This afternoon I decided to set out on a bike ride. A couple of days ago I had biked to a networking event for startups that was 13 miles away, most of which was by the bay. Since the Bay had been nice, and probably is the closest outdoorsy type place I decided to head out in that direction. I quickly got on the familiar path, but eventually came to a fork at which I previously had gone right. Variety is the spice of life, so I headed left. The route was scenic, except some polluted looking water which was a little depressing. I eventually passed a little runway that people fly their small planes in and out off. The runway ended just feet before the path. For a little I continued biking, but then I noticed that a plane was getting ready to take off, so I raced back to try to enjoy having the plane fly just over my head like I had seen in the movies. It was terribly anticlimactic. The plane took off about mid runway, so by the time it got to me, thought it was wobbling like small planes do, it was much too high to be exhilarating.
I kept on going. Eventually I got to a nature building that had a small walkway to an outlook at the edge of the water. It was nice to go and check out, but I quickly returned after snapping a photo for my Instagram feed. After another long while I came to a hill. Wanting to check out the view, I headed up. I found a bench and enjoyed the scenery for a couple of minutes. When leaving I took the other side down, but I passed an area that had a grid of large wooden poles sticking out of the ground. As I was passing them I considered making some sarcastic Instagram post about the them being the Stonehenge of our lifetime. Worth a picture I thought. But then I thought about taking a picture from on top of one of them. They were all varying heights, so of course I headed to the tallest one.
I’ve always been a climber. My dad first noted me climbing when I would continue to mount his head while he attempted to carry me in one of those baby backpacks. When I was 5 my mom took me to a park where I decided to climb a 50 foot pine tree. Other mothers ran up to let her know “Mam! Your son has climbed that tree!!” “yeah, he’ll come down eventually.” Pine trees are fairly easy to climb, but the passion stuck. There is something about climbing I’ve always enjoyed. Maybe it has to do with the feeling of personal success that drove me to find wrestling so rewarding. It could also be that I enjoy to problem solve and while climbing you are continually problem solving to reach the next point. Either way, I’ve enjoyed climbing everything from trees, to the rafters at the side of the stage during tech class, to conventional rock faces while backpacking in the desert in Nevada.
It was on. Her is a picture I took of the pole so that you might better understand my description of the following events.
The bike was actually placed there first thing, because I knew I would use it to get up the first couple feet. Once standing on my bike I considered how I might mount the rest. From experience I know that I am able to pull my body up onto poles like this once I have two hands on the top, but how to get them there. It was too tall to jump to that position, despite my fairly good (for my height) vertical. One way would have been to simply wrap my arms around it, grip it tight with my legs, and shimmy. This would have been a good plan, except I was in shorts and a tank top, and the pole, despite how it might look in the photo, was one of those poles that seem as though even touching it will give you splinters. Next I considered wrapping my hands to the other side and pushing against it with my feet to hold myself up in between jumps I would take. Again, the whole splinter thing was really something I would have rather avoided.
I got off my bike and looked for something that might help me. I spotted my bike lock, which is the type that is a couple of feet of woven steel wrapped with plastic. Perfect. I wrapped it around and used it much like coconut farmers harvesters use rope, though I believe they have the rope go around their backs. I held the lock in one hand, and the loop of the double backed plastic covered steel rope in the other. I positioned it a little above my head, and then jumped and got my feet close enough under it to be able to use the leverage to hold myself up. Jumping and re-positioning, I was able to slowly start inching up the pole. Unfortunately, it was hot out, and my hands are typically clammy anyways, so with some sweat on them I realized my grip would not last. I pushed off and jumped down. This was a simple fix, I changed the way I was holding the bike lock so that the actual lock portion was on the other side giving me two looped ends to hold. Once again I started jumping and inching up the pole. The top was within reaching distance. With one last effort I jumped and reached both of my hands up to rest on the top. Unfortunately, as is common with old splinter prone wood like this, the top was not smooth but very, very splintery. My hands slipped and cut. I kicked off the pole as I fell as to not hit my bike and landed on the ground.
I could feel that warm feeling that you get when you cut yourself. The cuts were not bad at all, and the splinters were just frustrating, but, I knew that this meant I would not be making it to the top today. I was forced to leave and bike home with my right hand only partially on the handlebar as to not get my blood on it. Sometimes my endeavors do not succeed. Perhaps one day I will return with gloves, but it was nice to have tried.