One thing about Hawaii is this: it marks you up. I’ve come home from trips there and between the tan and bruises and weird light hair and nagging feeling that just out of view, behind a building or just down a hill is uninterrupted blue ocean forever, it’s hard to shake the Hawaii feeling. I have an ugly, perfect purple triangle bruise on my trunk from a collision, and darker, denser freckles than I’ve ever seen, even on my eyelids. Pretty much a marked woman, and hopefully it will last a while longer. I’m not ready to let go.
I got back to LA and drove to El Paso, stopping on the way for a night in Flagstaff, where Carrie’s father in law gave me some delicious chicken pot pie and showed me a video he made with a friend in Hanalei a few years ago.
But it was too soon for me, and I got a bit emotional. The video is cute, and features all the little sites around town, most of which I haven’t been to because, as my parents said, you can’t DO anything in Hawaii until you’ve spent ten days in a row at the beach.
But eventually I made it to El Paso and collapsed at Wallace’s house. We climbed for an afternoon then I headed on to Austin. Wallace is just coming back from a year long rest, and I was exhausted, so we were a good match. The day was odd. Like, twilight zone odd. For one, we walked onto North Mountain on a Sunday in January, after reading on facebook all about the lineup and the epics.
Climbing felt awkward and hard. It took a long warm up to remember what I was even doing, and the rest of the time to remember that I even like it.
We went to MopBoys, a long-as-get-out jug traverse with pump and dab issues. I love this problem, I worked hard on it in November and didn’t send. It was the perfect thing to go to, as we could both work hard, get spanked, not get scared or have to do any dramatic spotting. Aside from a few people at the office and some off-in-the-distance hiker kids, we didn’t see a soul. I made what I decided to call “progress” and Wallace decided that he’s too weak to manhandle the problem like he used to and learned my heel-dragging girlie beta. It was a good time, and I started to love climbing again.
I wanted to go to Wiccacalapedia Cave, which is nearby Mopboys. I’ve never been there, but Melissa mentioned it a couple months ago and I’m curious. The rest of what I’m gonna say here would only make sense to a Hueco-wonk.
Earlier in the day when I mentioned the Wikipediacalla Cave Wallace was like, “It’s horrible, it’s low ball, it’s nothing, let’s not.” I was like, but that’s what I’m into. I asked him, “Ya know that problem ‘Squirm?'”
He did not know it offhand. I mentioned it because it’s a lowball cave and I love it, so there’s a good chance I’ll like the wikicavapedia thing too.
So after Mopboys had properly spanked us, we wandered over. “This is Squirm” I said, pointing at the cave where, ya know, Squirm is.
Wallace goes, “This is the Wicacala Caveapedia.”
“No no. This is called Squirm. It’s a v4. The Wicacala thing is down over there somewhere.”
“No. This is the wicacala cave, and that is wicacala cave, v5. There’s a picture of (someone I can’t remember girl) in the new guidebook on it. Wicacala Cave.”
“Are you being serious right now?”
“Are YOU? Over 15 years I’ve been climbing out here. I have every guidebook, my mind is a steel trap for Hueco Tanks minutiae. This is the Wicacala Cave. I’ve done it! Why are you doubting me? How can you doubt me?!”
“I must maybe be crazy then. Because I’ve done this problem, and it’s called Squirm, and I’ve never seen the Wicicala Cave. But then again, if I actually did do Wicacala cave last year and didn’t know it, then that’s kinda cool.”
“You did. This is the Wicacala cave. Who are you climbing with who called this Squirm??”
“Andy. ANDY has been here how long?
“I dunno like five or–
“THREE years! I can’t BELIEVE you would take his word over mine on this.”
“I think I saw it in the guidebook too –”
“CALM DOWN RABER!! No need to get hostile. Maybe I’m thinking of an earlier guidebook. Let’s go to Daily Duck Dose and find out. There’ll be guidebooks there.”
So we did. And at DDD we ran into Val, the only solo traveling Australian woman climber on the planet. And I asked her if Squirm was the Wicacala Cave.
“Is Squirm the Wicacala Cave?”
“Uh, no. The Wicacala Cave is off all by itself. Squirm is, like, by Big Nose Millie.”
“So they’re separate problems.”
“What is wrong with you?”
Then Wallace and I consulted the guidebook, and spent the next hour looking for the Wicacala Cave, which is invisible.