I don't know how it happened, but I was teaching my class the other day and we got onto the topic of weird, creepy things. I'm not going to say I was completely on task in Social Studies class that day, but a teacher gets away from herself now and again when the story of the Donner Party pops up around Halloween. It's definitely not up as high as the Zombie Apocalypse or the difference in Trad climbing v. Sport climbing, but the Donner Party definitely ranks on topics that will get Miss Ellis on a tangent. Anyways, it's a historical reference, so technically I was on point.
So we had a little story time. Just like the good old days minus the camping out and flashlights and axe murderers. We threw in a little science, talking about organ donors and transplants, etc. It was probably my best lesson to date.
Anyways, I told them about this summer when I went out to Donner Lake....sort of. Anytime you can combine rock climbing and the Donner party in one story, its a total win.
This was my last outing before I had to leave California. I was totally psyched! Climbing! TAHOE! Lakes and trees and Jon!
The great thing about my little visit to the west is, once again, the people. THE PEOPLE THE PEOPLE THE PEOPLE! They're awesome! One of my new friends from my backpacking trip in Yosemite, Brian, invited Jon and I out to visit his lake house. Now, on the east coast this is a prime set up for a bad scary movie. West Coast, just another day of unexpected hospitality. I've known the guy for a week at this point. We were facebook official within a day and sleepover party friends by the end of the week. Love.
This guy rivals Irish Eric, except there were no lattes. Not only did he put Jon and I up in his lake house, but he offered to drive us out to our climbing spot since he had something a little more rustic than the old Kia Rio...
And just like any story that starts at Donner Lake, it got a little crazy and a little creepy. Driving out to this area:
was ridiculous! We got lost on "roads?" The question mark is on purpose. I don't know if you could call these dirt paths roads. They weren't even flat. It was like riding through one of those jeep commercials where they're climbing over boulders and avoiding deer and splashing through rivers. I think Brian was a little lost, but the directions seemed so clear...
The GPS gave up on us almost immediately. Rerouting my rear end...
Remarkably, nothing about the Donner Party came to mind while we were lost in the forest on a road a GPS couldn't find. Neither did the fact that the man driving was known to me and Jon for only a week. Because one does not think of such things when you are in sunny Cali.
If you're a climber and you're looking over these descriptions, I want to let you know the rock was awesome. Everything was a touch bouldery to the first move and I was all on my lonesome without my usual climbing people. I sketched out a bit. Thank goodness for Jon. We started climbing at the same gym years ago, and while we separated and Jon became cooler than me and moved, first to Chic New York, then to Hippy Heaven California, I knew we both had the basic foundation for climbing. You have no idea what a thought grenade climbing can be.
THERE IS NOTHING SCARIER than literally putting your life in someone's hands when you don't know them. Or even worse, when you know them and you question their abilities. Here Jon, hold this rope and make sure I don't deck and kill myself. Talk about a trust fall...
I love you Jon. Thanks for letting me survive.
Finally out climbing and running my sport leads, I was so happy. This is what I think about when I'm in a funk. I try to remember the rush of fear, the comradery of strangers staring at a cliff that only climbers really understand. The baking of the sun and the bluest sky. And...*cough cough* the glorious muscles of shirtless men. (just saying)