As many of you many already know, I work as a traveling Physical Therapist Assistant. I talked to many Physical Therapists who traveled and they all gave me the same advice: do it while you are single. So I took their advice and have been working as a contractor the past 1.5 years. This is a job that allows me to work in different states for an average of 3 months and then take extended vacations. Everyone always asks me the same question, “What do you do on your 2-3 month vacations?” Well my friends, I have decided to let you in on my whereabouts.
My last day of work was on Friday July 28 in Aiken, SC. I drove up to Greenville, SC friday evening, packed up a bunch of stuff and took off the following morning with Ben, Anna, and Bomber (their dog). They invited me for a week of rock climbing and white water kayaking in West Virginia. This was going to be awesome!
Our first destination was Seneca Rocks. This place is absolutely amazing! It’s shaped kind of like a thin knife sticking out of the ground, wide but very narrow. Spectacular climbs, awesome exposure with sheer drop offs on both sides, and easy ratings in many areas make this place an absolute must for noobs like me who want to get better at climbing.
These 2 pics above are borrowed from google images.
Seneca Rocks requires roughly a 2 mile hike to get to the wall from the campsite. As you can see, the campsite is well maintained and a great place to camp. Oh, for one exception. There are 2 local skunks that call the campground home. Get this, one night Anna let Bomber out to use the bathroom and what does the guy do? Yep, ran straight for the skunk and got sprayed. I was out cold and did not hear the commotion of Ben getting up at night and cleaning Bomber up. Ben somehow managed to find an open store in the rural mountains of West Virginia at night. That in itself is a feat of its own. He managed to get the necessary stuff to clean Bomber to the point of zero skunk smell. I forgot what he used, something along the lines of unicorns and fairy dust… you’ll have to ask him for details because Anna swears that Bomber has NEVER smelled so good since the day they got him. After that fiasco, we took off climbing. Let me tell you, Ben barely slept because of Bomber, and yet the next day led several pitches of the route like it was no big deal. The former mountaineering guide at his best!
Anna did amazing! Many of you may not be aware but she is 3 months pregnant and rocking it out there on the routes. Of course Ben chose only the safest routes for her but she still crushed. There was a funny moment when we were racking up and Anna struck up a conversation with a group of other climbers. They found out she was pregnant and were like, “That’s awesome! Last time we were here there was another pregnant rock climber. I think she was like 8 months pregnant or something…” Anna was like, “Well then. I just got trumped.” That mysterious lady stole Anna’s thunder.
We climbed many other routes the next couple days and each day became easier to conquer my fear of lead climbing. I have not done serious climbing in like forever and performed like a total noob as a result. However, Seneca Rocks is forgiving and shows leniency. One of my favorite climbs was Gunsight to South Direct 5.4. The climb was easy but the views and exposure were amazing!!! The next few pics are borrowed from Mountainproject.com since I broke my cell phone, again.
The other close contender for an awesome climb was Pleasant Overhangs. I don’t know how in the world it’s rated as a 5.7. It’s the scariest 5.7 that I ever climbed. I’m going to be honest, if it wasn’t for Ben leading it, I would have pumped out mid way, said my prayers, and fallen to my doom. Some more pics from MountainProject.
Overall Seneca Rocks was an awesome learning experience. Despite me making some mistakes and climbing like a little girl at times, no one got hurt and I had a blast! I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.
We had to take a transition day to Cheat River. Along the way we stopped by Seneca Caverns. Really neat place and a chilly 54 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t know what that is in Celcius and that’s ok cuz i live in ‘MERICA!!! Established 1776.
Anyways, here are some pics of the cave.
Both pics above are from Flicker and whereverimayroamblog.com respectively.
I can’t stop laughing at this one of me. I don’t know what it is but I look like a such a dork!
We eventually made it to our campsite called Cheat Canyon Campground. Seneca Rocks spoiled us because this place was overgrown and had poison ivy everywhere. But we didn’t complain much, $5 a night was a really good deal.
We had a good team when it came to food. Everyone contributed and we ate like kings!
Ben said he was fixing the boat but I think he forgot how to correctly climb into the kayak.
Anna and Ben trained all summer at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte NC in preparation for this vacation. One word to describe them: Pros! They crushed the class 3’s. See pics below.
Then it was my turn with Ben leading the way, sort of.
Ben is like, “Follow my Lead!”
Then I overtake Ben accidently and… fail.
Here is a short youtube video: Class 3+ Fail
I rolled so many times on that river in the beginning. I had to pull the skirt like 3x but it was so much fun when I finally got the hang of navigating the rapids at the very end.
We had a transition day and drove all the way back to Spartanburg, SC to drop off Bomber in order to go kayaking on the Chattooga River.
Some pics along the way:
This one brought back lots of great memories. We drove by many small towns in Virginia where I resupplied during the A.T. hike.
Ben tried to get Bomber in on the picture action but he was having none of it!
The following day we went to an outfitter on the Chattooga River and rented a “rubber duckie” for Anna and myself. It’s a 2 person rubber kayak. Let me tell you, if you’ve never white water kayaked, rent one of those. SUPER easy to navigate through class 3 rapids.
We came across a little waterfall and decided to play around.
Ben went first:
We eventually made it to the very last rapid, Bull Sluice. A class 4 monster that took me over it’s knee and repeatedly spanked me. I only conquered it once out of like 5 tries.
Here is Ben one pic at a time:
That pic is SOOO Epic! You can only see his helmet!
If you hang in there, it eventually spits you out no problem.
Here is a short video of him: Ben on the Bull
And last but not least, me 🙂
Nothing but epic fails haha!
I’ll just post only one video clip cuz they are very painful to watch: Bull Sluice Fail
That wraps up my first week of vacation. Huge thanks to Ben and Anna for inviting me.