-seeking, weirdo girl friends.

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Did I mention we brought Taylor’s 3 lb chihuahua? Her name is Rue. She was also miserable all week.

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