Catskills ≠ Mapskills

And so it began. Another road trip. The Nate Lucas and I took off from Baldwinville, MA Easter Morning. The sun was shining; the birds were chirping,;Jesus was rising. Nate said his final farewells to his mom and girlfriend before we hopped into the dented 1996 Volvo headed west.

"Go west young man," Horace Greeley once said. And so we went West. We had early on elected to use maps instead of relying on the modern convenience of GPS. Our main navigation was the 2004 Discovery Channel Road Atlas. As we meandered on Highway 2 through the Berkshires, and the Millers River valley, towards the Catskills Mountings, the picturesque rolling hills sides were beginning to bud as the world woke from its winter slumber. The Who and the Kooks blasted through the speakers as Nate ate leftover Easter eggs.

I thought we were making good time as we crossed into New York. Unbridled by confidence, we decided to drive through the Catskills. A small town, Phoenicia, is known to have a small sandstone sport crag. How could we not stop there? The 2004 atlas directed us, accurately, to the down town where Nate and I parked near the post office. It was 80 and sunny, like a mid-2000s June. A short but steep approach (maybe a mile) left both of us gasping for air, but unwilling to admit that we may be out of shape. The wall was short, maybe 50 feet, and full of shelves that appeared to have grippy crimps and cracks all the way up. Confidently, for the first climb of the year, I geared up, ready to scamper Niether, a 5.9 with a mini roof after the fourth bolt.

As I climbed, my hands felt sloppy. I squirmed my way to the first, second, third clip. A solid shelf left me standing eight feet below the next clip. I found a small crimp for my left hand, matched my right before reaching towards another hand in a left crack. I felt solid looking for my next move, when the rock broke away from my left hand. I whipped, passing the previous clip 10 feet, scraping my knees against the wall. Nate caught me just above another shelf, I looked at my hands. My knuckles were bleeding. I gave Neither a few more good attempts before leaving the carbiners on the wall. Nate jumped on Elipsid, the 5.7 an anchor over. Two clips up, he locked up in fear. Two more biners lost to the wall. This could not be the case. I took on Elipsid, the first clean climb of the trip. After setting the top rope, Nate completed easily as well. We still had to rescue the Niether caribiners. Heroically, Natty Ice traversed across to the other anchor, clipped to the bolts. All gear was salvaged. The climb left us feeling ready to climb more, but knowing we need to get back on the road and back into shape.

The goal of the day was to make it to Kent, Ohio to meet our friend Caroline. We were right on track until our 2004 atlas failed us. The Pennsylvania countryside was beautiful until we found ourselves in Callicoon, back at the New York border. "NOOOOOOO" Nate and I screamed in unison, cursing the Gods as we asked the local Hotel bartender,Carrie, for directions back to the Highway. The Gods responded by dumping a layer of rain on us. We had wanted to jump on Route 6 but surrendered ourselves to taking the interstate the rest of the way. By the time we got to Kent, it was nearly 1am. Exhausted, we were greeted by our good friend Caroline. Crashing on the floor, drained, we went to bed happy and content in the presence of a familiar friend. The first day of the journey meandering and successful.

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