My first stop on the way from Leavenworth to Boone was in Missoula, to spend the night with Molly and Brandon. It was so good to see them, and I was bummed to be a few days late for their local climbing festival. Molly told me all about her new horse, Caper, and how stable and awesome he is. She had this very beautiful but very high maintenance horse when she was living in Austin. He had some kind of chronic pain condition that contributed to him being an almost constant jerk, and dangerous to ride. She finally sold him to a relatively inexperienced rider with a horse veterinarian in the family. The new owner seems to have the money and resources to take care of him, and doesn’t ask much of him in the ring. So it’s a reasonable, if unlikely match. Molly’s new horse is gorgeous and smart, and she’s been showing him around the region with great results. She said, “he’s the same horse every time I ride him.” Whereas the last one, she never knew who she was gonna get, and nothing she did helped him for any appreciable amount of time. But she can ride Caper anywhere. “I ride him next to the highway, trucks are going by, he’s fine. A train next to us, he’s fine. Now we’re gonna go faster. Now we’re gonna race the train! He’s perfect for me.” And it’s hard to imagine she spent so long feeling so bad over this sick horse who couldn’t keep up with her riding style and fancy horse ambitions. But it’s clear that the experience was traumatic and rattled her deeply, even though now things are quite perfect, and the old horse is doing well enough with his rich noob owner.
“Kind of sounds like men,” I said.
Then Molly asked me if I’d be down to do the 2 or 3 required USA Climbing local bouldering comps and go to Nationals in the winter with her. We could meet up! I said, “no way.”
The rest of my drive was full of amazing stormy skies from Wyoming to El Paso. I spent the night in Estes at Mama Bear Strong’s home for wayward climbers, and a fabulous morning on Pearl Street in Boulder having breakfast with Emilia, then coffee and shopping and a long talk with the Pigeon women. I pulled up to Shindaggar after midnight. It had been raining there too and the land was bursting green. I passed another great morning chatting with Andy, then had to drag myself away or risk staying for months.
And by the time I got to Austin I had decided Molly was right, it would be fun, and did an ABS comp in Houston before I headed east. I got to warm up with the Stone Moves team, and got some awesome coaching from Morgan and John from Team ARG. It was super fun, and I didn’t get beaten by any of the youth girls, so that was amazing. I’ve got another one in a couple weeks in Athens, and assuming she was serious, Molly and I will be meeting up at Nationals in February.
My predictions for Nationals:
I get second to last place in round 1
Molly goes to finals
Brandon and I get lost on a coffee run