Ain't No Mountain High Enough To Keep Us Away

"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." -Sir Edmund Hillary

Hello summer of 2015! We are excited to be out of school and to jump start our WANDERING!

This week , we kicked off our Wandering Wednesdays and Weekends "on the rocks." As John Muir said: "The mountains are calling and I must go."

We travelled to one of our most favorite places in the state: Lexington, Virginia. The fabulous Director of the Lexington Visitors Center highly recommended Lester Zook of Wild GUYde Adventures to serve as our guide for a day of rock climbing and rappelling. (Advance reservations are required for his rock climbing and caving adventures.) Wild Guyde Adventures is based out of Harrisonburg and oversees adventures all up and down the Blue Ridge corridor making them a great and convenient choice whether you are coming from Richmond or DC. Wild GUYde supplied us with all of the needed gear: helmets, climbing shoes, ropes, etc.

For our adventure, we would be climbing on Little North Mountain in Goshen.

The day kicked off in the parking lot at Swinging Bridge.

As background, Goshen Pass is Virginia's oldest state-managed natural area. Located in Rockbridge County, about 10 miles north of Lexington, the Commonwealth first acquired the property in 1954 to help protect the spectacular views of the 3.7-mile long gorge along the Maury River. Public access to Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve is only available via a parking area off Route 39 and Swinging Bridge across the Maury River. (Note: The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries requires a WMA Access Permit for visitors age 17 years and older who do not possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing or trapping license, or boat registration. Contact the DGIF Field Office in Verona (540) 248-9360 or go to http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/access-permit/ for information on acquiring a WMA Access Permit. Our guide obtained the necessary permits for us to climb and be on the property.)

Our seasoned Wild GUYde, Lester, lead us on a mile hike to the climbing location. Along the route, he mesmerized us all with his knowledge of the trees and flora. When we reached out climbing destination, Lester did the set up for three different climbing routes, and gave us a safety briefing as well as a tutorial about the belay process. While our family has climbed frequently at an indoor climbing facility, being outdoors on the rocks was a very different experience. Finding your own hand and toe holds was a fun challenge and Lester gave us great suggestions and much encouragement from the ground as to how we could best conquer the rocks. I have to say I was quite impressed how fearless my kids were as they climbed, as when it was my turn, I was a bit more tentative. But as I learned from Lester, TRUST THE SHOES and go for it. After numerous climbs, plus a break for lunch, we tackled the next challenge of the day: rappelling off a 90-foot rock face. We decided that I would go first, then the kids and my husband last, so there was a parent on both ends. While the views were spectacular and Lester our Guide was so reassuring, the first step off the cliff was definitively the hardest. I had quite an internal monologue going in my head telling myself that I needed to show my kids that I am brave and strong. After a few cleansing breaths and more encouragement our guide, I stepped off, began the descent and handily made it to the bottom, as did the rest of the family. Sir Edmund Hillary had it right when he said: "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." We finished the day by jumping into some of the river swimming holes in Goshen Pass. The main purpose of our Wandering Wednesday and Weekend adventures is to get out of our comfort zones, seize the day and experience new things. Our day on the rocks most certainly accomplished that! A big THANK YOU to both the Lexington Visitor's Center for their recommendation of Wild GUYde Adventures and to Lester Zook, our incredible guide. It was a day we will not soon forget!

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