How to: Speak like a Climber

This semester I climbed at the rock wall periodically- yay for Free Climb Fridays at Kent State’s rec center- and I quickly learned there’s a certain culture that exists at the wall. Most people I met drink black coffee, wear khakis and flannels and spend as much time as possible outdoors. I fit right in.

 

However, the more time I spent with my friends at the rock wall, the more I noticed the language barrier that existed between us. There’s a whole slew of words and phrases that make up a climber’s vocabulary- from belays to arêtes to the Yosemite Decimal System– all of which make up this new language I’m learning.

Below are a couple common conversations I heard at the wall, translated into standard English:

What they say: “Can I get a belay?”

What they really mean: “Can someone hold my rope so I can climb up the wall and not fall to my death?”

What they say: “Oh that route’s tough. It supposed to be a 5.8 but it’s more like a 5.10.”

What they really mean: “The direction you’re supposed to climb up the wall is hard. On the Yosemite Decimal System (a system that rates the difficulty of technical climbs from 5.0-5.15) this route is labeled as a medium level route but it’s actually closer to medium-hard.”

What they say: “Let’s climb over by the dihedral instead. There’s a route there that has a couple nice jugs.”

What they really mean: “Let’s climb on a part of the wall where two planes of the wall come together to form a corner. There’s a way to get up the wall that has a couple super easy places to put your hands.”

What they say: “Try to get your legs up! You can smear your right foot and then stem your way up.”

What they really mean: “To climb higher on the wall, you’ll need to move your feet up the wall. You can put your entire foot directly on the wall for friction and then spread your legs into a wide V-shape to work your way up.”

What they say: “Take!” “Got you.” “Ready to lower.” “Lowering.”

What they really mean: “I’m at the top, can you get rid of any slack in the rope?” “I took the slack out, I’m holding on tight.” “I’m ready to come down.” “Bringing you down.”

Now that I’m not a student and lost a lot of the freebies that come with being in undergrad, I hope to spend some time at Rock Mill and Cleveland Rock Gym. Stay tuned for more posts to come this summer about climbing and other adventures! Until then, enjoy this super adorable photo of my friend Kait and I at the rock wall.

The National Park Service Goes Rogue

I don’t want to get too political here, but this is something worth talking about: our national parks are going rogue and Cuyahoga Valley National Park employees are part of the resistance.

Quote about park rangers leading the resistance

Why They Went Rogue

Okay let me back up- rogue Twitter accounts didn’t pop up just because they want to. Here’s a little background about what happened that led to alternate accounts.

On inauguration day, the Trump administration released alternative facts regarding the inauguration attendance, causing yet another controversial discussion about the legitimacy of his leadership. Twitter users responded, sharing comparison photos of Trump’s inauguration crowd next to Obama’s 2009 crowd, debunking the administration’s false claims. The National Park Service account jumped in and retweeted the photo, fueling the fire.

National Park Service Retweets inauguration post

The new administration followed up with an email to thousands of employees in the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service, stating that all Twitter accounts are to be shut down “until further notice.” The administration now says the shutdown was to ensure the security of the accounts. Below is a quote from the email, originally reported by The Washington Post:

“All bureaus and the department have been directed by incoming administration to shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice,” said an email circulated to thousands of Interior employees.

By the next day, the National Park Service account was back up and running and issued an apology for its retweet, but new accounts like the Alt National Park Service and Badlands NPS Fans were also on the scene, sharing sassy posts and starting heated conversations.

The Parks Fight Back

Trump has made plenty of offhand comments about climate change and other issues relating to the parks, but his order to shutdown the National Park Service Twitter account seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Employees from Cuyahoga Valley and eight other national parks created the Alt National Park Service, a growing coalition of park employees speaking out against the Trump administration. They even have a website for people to join their movement to preserve the environment for future generations. Below is a photo of a beach in Acadia National Park, originally posted on their Facebook page:

Resist written on a beach in Acadia National Park

Individual parks also went rogue and nine national parks now have alternative accounts, but my personal favorite is Badlands NPS Fans. Although the Badlands account isn’t run by park employees, it still contributes to the conversation with its tongue and cheek posts about climate change and politics. Below are a couple of my favorite tweets, published on their feed:

Badlands tweet

Badlands tweet

Buzzfeed called this “the one protest no one saw coming,” a perfect description of the situation at hand. I mean, who would’ve thought that park rangers would lead a resistance against the President?

New Year, New You: Yoga Edition

So I’m not much of the new year resolutions type, but this year, I had an itch to rekindle an old habit: yoga. I was introduced to yoga when I registered for an “easy elective” yoga course my sophomore year of college. My class met just once a week for a little more than an hour, but that minimal time commitment brought lasting benefits like learning to focus on what really matters in life and destressing from my busy college schedule. Not to mention, I could finally touch my toes for the first time in years!

I decided to return to the practice this year and enrolled in a free, 31 Days of Yoga bootcamp from Yoga with Adriene. Let’s be real though- I’m just 7 days in and it’s totally kicking my butt. Yet, this core burning, sweat inducing yoga routine is so worth it. Here’s why.

Haley does a yoga pose
Why I Yoga
It improves my posture, strength, balance, flexibility and more

As I said before, yoga gave me amazing flexibility (I’m already inching closer to a no-bent-knees forward fold!). In addition to increased flexibility, yoga also creates strong core muscles, promotes better posture and improves your balance. I always go back to yoga because it makes me feel (and look) great.

I feel connected to God

Yoga is about connecting the mind, body and spirit, which makes it deeper and more spiritual than your average workout. Yoga encourages self-reflection and being present, and I love to use those principles to guide my thoughts during the practice. By engaging my mind, body and spirit, I feel close to the Holy Spirit and grow in my understanding of God, his character and his plan for my life.

