Posts Tagged ‘Rock Climbing’

The Great Smoky Mountains; Easter 2011

This time of year is chock-full of Top Ten lists, and I didn’t want to be left out of the countdown fun.  Here are my Top Ten Adventures of 2011. Click on the links to read the archived articles about each of my top adventure picks.  I highly recommend any of these activities for your adventure planning in 2012!

1. Cycle Illinois. I hadn’t been on a bike in years when I bought one from a friend in February 2011. Now, I can’t get enough of this wonderful sport.  Bicycles truly embody freedom and speed, and the cycling community of Quincy is supportive, inclusive, and really fun.  Read about my two favorite rides of 2011 here and here!

2. Rock climbing.  Whether it was scaling the indoor Kroc Center Wall or rappelling down a cliff at an undisclosed location, hanging from walls is one of the most exhilarating things I tried in 2011.

3. Kayking on the Mississippi.  How had I lived so close to the Mississippi for so long without trying this activity?! Kayaking  is an easy hobby to learn and a tough one to master, but the feeling when you’re silently gliding through the backwaters of the Mississippi is incomparable. It’s nothing less than a completely new view of something you’ve seen a million times.

4. Roadrunning.  In January 2011, if you would have said that by the end of the year I’d be running regularly and signed up for a half marathon, I’d have told you that you were crazy.  But here we are in December and I’m running 5 days a week! This change in attitude is entirely due to the wonderful folks of the Heartland Roadrunners Club.
5. Katy Trail. This Missouri Rails-to-Trails project runs from St. Charles to Columbia and beyond.  The now defunct railway has been converted into flat-grade multi-use trails for biking, hiking, or running.  The beauty of the trail and the hospitality of the towns that surround it cannot be overstated!
6. Ski Jumping.  If kayaking is the most silent way to experience the river, then water ski jumping is its opposite.  The roar of the Quincy Ski Club’s Hydrodyne Boat and its twin 175 horsepower Evinrude motors shakes the bay, and the adrenaline of the approach to the ski jump shakes my knees.
7. The Great Smoky Mountains.  My husband and I took a trip to the Smokies over Easter.  We climbed small mountains, played Frisbee on Andrew’s Bald, hiked some of the Appalachian Trail and saw a bear.  Greatest Easter trip ever!

8. Ultimate Frisbee.  Quincy’s Ultimate Frisbee Pick-Up League provided great fun all summer long. Highlights included the Quincy Hat Tournament, Southern Illinois Tournament and the Jacksonville “Jax Hat” Tournament.  If you’re looking for a great way to stay fit and have fun in 2012, be sure to “like” the Quincy Ultimate Frisbee Facebook page!

9. Cuivre River State Park.  This Missouri State Park gets the nod as the #1 close by destination for hiking adventures.  The wildlife, well-kept trails, lake and beach area, neat campgrounds and close proximity to Quincy are all great reasons to visit this Troy, Missouri park.  It’s a mere hour and a half from Quincy, but somehow seems like a vacation.
10. Meramec River Float Trip.  Meramec State Park is located just west of St. Louis, and its hiking trails, biking trails, limestone bluffs and forested hills are second to none in our area.  Get a river’s-eye view of the whole park by renting a canoe or raft for a float trip down the Meramec.

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Trying out the kRock Wall!

I’m a Salvation Army bell ringer, but not the kind who stands at the mall with a red kettle. The bell in question is small and white with a red Salvation Army logo emblazoned on its side, and to ring it, you need to climb to the top of the Kroc Center’s new rock climbing wall.

Wednesday night was my second time in the new Kroc facility.  My husband and I are still deciding on which gym to join for the cold winter months when I have to put my bike away (awww), so in order to “try before we buy” we got some guest passes and headed down for a workout.  Guest passes are $7.50 per day, and are very worthwhile if you like to get a feel for a facility before you purchase a membership.

We started our workout on the new Matrix treadmills. I was pretty excited to try these out. They feature video runs where you can select a setting — I picked Utah Canyon country — and then as you run, the video displays a “trail” you can run through.  I liked that it gave little facts about the scenery you were passing as you ran, and that the incline adjusted automatically to match the trail.

After the treadmills, Justin and I headed over to some of the weight equipment.  I tried the assisted pull-ups machine, then the pull-down bar, then the tricep-working arm deal.  I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I’m no weight lifter. The gym staff was friendly though, and they were happy to explain machines, even if I wasn’t all that happy to try them.

Justin knows his way around a gym, so he took off to do more upper-body workout machines while I decided to try out the video bikes. The video bikes are simply awesome.  I mean, it’s not the same as riding outdoors, but it turns working out into a game, and I really enjoyed that.  Basically, you pick a course on the screen and you pedal to complete it. The neat part is that you have to control the bike just like you would a real bicycle. It has shifters and handlebars that move, and you steer around the course, dodge other riders and trek up and down hills with appropriate resistance.   I’ll admit — I may have run a few other riders off the road and down cliffs just to see what would happen — but I promise I’d never do that on my real bike.

When I was properly exhausted, I went to find my husband and my jacket. I was headed for the exit when the imposing rock wall caught my eye. There were three guys standing at the wall, and when one of them saw me looking up, he waved me over.

Justin does some pull-ups on the new equipment.

The guys explained that every other Wednesday is, “Ladies’ Night Up,” where women get to try the kRock Wall for free! I may have been exhausted, but I wasn’t going to let a free climbing opportunity pass me by.  A rock wall volunteer named Zlatko set me up with a harness. He explained the double figure 8 knot and a fisherman’s knot as he made them, and then pointed out the route I’d be taking up the wall. The beginner’s route was set up to be a ladder-like climb where you always have four good points of contact on the wall.

I started and quickly figured out a few things about climbing. The first thing I learned was the closer my body was to the wall, the easier it was on my arms. The next important thing I learned was that climbing isn’t all upper body strength anyway. You can use your legs and stand up on each new step, and that takes a lot of the strain out of your arms.

I got a little stuck about halfway up the wall, so I decided to take the plunge and let go. The auto-belay system lowered me gently to the ground and was actually really fun.  I looked back at the spot that had me stuck, and after some consideration, I decided I wanted to give the wall one more try. This time, the volunteers suggested that instead of the auto-belay system, they’d set me up on a rope-belay that they controlled. The advantage was that if I needed to rest a second or shake my arms out, they could take my weight and keep me on the wall.

Volunteer rock instructor Zlatko Masic nears the top of the wall at the Quincy Kroc Center.

I set out on my second attempt, bound for the little white bell. The first section was easy, and I got past the place I’d been stuck before. I was three-fourths of the way up and the bell was in sight. I asked Zlatko to hold me for a second, I shook out my arms, and then made the final push to the top.  Then, I reached out and rang the bell!  It felt amazing!

I hope you all get the chance to go and experience the new Kroc Center.  Without fail, every member of the staff was helpful and friendly, and whether you’re learning the weight equipment or the rock wall, they’ll be glad to teach you what you need to know.  I also hope you give climbing a chance. Two trips up that wall and I’m totally addicted.  I’m even planning a trip to Upper Limits Rock Gym in St. Louis for a lesson or two. The next “Ladies’ Up Night” at the Kroc Center will be Wednesday, Nov. 2. I know that I’ll be there and I hope you are too!

For more info on the Kroc Center, visit http://www.krocquincy.org/

Original Post October 21, 2011

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