Daniel’s Quarter-Century Birthday weekend

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02-Aug-13 through 04-Aug-13

Since it’s Daniel’s birthday weekend, we decided to work with his tradition of going camping in New Paltz, and doing some climbing at the Gunks.  This year it was just a small group of us climbers: Daniel, Erin, myself, and two new friends I’d met through my hunt for a roommate – Anna and Meghan.  The trip was clean and simple: drive up Friday, camp, climb, do dinner at a local brewery, and then climb some more on Sunday before driving home.

Friday, 02-Aug-13

  • Instead of driving into work and leaving direct, I got the chance to bike thanks to Anna and Meghan, who were driving out to New Paltz with me.  We were all meeting at my place around five, and for once actually got on the road fairly quickly – we didn’t rush, but still had the car fully packed up by 5:30, and we hit Route 2 by 6:00.
  • We take the simple road – Route 2, to 95, to I-90.  Clean… but kinda boring.  Thankfully the traffic is intermittent and sparse
  • Stopping for dinner… Ohh man.  We are not good at this
    • First attempt: Amherst exit.  Looking for a small-town diner style place… no luck.  Instead we find murdertown.  Seriously, pretty sure that this tiny random town is, in fact, named murdertown.  Because they’ll murder us.
    • Move on down the highway, and pull of at the next legit exit.  Find a cool pub-style place and go in.  Instead of normal food, it’s all seafood (Which the girls are not down with) and is entirely populated by 65+ year old people.  Singing Karaoke.  Singing karaoke poorly.  We bail.
    • We give up, and stop in at Friendly’s.  It’s not horrible, but after 20min we fall into the “friendly’s zone” where we can’t think, are tired and lazy, and are incapable of doing the basic math required to give a tip.  It’s horrid.
  • Finally get back on the road, but keep the top down due to the cold and the rain.  Booooo
  • The drive is long, and full of boring.
  • Finally arrive!  Run into (not literally) Erin as we drive into the campground.  Give her a ride to the bathroom in return for directions to the damn campsite.
  • Find campsite.  Set up tents.  Acquire sleep.

Saturday, 03-Aug-13

  • Anna had said that she would be awake by 6:00, and we would have all the breakfast we could eat.  She was not telling the truth.  We do all get moving by 9:00 though, and Daniel is kind enough to scramble up some eggs… after a bit of prodding and my promise that I’d brew tea.
  • Tea is sipped.  Eggs consumed.  A slow breakfast and morning is enjoyed by all as we pick what gear to bring, what gear to leave in the car, and what foods should be brought with us for climbing sustenance.
  • Finally move on the climbing – Meet Matt and Mike at the visitors center, pay for our day passes, and start up the thighmaster
    • Note: thighmaster.  When parking at the visitor’s lot at the Gunks, you must train on the thighmaster.  It’s a staircase.  That goes up a few hundred feet from the parking lot to the climbing area.  It’s horrible.  And amazing.  And now, after traversing it, I have thunder-thighs.
  • Daniel’s picked out a pretty solid place to start in on – some toproped 5.7’s near the beginning of the climbing area.  It’s a bit of a walk from the stairs, but it’s a good cooldown after the stairmaster workout.  I watch the gear while the rest of the crew goes up top to set anchors and rappel down.
  • Climbing on a Saturday!
    •  Katzenjammer (5.7) – Top Rope – this was a fun face climb… nothing too crazy about it, but it was a solid climb for people to really cut their teeth on.
    • The Brat, Direct (5.7) – Top Rope – Kinda straightforward if you’re used to the gunks… hellish if you’re not.  Daniel ended up speed-climbing it in 45s… some of the others didn’t even make it.  It’s kinda impressive how much technique and being used to a route helps!
    • Some random bouldering was had around the base, but nothing too much.
    • No Picnic (5.5) – Trad Lead – Daniel took this one as his birthday climb… and damn was it awesome!  Really good climbing with solid protection from what I could tell – really good juggy moves, though there was one big disconnected block halfway up that was more than a bit sketchy.
  • After a full day of climbing, we head back into town – Gilded Otter time!  Since it’s Daniel’s birthday, a few other people have driven up too; we all link up at an outside table and order up a bounty of food.  It’s amazing, and good times are had by all.
  • Shots are bought for Daniel.  Daniel consumes shots.  Daniel is either lying about his consumption of shots (doubtful, since we all witnessed it) or he somehow has gained a tolerance for booze.  Either option is concerning.  More shots are bought.
  • Dessert is eaten, plates are cleared and a bill is paid.  From here, some people leave for their warm homes, while the rest of us head back to the campsite.  Anna, Meghan and I stop for firewood on the way, but still manage to beat Daniel and Erin back to camp.
  • After arriving back at the camp, I set to the task of building an epic birthday fire… a first worthy of a drunken Daniel and a bottle of scotch.  I succeed, as one should expect, almost exactly as Daniel and Erin arrive and park next to the campsite.
  • We all hang out, relax, chat, and have a merry time.  Erin gives Daniel his birthday presents, one of which is a flask.  The flask is enjoyed in combination with my fancy bottle of scotch and a few oreo cookies before we all give up and go to bed.
  • Instead of sleeping in the tent though, I unroll a sleeping pad and sleep next to the fire.  It is perfect and heavenly.

Sunday, 04-Aug-13

  • We start the day out a bit later than previously – since we’re not meeting anyone at the cliffs we’re in no major hurry to get moving.
  • Camp gets packed while breakfast cooks.  It’s the usual eggs and tea, but Anna, Meghan and I head to the campground store to get us all some coffee… it’s much necessary, and quite nice.
  • Once camp is fully shoved back into the cars we get a move on – parking down at the visitor’s center lot again, and starting the long trek up the thighmaster toward the climbing area.
  • Today, we’re aiming for some of the routes we’d missed the day before, specifically…
    • Easy Keyhole (5.2) – Trad Lead – Daniel took this one… sort of.  He took forever.  It was sad.  But in all honesty, the route was kinda manky and strange… no really good holds from what I could tell (I never got onto it), and the gear placement left much to be desired
    • Black Fly (5.5) – Trad Lead – I lead this one… but not with our group.  We were next to a cool European team who ended up bailing off right near the end, so I was able to run up the bottom and finish it out, bringing their gear down right before some rain spatters hit.
  • From here, the rain pushed Meghan, Anna and myself to cut to the chase and head home – Meghan needed to be back before it got too late,  so we said our goodbyes and gave Daniel a final happy birthday, and then hit the highway back to Boston.

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