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Texas

Cool Spots In Your State

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Cool Spots In Your State

I live in Dallas, Texas, and I constantly hear people saying “Man I just need to move, there’s nothing to do here in Texas”. For me Dallas isn’t so bad. I love the city and the people here, but the lack of mountainous area is a bit frustrating. Luckily I stumbled across this awesome website called “OnlyInYourState.com” which lists areas within your state that you may or may not know of. The website is full of incredible things about all the states but I’ll list a few of my favorites from the site that I had no clue existed.

 

  • Westcave Preserve (Round Mountain) 

“Just 45 minutes outside of Austin, you'll find this gorgeous secluded grotto, situated among acres of thriving grasslands and enchanting canyons. It's definitely worth the drive!” 

 

 

  • Guadalupe Peak 

    “Part of the Guadalupe Mountains, this is the highest point in Texas at 8,750 feet.”

 

 

  • El Capitan

    “Another high point in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, this peak soars into the sky above standing at 8,064 feet.”

 

 

  • Emory Peak

    “Way out west in the Big Bend, you'll find the 7,825 foot tall Emory Peak, which is part of the Chisos Mountains.”

 

 

The website is full of amazing sites all over any state. The lists aren’t limited to just cool areas to visit either, it also has cool statistics, good places to eat, unique towns, and cool cultural places. Hopefully this helps with some new adventure ideas because I know I have several new places I want to go now. 

 

Article where I found these places: 

http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/texas/mountains-tx/

http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/texas/enchanting-spots-tx/

 

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Overcoming Fear.

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Overcoming Fear.

I first started rock climbing in a gym. Gym climbing can be scary at first. A lot of people have issues with the auto belay systems, but it’s an easy fear to overcome. I never had an issue with rock climbing being “scary” for me in a gym. The environment feels super safe mostly. The floors are these thick pads that cushion any kind of fall, the entire place feels like a foam house. When I started to get into lead climbing or “sport climbing” is when I got my first taste of fear.     

    I had been in my “Climb Fit” class for about 6 months, when my coach Mario put me on lead for the first time. A quick break down of “Top Rope" vs "Lead / Sport Climbing”: on top rope the rope is fixed either to anchors at the top of your climb or wrapped around a tube in a gym. Lead climbing is when you clip your rope to “quick draws” that attach to the wall. It’s still super safe, there’s just a small chance that you could fall and scare yourself. On my first time I was super clumsy with my clipping, but I was able to make it to the top. I got to the top and yelled “TAKE!” down to my belay partner which was Mario. “Take” is the universal word for the belayer to take up the extra slack. Mario however yelled back up “Nope!” in return. This turned into my first ever lead fall from the top of a route. I let go of the wall and fell about 10 feet before I felt the rope catch and I met Mario in mid air. This may sound scary and even reckless on Mario’s behalf, but in reality it was all very controlled and not nearly as crazy as I thought it was at the time. This is a tactic used to get over the fear of falling, because once you know how to fall you’re not afraid to go for big moves on lead climbs. It makes you a better climber in the end, it’s just the initial scare that sucks. 

    Fast forward 6 more months and my first chance to lead climb outside comes up in a trip with my friend Alec. We were headed out to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas. I went into the trip with the mind set that I would do awesome leading outside, because I had been crushing in the gym for 6 months. When it came down to it, I was petrified to leave the safety of the second clip and go 5 more feet to the 3rd clip on a 5.10a. It was heart breaking, not only was my confidence in my climbing severely diminished, but I had gone into this trip with a group who all thought I would be able to lead climb. I got through the rest of the Arkansas trip on top rope doing nothing harder than a 5.10c probably, and headed home with Alec and his family.     

    I got home and had to re-evaluate my climbing. I had finally realized the distinction between gym climbing and real rock climbing. I told myself that I was either going to get over my lead climbing anxiety or give up rock climbing as a whole. So I kept training in the gym on lead climbing with my coach. Three months later I had a short trip planned with him to get back outside and try leading another time. 

    We got out to the wall, and he tells me to warm up on a 5.9 before we do any hard stuff. Before I got on the wall, Mario told me to go through a mental check list of anything and everything that COULD go wrong in this climb, and I did. Broken legs, broken arms, getting knocked out, falling to the ground, literally everything I could think of. After I had named off everything that could go wrong he told me to say “That’s fine” to myself. After that, I hopped on the route and froze up on the second clip, but instead of freaking out and letting my mind wander from what I had to focus on, I just said “whatever” (Which is my version of "that's fine"). After that I was able to move my feet up and go onto the next holds. It’s kind of crazy when I think about it, that I can say “I could break my legs, and that’s ok”, but that’s the attitude that I think you need. I love what I do. I love the risk involved. And I love the feeling I get when I can overcome what my mind tells me is impossible with the word “whatever”. 