I feel refreshed

I really feel fantastic after a yoga practice, no matter how intense or calm it was. Because of yoga’s peaks and valleys structure, I always end feeling refreshed and relaxed, more limber and loose both physically and mentally than when I started.

It’s free, easy and versatile

Yoga has to be one of the most low maintenance exercises out there. Ultimately, all you really need for a successful yoga practice is yourself. Of course, a mat and yoga instructor are important components but not so much necessary, especially if you’re an experienced yogi. But for those of us who aren’t totally comfortable going solo, there are some great online resources out there like Yoga with Adriene. On her YouTube channel you’ll find practices for every need, all for free! Because yoga is so minimalistic, it’s perfect to do at home, on vacation, at a park… really anywhere your heart desires.

Haley's cat near her yoga mat

And the final reason why I yoga? Cats. My cats love the texture of the mat and usually stop by to walk across it and rub against my legs. Ebony, the one pictured above, is a regular visitor.

#OptOutside on Black Friday

Black Friday brings out the camper in all of us. But rather than camping outside your favorite retail store, why not camp in your favorite park?

For the second year in a row, Seattle-based outdoor co-op REI will close its doors for Black Friday and give its employees paid time off to #OptOutside. More than 540 other retailers chose to partner with REI and encourage America to stand outside rather than stand in line.

 

How To: #OptOutside in Ohio

You can join me and the 4 million people who pledged to #OptOutside this Friday. Be sure to share your experiences on social media and check out REI’s filters like the one I made below. Here are just 4 outdoor activities you can do in Northeast Ohio:

1.Go for a Morning Run

If you ate a little too much stuffing and mashed potatoes, consider a morning run to melt off Thanksgiving’s extra calories. Medina’s Buckeye Woods Park is my family’s favorite and great for some post-holiday dinner exercise. You can choose from five different trails, making the park perfect for any occasion. Run the yellow or green trail in the Schleman Nature Preserve for a quiet, woodsy experience or take the paved Chippewa Inlet Trail for a more open and urban feel.

This Black Friday I'll be outside2. Break out the Bike

Not into running? Me neither. I’d much rather be on a bike. The Towpath Trail offers 85 miles of bike-able terrain and follows the historic Ohio & Erie Canalway. You can pick up one of 50 trailheads anywhere between Cleveland and Dover. My family and I biked from Indigo Lake to Boston Store back in October.

3. Ice Skate Downtown

Feeling festive? Cleveland and Akron’s outdoor skating rinks are now open! Bring your family to Cleveland’s Public Square or Lock 3 in Akron for an afternoon of skating and other Christmas activities.

4. Visit Northeast Ohio’s Waterfalls

Ohio is home to many beautiful waterfalls, and a whopping 16 falls are here in Northeast Ohio! Make it a day trip and visit them all or choose just one to admire for the afternoon. Check out this interactive Google map of the waterfalls in our area:

So what do you say? Will you go out with me?

7 Ways to Leave No Trace

I’ve gone on a couple trips at this point, so I wanted to take a moment and talk about something called Leave No Trace. This is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program and teaches others how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. The organization offers endless information about caring for the environment, so I created this easy infographic to explain the 7 ways you can both enjoy the outdoors and respect the natural world. Comment below to tell me what principles you decided to try!

An Infographic that displays Leave No Trace 7 Principles

Celebrate 100 Years in CVNP

2016 marks the 100th birthday of the National Parks Service and outdoor enthusiasts are celebrating the centennial by enjoying America’s 84 million acres of preserved land. Thankfully, us Ohioans don’t need to spend a fortune on a trip out west to enjoy this milestone birthday, we can celebrate the centennial right here in Ohio’s own national park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park created a list of 100 things to do in CVNP to encourage Ohioans to explore the great outdoors. I took on their challenge, and you should too! Keep me updated on how you celebrate the centennial by commenting with whatever adventures you embark on. You can also share your stories on social media with #NPS100 and #CelebrateCVNP. I chose to do #54, Enjoy the View at the Ledges, and share my experience on my favorite CVNP trail.

 

Celebrate CVNP: My Hike at Virginia Kendall

Ritchie Ledges at the Virginia Kendall Reservation is my favorite area of CVNP. The ledges are absolutely breathtaking and offer a peaceful escape from the busyness of life. I visited with my roommate, Ally, a fellow outdoors woman who is as much of a spontaneous trailblazer as myself.

Haley walks across a bridge near the Ice Box Cave at Virginia Kendall

The 2.2 mile trail started by leading us through the cool pine woods. After a short hike, we arrived at a stone staircase and realize we were standing on top of the ledges. The ledges were tall and made of sandstone that crumbled to the touch. Vegetation like moss, ferns and even trees grew on the sides of the stones.

The trail was difficult to follow; it appeared to meander everywhere as thousands of people have created their own pathways as they walk alongside the rocks, through tight tunnels and around boulders. We chose to do the same and follow our own trail as we explored the ledges in whatever way we saw fit for the day. This is why I love the ledges trail; it’s a different experience every time I visit.

As we continued our hike, climbing up and over fallen rocks and squeezing through tight spaces, the ledges grew taller and taller, now two to three stories in height. It’s amazing to think these great structures were carved out so long ago by glaciers during the ice age!

Soon we arrived at the ice box cave, appropriately named for the cold air that rushes out of it. The cave is home to a group of bats and also has a clean, icy stream flowing from it. As we walked on, the ledges grew so tall that we eventually had to backtrack and find a way to get to the trail on top of ledges. The trail continued to lead us along the edge of the ledges, eventually ending at a scenic overlook that stretched for miles.

Do you want to visit the ledges too? Check out my trip guide for the ledges and learn about some of Virginia Kendall’s best kept secrets.