On a Friday afternoon in August of 2019 I came home from work and my husband surprised me with some camping plans. "Pack your bags, honey. We're going camping!" "Really?" I ask. "Yup, and rock climbing!" "Rock climbing?!" "Yes, with our neighbors Steven and Inna!" "How fun," I exclaimed, "but there's so much to do!" "Not to worry. Everything is packed and loaded in the trailer, all you need to do is pack your stuff." "Wow," I thought, how delightful is this?! So I hurried and packed my things and soon we were on our way east on I-90.
We were all so excited. You see a week prior to this we just picked up our new travel trailer. We traded in our Salem and opted for a shorter, more rugged trailer with higher clearance and a great suspension to get into the good spots with no problem. And the spot we were headed to was the exact type of spot we wanted to camp at. A spot where only car and tent campers went.
We pulled into our spot around 10pm. It sure wasn't an easy spot to get to, but thankfully we have the right truck and trailer set-up and Shane has had plenty of practice maneuvering into some tricky spots. The next morning we were greeted with such beautiful views. You can't really tell from the photos but we are on quite a steep slope.
After having a delightful breakfast, we packed up some snacks and headed out to go climbing right outside our door. Our neighbor, Steven, geared us up and gave us the lowdown on how to stay safe while climbing. He’s been climbing for quite some time and is passionate about the sport so we felt safe with both him and his wife, Inna.
Soon we geared up and gave it a try. Steven made it look so easy, but let me tell you, it was quite a physical and mental challenge. "You need to use your leg strength," he reminds us, "not your arms." Taylor and Keoni did pretty well on their first try, although Keoni was the only one who made it to the top. "The mistake people make on their first climb is that they exhaust their upper body strength because they use their arms and not their legs." "Easy to remember that," I tell myself.
As I made the climb and got a little past a quarter of the ways up, I got to a face where I needed to maneuver to the other side to ascend higher and in doing so, I exhausted my upper body strength and found my arms shaking and cramping. I couldn't hold on to the rock longer than a second. "I can't go any further," I yelled down feeling a little ashamed. "It's okay," everyone cheered. "Not bad for your first try." Shane had the same experience. Determined, Taylor wanted another shot. This time, on the opposite side. She made it! And so did Keoni. Again. Such troopers these kids!
After a long day climbing, we returned to the trailer. We were hungry. And tired. I made some tacos and we ate to our hearts content. The kids took a short nap and Shane and I sat out and enjoyed the scenery the rest of the afternoon. It's a totally different world on the other side of the mountains in Washington. Think desert. With possible snake encounters. Thankfully, though, we had no such encounters.
Before the sun went down we decided to move the trailer off of the steep slope to a flatter and leveled surface as the winds started to pick up. Vantage is famous for strong winds so if you're planning to make a trip here, come prepared and don't leave your awning out if you plan to head out for some climbing.
The next morning we woke, had breakfast and headed out once again to climb. This time on another wall. It. Was. CRAZY. And this time I made it to the top. I had to constantly tell myself not to use my upper body strength the whole way up. It's truly a mental challenge because naturally you want to pull yourself up rather than push your way up so you have to pause and constantly remind yourself at every single step of the way up. Shane also made it up pretty high on his attempt that day. So did our kids. They were such natural climbers and really amazed me with their strength and determination.
When evening came, we dined in with a view and later gazed at the star filled sky. It was a great first experience rock-climbing.
We hitched up the next morning and made our way home. It was a beautiful weekend spent together and I couldn't have been happier.