    These situations can be found in a lot of different scenarios besides rock climbing. If you’re trying to ask a girl (or guy) out on a date, and your mind is like “No way dude, are you kidding me? She could say no, or worse!”. But if you were to lay out all the negative things that COULD happen, and say “these aren’t that bad”, or just that you accept them, then you can overcome the fear you have. I think overcoming fear is necessary to grow as a person. If I hadn’t been able to overcome my fear of falling while lead climbing I wouldn’t be climbing right now, and I wouldn’t have this awesome web site that you’re reading this on now. From seemingly small internal victories come larger outward accomplishments.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
— Ambrose Redmoon

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DWS Trip to Lake Whitney, Tx

First off, "DWS" stands for deep water soloing. Deep water soloing is when you climb on rock that hangs over water without a rope, thus the "soloing" part of it. It's fairly safe as long as you fall into the water rather than scrape the rock on the way down. 

Lake Whitney is located in between Dallas and Waco and about an hour and a half from where I live. It's just close enough for us to do day trips without having to do the 4 hour drive to Austin. 

We met up at Summit Dallas climbing gym around 9:00am and left by 9:45. I've not done very many adventures this summer but in all but 1 my buddy Neil has been present. It's very important when you go on trips where you'll be exerting yourself and getting worn down you have someone who pairs well with your personality. Neil and I can usually make conversation out of anything and as a result there's never a dull moment. As we drive we're looking for some food and Neil reveals that he has never had Sonic in his 2 years living in the south. Obviously we had to give Neil his first Sonic experience. Now usually when you work out you want to fill your body up with nutritious foods that can be easily digested and don't cause any gastric distress. Sonic did not  follow these guidelines, and about 30 minutes after we ate both of us felt sick. But we're manly men so we got over it, we drove on. Finally crossing over Lake Whitney on a bridge we look across trying to scope out a good place to climb. We notice some decent spots and also that the water is fairly high so it would be definitely safe to climb in. We drive up to the Lake Whitney State Park and it has a gigantic "CLOSED" sign on it and a State Trooper truck parked on the side. One of my climbing buddies had been up to the Lake a week prior and told us we can just hop the rail and walk out to the lake, but with the sign saying "Violators will be Prosecuted" we decided to look around for someone to ask first. The only person we could find anywhere near the park building was a volunteer gardner named Carol. She explained that the park will be closed until November most likely, Contrary to what the Park's website which states it should be open by Aug. 31. She did however give us a different local spot to go to about 2 miles down the road across a dam. 

We get to the parking lot and unload our backpacks and get hiking to the spot. The approach isn't too bad actually. Neil had been to the spot once before and said that the brush had been trimmed back substantially which made the trek up not bad at all. You follow a trail along the cliff's edge, it rises as you walk and eventually stops at about 25-30 feet above the water. 

We unload our gear under a small tree, get our shoes on and jump in the water around noon. The water at the lake is up 8 feet from the heavy rains Texas experienced in March and April, which the picture above does not show. We tread water for a bit trying to find a decent spot to hop on the wall. Most of the Right side of the picture above is super overhung which eventually turns into a roof before you get to a vertical climb. We try a crack climb that looks promising for 30 minutes with no success and we continue down the to the edge. Around the corner we find the first good climb of the day. It starts in a crouching position with your feet smeared on super slippery slopes, which the climbing shoes are surprisingly great at gripping. You traverse over about a foot on a far right hand crimp and extend a left arm up for a super high pocket that you can rest on while you straddle the edge of the wall with your legs. The rest of the climb is pretty much slopers and the only way we were able to get up on the vertical portion of the climb was a high right heel hook and really pulling into the rock to a full stand. Not all the day was calm climbing though. About 2 hours into the climbing day I'm resting on a rock that juts out from the wall while Neil finishes a climb. As he swims over I do a pencil into the water which rips my hat and GoPro Hero4 off my head and down to the bottom of the lake. At that point I had been filming most of our climbs and had probably an hour-ish of footage on it which just sunk to what I thought was it's final resting place. Luckily, I was with THE Neil Fyda, who is a king amongst men. Neil takes an initial dive into the water and comes up and says "Wow that is deep" which only solidifies my fears. He follows that up with "If I have goggles I can get it". I'm thinking who in the middle of Nowhere, TX is going to have goggles on them randomly, and sure enough a guy and his girl friend come walking up. We yell up to them and ask if they happen to have goggles on them and the guy whips a pair out of his pocket. Neil plunges back into the murky abyss and emerges victoriously with my GoPro which is still recording. After that we decided that the head strap wasn't going to be good enough anymore so we used some of our climbing equipment to jury rig up a way to prevent future GoPro loss. 

