Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Introducing Nephew to Camping and Climbing at Courtright Reservoir

Our friends Jeanne and Iztok invited a few friends to join them at Courtright for 4th of July, and friends invited friends… when the day arrived, we apparently got an Occupy Movement going — okay, not quite, but we got 15+ who showed up taking up four campsites along with the hardcore dispersed campers.

It was my first time to Courtright, but for Mud and I, our main goal of this trip was to introduce my newly-arrived-from-China nephew, Aldous, to camping and climbing. Actually his name is Ran, which could sound funny in English as in “Ran ran a race.”  But when his mother went down a name dictionary, she ran out of patience too quickly (it runs in the family) and that’s how they landed on Aldous.  I knew he had never camped before, let alone rock climbed, but who would have thought even the clear blue sky and the ants moving around on the ground turned out to be things that he marveled about!  But considering he came from Shanghai, maybe I should not be surprised. The trip was a great success. We were happy to provide him with a unique experience with the help from our fellow welcoming campers, esp. our camp mate, Jim. Once a La Honda neighbor, always a neighbor.  I doubt we can afford a house in Paradise though.

My photos are posted to our album, and following are a few highlights. Click on the thumb nail to see large version (and full size).

This is indeed a beautiful place.

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It was the first time Aldous touched a tent and he was happy to be in one. However, he was, and still is, very nervous about all bugs, but he said that he slept better than at home.
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First climbing excursion is about to start!
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Our good friend Jim led our first route up on Trapper Dome.
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We sent Aldous as the follower after Jim finished the lead, and Mud led right behind him to provide guidance.
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The way down sometimes can feel even more scary than going up, so Mud descended with him while Aldous was being lowered by Jim.
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And don’t forget to enjoy the view, Aldous! But of course, all Aldous could see was how high off ground he was.
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All of you were so right about this being a beautiful place!

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And even I marveled at how blue the sky was!

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Aldous must be nervous by the look of his grip on the rope, but he maintained a big grin. I think he was having fun! BTW, his main, maybe only, concern about climbing on this trip was he had to wear Mud’s smelly climbing shoes and was worried about being contaminated even through his socks. At the time of my typing, Mud is having all his climbing shoes airing outside all sprayed with the shoe deodorant or whatever that’s called.  Haha, nothing like having a teenager tell him (through me) that your shoes stink!
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The second day of climbing, Jim led us to this absolutely gorgeous side of Trapper Dome (west side?). You first go up this expansive slab.
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This wall has some striking colors and patterns. It is very photogenic because one can easily get the climber as well as the lake in the background all in one shot.
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This was a 5.9 that Jim led and Aldous wanted to give it a try. He got up some distance before getting stuck, but he fought hard. I think he is a natural!

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I think Aldous’s mother would get a heart ache when she sees her son eating such simple food sitting on a rock, but I think that’s a wonderful experience for him!  He is surrounded by the nature!

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After climbing before taking off for home, we all decided to pay a visit to a nice beach only 10 minutes of a walk from the campsite.  Only upon getting there did Aldous regret that he admantly refused to change into his swim trunks. He simply did not expect to see a beach so accessible, yet so peaceful and beautiful.

In this photo, Jim is already in the water, Mud is about to get in while Aldous looked on with envy.

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That concluded our trip. On the way home, Jim and we stopped at Eddie’s Restaurant in Los Banos (right on Hwy 152) for dinner. What they said about the great service in Yelp was very true!

Fast forward two days… Mud and I just returned from dropping Aldous off at his summer camp in Watsonville. It is a wonderful campus. All the student counselors, teachers, and staff are extremely friendly. I’m so excited for his opportunity to participate and begged to stay myself. Unlike many, if not most, other spoiled rich kids from China, Aldous is a very pleasant and considerate young man. When Mud started the engine when we were leaving the campus, he said “we only had him for one week and it already felt hard to part.”  Well, I do look forward to spending time with him on the many school breaks to come.

Beta :  As far as I can tell, this thread has  a great collection of information on Courtright.

And I promised the people around the campfire that I would send the link to Mud’s wonderful story on his first wall, Nose on Al Cap among other great stories shared by friends. Here is the link: The Early Days.

Just a note to myself since I’m so forgetful of names. The people who joined this year included: our campsite: Jim and us; next campsite: Steve Curtis, wife Donna, dog Daisy, Johnathan (Mt Biker too), wife Nina; next campsite: Emmanuel and partner, Nate (he bikes too) and friend, Erin and Sarah(?); next campsite: Jeanne, Iztok, Anja, Timm (the Olympian) and Viera (?) who flew straight in from Russia; and dispersed campers: Martin and Janice.