Saturday, December 24, 2016

"Bouldering" and thoughts of travel.

The travel bug hit.

I just talked to my younger son and his family, Floridians spending Christmas in Stockholm. On the 26th they fly up to the Arctic Circle for a stay in an Ice Hotel. They’ll venture far into the forest for dinner around a campfire in the snow. When it’s time to leave the Arctic, they will go to the airport by dogsled. I hope it’s cold enough up there for them to get the feel of the place in the dead of winter.

My older son, who lives in Tokyo, is on his way north with his family for a ski vacation.

I’m about to bundle up and go for a long walk in the foothills close to home at Horsetooth Reservoir. While I walk, I’m going to think about some travel plans. At a Christmas celebration I attended, conversation revolved around people’s adventures in faraway places and their future plans for seeing this great big world. It made me feel as if I’d been close to home for too long.

Maybe I’ll get over that. But maybe, one of these days, I’ll find a “deal” on the Internet that I can’t pass up and I’ll be outa here.

Meanwhile, it’s out my front door.

I’m back with mud on my shoes and curiosity about bouldering, a sport I hardly knew existed. It started when I saw a guy with what looked like an oversize mattress strapped to his back making his way down a steep, narrow path toward Horsetooth Reservoir.

“What’s that? I couldn’t help myself.

“It’s a mat to keep you from getting hurt when you fall. We’re going bouldering.”

A few minutes later, I met a man and woman with similar mats preparing to head down the same path. Curiosity got to me again.

I learned that bouldering is rock climbing without ropes or harnesses and can be done with no equipment at all. Turns out most “boulderers” wear special shoes to secure footholds, carry chalk to keep their hands dry and bring along bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls.

“Do you use the mats much?”

“Oh. All the time. We fall a lot.”

Turns out this sport can become obsessive. It’s usually rock climbers who are attracted to it. “It can be simple or very complex and technical,” I was told. “Most people eventually go back to rock climbing but some become obsessed with bouldering.”

I also learned that Horsetooth Reservoir, only a few miles from downtown Fort Collins has been called “The home of modern American bouldering.” There are hundreds of routes and “boulder problems” within ten minutes of my house. Who would have known?

It was a good walk. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be strapping a bouldering mat to my back any time soon, but it sure was interesting.

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