2 Carabiners clipped to each other, my necklace, and the GoPro head strap.

Yes, that is 2 carabiners clipped together attaching themselves to the head strap and my necklace. Needless to say after the almost tragic loss, nothing the rest of the day could be that bad. We continue to shred fingers on sharp crimps trying to figure out different routes. We found another traverse route starting on a crack on the inside of the cove, about 5 feet to the left of a wooden latter that hangs down. It started as a weird knee bar to pressure yourself onto the wall for me, Neil was able just to muscle himself onto the ledge. Then, with Neil leading, we scoot our toes along tiny foot holds while holding onto 1 and 2 pocket finger holds. After about 10 feet of scooting along the side of the wall there are 2 pretty good slopers on the top of the wall with a very high left foot which feels terrible that finishes out the climb. In my opinion DWS can be some of the most frustrating climbing depending on where you are. You can be 10 feet through a climb miss a hand hold or have a wet foot slip off and have to restart the entire thing over. Not including the treading water for however long it takes you to get to a place to get out of the water, it can make for a very tiring day. Around 4:00pm Neil and I start winding down our climbing and swap to a little cliff diving with some of the locals. Sadly the area is covered in litter and broken glass, it made me glad that I had thick rubber sole shoes on. 

We packed it up and head back to the parking area around 5:00pm. After loading up the car we walk out to the "beach" area which is really just a cliff area that's been flooded by the 8 feet of extra water. It made for a nice ledge just deep enough for the water to go up to your neck. We probably sat there for a good hour talking to two guys who had brought their dogs out to the lake. We finish the day off with a sort of birthday dinner for myself at Matito's back in Dallas. We for sure had a great time on Lake Whitney.

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Climbing, the sport for those who try

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Climbing, the sport for those who try

I started rock climbing in the Fall of 2014 during a depressing time in my life. My last semester of school was pretty horrible, I was working a job that I didn't like at all, and a relationship with a girl that I had been seeing for a while ended. It was looking like nothing was going my way and that It wouldn't be going my way for a long while. On top of all of that I wasn't sleeping well, I had all my energy at night and none in the mornings. It all came to a head when I was sitting in my dad's office asking for advise about what I should do about not being able to sleep well and being so unhappy all the time. Luckily I have a father who can give it to me straight and he told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and to find something to throw myself at. He had been telling me for a few weeks to start rock climbing because it's a good way to work out without feeling like you're working out, and with my personality I usually have to trick myself into doing something that's hard but benefits me in the long run. That night after work I went to the closest climbing gym alone and in my mind I knew that I was going to make this work no matter what. Luckily enough the gym I went to has a training program called "Climb Fit" ran by a very charismatic coach, Mario Stanley, and I really think that if it weren't for Mario I would not still be climbing today, he really made climbing a do-able thing for me when it seemed like everyone who climbs is already good at it, which is the complete opposite of what climbing really is. 

A year later I'm still in Climb Fit with Mario working hard on becoming the best rock climber I can be, but I've learned a lot in a year. I've met new people who are also trying to better themselves which is an incredible thing when you think about it, these people could be spending their time at home watching TV and eating a microwave dinner, but instead they're in this loud gym, ripping their fingers on plastic holds training to either get in physical shape or to get in climbing shape to get outdoors on real rocks. Climbing may be one of the few sports that anyone can be good at. It really all depends on the route but if you train enough, and put enough effort into it anyone can climb what they want, it doesn't even really matter how tall you are. If you've ever seen a youth climbing team then you know that being tiny is almost better than being tall in climbing. There are even amputee's that climb, even professional climbers that are missing fingers like Tommy Caldwell who just climbed the Dawn wall in Yosemite. Climbing is a sport for people who have passion, who have mental discipline, and that try hard for the things they want. ANYONE can be a rock climber, it just takes the want to do it. I think that's why I love it so much, it's because everyone that's in the gym wants to be the best climber they can be. 

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to to great.
— Zig Ziglar

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