So my company was hit pretty hard by COVID-19, and instituted a 10% furlough program. Reduced pay, but balanced by various furlough days scattered throughout the year… primarily around holidays. July 4th was one of those, which meant that I had Thursday through Monday off from work – the 2nd through the 6th. Five full days for adventure!
My original plan was to drive out to City of Rocks in Idaho. I reserved a campsite maybe two weeks beforehand, and started planning out what to bring, and what route to take.
But… It’s a 10 hour drive, shortest route. 11, by the route I was thinking of taking. And that doesn’t include stops for gas, food, and the stretch breaks that I’d absolutely need on a trip that long. I kept trying to talk myself into it, but in the end I just talked myself out of the trip.
I canceled the reservations, and put together a new plan. A staycation, full of relaxation, organizing my new apartment, and re-aquainting myself with the Pacific Northwest…
Monday dawned brighter and earlier than I would have liked. I’d had a heck of a time falling asleep the night before, and getting up and mobile was particularly challenging… as it tends to be after four days of vacation and eating lots of great food. But I mobilized, got showered, and started packing myself up for the days adventure!
The night before, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d went through the various guidebooks that I have and picked out the adventure of the day. I wouldn’t be going back to the Garden, but instead heading East, to a volcanic remnant on the slopes of Hood called French’s Dome.
I’d heard about the Dome before, from a few different people, but for some reason had never actually made the trip out to climb it. It’s not like it’s far, either… turns out, it was the closest of the various options! A fact that definitely contributed to choosing it.
I had another happy breakfast of avocado english muffins and seared ham, finished packing up the car, and headed into the great wild… after stopping at the post office and REI for some quick errands.
But I made it with tons of daylight to spare, and started in with my bouldering pad and trad gear. Not that I expected to be doing any roped climbing, of course, but it had been so long since I’d placed gear that I figured a refresher course was absolutely in order… if only to remind myself that I do feel confident placing gear in rocks.
Well, first off, French’s Dome is beautiful, and beautifully close to the road. Seriously, it was less than 5min walk. Downhill, even. The drive itself wasn’t bad either, but was still just a bit over an hour. Combine those two, and I think I may have a new favorite after-work climbing place here in Oregon! Which… is kind of sad, comparing it to Hammond Pond in terms of distance, or Quincy Quarries in terms of variation of routes…
But you know what? Gift horses and mouths, as the saying goes, and I was just happy to have found a fun area!
I set up the crash pad, and started working the starts of a few routes. French’s is actually set up nearly perfectly for long bouldering, because the pinnacle is up on a steep slope, which has been terraced to avoid erosion. Because of that, I could get 50ft bouldering lines in, while staying less than 8 feet off the ground! I couldn’t bring my crashpad with me the whole way, which stunk, but it was still a really awesome chance to work on my footwork and endurance.
I stayed later than I had planned, only leaving when the mosquitos started coming out and my stomach was reminding me that I hadn’t brought quite enough snacks.
I’ll be back soon, I promise.