It was a warm Sunday morning in the middle of December and Joel, Dane-O and I decided to go out for a nice hike. I picked Tumalo Falls as a great, unfinished hike that I would like to knock out. It was a festive mood as we and the two dogs drove out Skyliner to the bridge where the winter trailhead would start. We got into great conversations about the Weather Underground and future politics. Dane-O is Minnasota Conservative. Joel and I are slightly more liberal. Which makes for fun, sparing spoken word. We always keep it in pretty good nature, but there are times when agreeing to disagree is the best part of the arguement.
As we drove out, we noticed there was a bit more snow on the sides of the road than we were expecting. We got to the trailhead and made a decision to stay on the snow-packed road rather than take the trail across the creek. The decision was a total pussy decision. We all knew it deep down. The dogs were flying up and down the road, chasing each other and letting cornrow snow fly from their paws. After a mile or so, Joel brought up the cliffs high on the valley wall above us. The terrain was steep. The terrain was packed with Manzinita and small pine. The terrain didn't appear to have any trails.
After we all acknowledged walking on this snowy road was lame and we needed to get out of the pussy mode we were in, Joel brought up the cliffs again. He said we could head up on an expeditionary recon into these rocks. We had both heard from different people that their were bolted routes out on these crags and were in the 5.12 to 5.11 level. We didn't see much of a way up except through the manzanita.
For those of you not familiar with good ol' manzi, it's a thick bush with lots of smooth, small branches. They are not strong, but they do scratch. Never wear shorts into a field of manzi, it will annoy you to no ends.
Joel wanted to lead the "trail." Joel's trails or shortcuts are to be avoided at all cost. There is always a minimal amount of pain you will endure somewhere on the excursion. It's just something you have to accept. I tried to give a briefing on this to Dane-O, but the path he was following Joel into spoke silent volumes. He quickly told me to shut up and asked why, if we knew this was coming, did we let Joel do it? I explained that the depths of Joel's Bitchiness when he doesn't get his way on these things knows no depths or boundaries. It's just better to go along. Plus, sometimes it creates drama out of void. Creation from nothing.
Joel started a fun game that we got to play until we broke into the rocks near the top. It basically consisted of finding the largest manzanita bush in the immediate area and plowing directly through the middle of it. The score by the top was 2 missed bushes and 45 successful bushes. Joel almost had a perfect game going. He lost concentration when we asked annoying questions like "Where is Joel? Joel? JOEL?" The dogs were flying up and around at mach speed having a blast chasing us and each other. They seemed to be the only ones who didn't have a problem with Joel's trail.
It felt good to be out. To breathe the cold air and be hiking out on a day where it normally would have been impossible to be out doing what we were doing without gear. Dane was having a great time navigating the brush. It must help to cuss and moan like a little bitch all the time because Dane-O was doing a lot of it. I took is as part of the conservative side in him conflicting with his true feelings of good.
We made it to the cliffs and explored around. I had been coming in with a pulled ligament in my forearm and I was burning to feel some rock moving under my hands. Had I been healthy, Joel and I would have been out at Smith Rock, not hiking out Tumalo looking for some bolts on some rocks. We moved steadily up and out of the manzanita and hopped onto the cliff band we had been looking for. It was a sweet little victory just to be up there.
The sky was beautiful. You could see clouds rolling around the sky in fleeting wisps. It was a good feeling day. We found a pinnacle that was standing off to the side of the cliff band at the top. Joel wanted to call it Spidermonkey Face. It didn't get resounding endorsement from the rest of us. But why not, right? Why not just name it something as we know it since we have never heard what it is called by the "founding fathers" of the cliffs. And this pinnacle had some bolts in it!