Weekend of 23Jun – A few days up at the Loj


Friday, 22Jun12 through Sunday, 24Jun12


It had been a hot week. No, “hot” doesn’t really cover it… This was New England heat – 97+ Fahrenheit, with 80% + humidity. If you’ve never lived in New England, this is much like what it’s like inside of that pressure cooker that your grandparents would use to cook potatoes. Except that you are the potatoe. And it’s not pleasant, or buttery.

Thankfully I had planned out an escape from the heat – heading to the Loj with my friend Alex. Her and I were planning on trying for some rock climbing, with the backup of hiking if it rained, and I was very much looking forward to the chance to get to hang out away from Medway. Job-searching is important, but it’s just as important to sneak away every once in a while to recharge the batteries.

To be honest, this drive to the Loj was one of the memorable ones – Not only did I not have to drive (thank you Alex!) but I had another climber to chatter on with. We talked routes, gear, and things that would probably have bored any non-climber to tears within the first few minutes. It was relaxing, exactly what I needed after a week full of melting heat and stressful job hunting.

When we walked into the Loj I got pulled into a “spirited discussion” almost immediately;

“BEN! Help us with this! Life or death!”

“Ok… what is it?”

Who was Obi Wan Kenobi’s Master?!?!

Yep. For a good portion of that night, I sat in on a game of Star Wars Trivial Persuit – made even more entertaining by the fact that it was from before the prequels… and thus had the “old” canon to it, some things that had been changed since the game had been released. My friend Peter and I spent more than our fair share of time mocking people for their lack of Nerd Cred, before Alex finally hauled me away to try and make some plans for the weekend.

The rest of the night was spent pouring over climbing books, trying to pick out which routes we wanted to try out the next day… assuming the rain held off that is. And even after Alex headed off to bed, I stayed up on the couch reading through the hundreds of routes nearby… remembering some, and dreaming of the rest.


Saturday morning took it’s time rolling around. That night was horrible – the loj was sticky and hot, and for one reason or another I was not ready to pass out. I spent the night tossing and turning, getting sleep in short snatches only a few minutes long.

At one point I was shocked back to conciousness by someone in the bunk nearby having a full-on Night Terror – I wasn’t exactly sure what to do, and thankfully someone else knew to kick the poor kid awake before his screams woke the rest of the Loj. Seriously, I thought someone was being murdered.


The sun did finally break over the horizon, but of course it was just as I was finally settling into a clean rhythm of sleep. But adventure was calling, and so I made myself a tall mug of the most vile-tasting instant coffee I could find and slowly started waking myself up.

Breakfast quickly became a staging area for Alex and I – pulling out the climbing books, maps, and notes we had taken the night before. We finally settled on going to Cathedral and climbing a super-classic route (one of the “best in New England”, according to the guide) called Black Lung. Once that was decided and lunch was packed, we were on the road within half an hour – a rather impressive start if I may say so.

<See post: Weekend of 23Jun – Climbing at Cathedral and Rumney for specifics on the climbs>

We got back to the Loj early – really early for me. Usually I arrive back just in time to stop being from sending out a search party to find me, but this time Alex and I were the second group back, stepping over the doorstep only a few minutes after 16:00.

We spent the afternoon relaxing – listening to the radio on Mark’s old-school boombox, reading, swimming in the swimming hole, and just kicking back and chatting about everything we could think of. Soon enough we were starting dinner, eating dinner, and everyone was settling into their normal Loj routines.

My evening broke down pretty cleanly into three segments – Nerdy, Climby, and Introspecty.

Nerdy was, not surprisingly, a nerd-fest. Peter, Tim and myself geeked about about Diablo 3, bragging about our characters, and what part of the game we were on at the time. It’s true: even adventurers can be nerds.

Climby found Alex and myself stuck to the couch going over various routes and climbing areas, picking and choosing things that we could do over the next few months. Excellent, but a bit too exciting for an evening event – I left the couch wanting to climb El Capitan, instead of being sleepy.

Introspecty involved myself, a chair outside, a cigar, and a small glass of scotch. I’d been ages since I’d had a good cigar-night, and so I took myself away from the hubbub of the Loj for a while and let my thoughts flow around as I sipped the scotch and took slow drags on the cigar.

And, needless to say, my sleep that night was perfect and refreshing. Funny how an active day, followed by a relaxed night, can do that.


Usually, there isn’t really much to say about Sunday. This Sunday started out the same as any – Everyone woke up a bit late, dragged their feet through the closing proceedures, and we delayed leaving as long as we could. But once that we on the road Sunday swerved into the far lane, breaking out from the usual “blah go back to Boston”.

Instead, we started out with a bit of cliff-diving. You know… to keep things boring. Heh. I wish I could say that I dove into the water with the sun shining behind me, as dozens of bikini-models cheered in the background. Instead, I was the one sitting in the sun and cheering as Alex dove in – I was explaining my aversion away by saying it was cold, I didn’t want my dreads to get too wet… dozens of reasons. But looking back, I kind of wish I had jumped in… Lesson for everyone: If life gives you a chance for adventure and awesome? Take it every time.

After heading out from the cliffs, we headed to the other cliffs in the area: good old Rumney. Over the years I’ve climbed more routes than I can count at Rumney, but every time I go I somehow find something new to challenge myself on. This time was no different, and between Alex and I we both pushed our limits rather spectacularly over the course of the day.

<See post: Weekend of 23Jun – Climbing at Cathedral and Rumney for specifics on the climbs>

When we finally finished climbing, and dried off from the swimming that came after, everyone packed into the car and we started the long and boring road back to Boston. Aside from being scared by the time (it was barely getting dark, but was already 21:40) and stopping in for Burger King (yummy and horrid all at the same time!) the drive was pretty relaxing – Alex and I chatted, while Adam and Liz slept in the back seat.

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