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Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) blooming in front of the Monument crags at Smith Rock. By mid April these guys were everywhere.

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

I really thought I botched it. Instead of smoothly locking off to clip the second bolt, I hesitated, used some different hand holds, pasted my feet onto things I had never used before, and then I clipped it. “Shit” I thought. I was right about to embark on the  hardest part of “Darkness at Noon”, Smith Rock’s first 13a, and I was already screwing up. If there was any room for error, that was it. I had to climb the rest of the route flawlessly if I wanted to have a shot at it. The crisp morning had already given way to what would be a warm afternoon, with the temperatures seemingly elevated in the little “solar oven” created by the opposing rock faces on either side of me. “Why the hell am I doing this in the sun?” I thought. Looking up, I saw about 25 more meters of unrelentingly hard technical rock climbing that lay ahead. I shook out on a bad pocket for a moment, refocused and forged onward.

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Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa) with Mt. Shasta in the background.

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

While everyone says that fall is the best time to be climbing, I say that “rock”tober is overrated because during the spring you can climb AND botanize!

Sometimes when I’m caught up in the middle of a sport climbing binge at a very developed crag with minimal approaches and maximum access to conveniences (like redbox DVD rentals and Pho restaurants) I forget that the pursuit of “being outside” is one of those vague yet eternal desires that was one of the initial catalysts that drove me to break from my casual 2 day a week climbing routine at the gym and go outside. That motivation has been much more sharply defined as I’ve progressed as a sport climber and found- joyously- that it offers me pleasures, satisfactions and challenges unlike any other outdoor activity I have ever experienced. A stroll in the woods is one thing, a burn on your project is another.

So, occasionally I get hyper-focused and move about my surroundings like an automaton- going to the same crags and memorizing the beta on my project as well as I possibly can. This process of honing in on micro-details – like the way a feature in the rock is angled and at what temperature you climb your best at- can be very rewarding and also offers a nice break from the “big-picture” emphasis that society seems to throw at us- even in natural areas. Whenever I pick up a brochure it tends to be dominated by photos of vistas or landscapes rather than a unique detail (the Smith Rock state park brochure is a notable exception, it features a stoic Ian Caldwell on one of the area’s hardest routes..)  However, sometimes this micro-focus makes me lose that “panoramic” human vision and almost forget that I’m rock climbing outside and not in a gym.

Until I see a blooming flower. Yes! Even in the corners of the parking lot at Smith Rock or behind the Yosemite Valley store flowers bloom , are pollinated and go to seed. That fundamental ecological process is present everywhere I go and I sure do love to geek out about it. So, this post is going to be dedicated to the flowers that grace my travels and whose beauty and intricate complexities that I- as a moving mammal – completely depend on, am intrigued by and will never fully comprehend. I lack the vocabulary and artistic talent of our most famous naturalists and botanists, nor can I draw anything that even resembles a breathtaking image of a flower … but I do own a fancy DSLR that I sometimes aim toward flowers!

So then I , an average human being on this planet, offer what I can; here are some images of flowers that I saw on my drive to Smith Rock and in Central Oregon.

(Yeah yeah birds and animals are also cool-did you know a Golden Eagle nest can be up to 12 feet tall and weigh 2000 lbs?? thanks interpretive Smith Rock sign from the ’90s for that little slice of trivia!)

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