Explore the wonderful state of Maryland

Nature's Gift

“Fly fishing is to fishing as ballet is to walking.”

– HOWELL RAINES

sOME OF MY FAVORITE PLACES IN maRYLAND

Chesapeake Bay

Fuerat aestu carentem habentia spectent tonitrua mutastis locavit liberioris inistra possedit.

Potomac River

Fuerat aestu carentem habentia spectent tonitrua mutastis locavit liberioris inistra possedit.

Explore Fishing in Maryland

Fishing can help develop a personal character and inner peace more than than a lifetime of ethics discussions in a classroom.

Fly Fishing for the soul...

David Keith Wills has always prescribed to the notion that no matter where you are in the world, fly fishing is good for the soul!

Exploring and being one in nature is a wonderful gift that we often just do not make the time for that we should.

One of the wonderful gifts of fly fishing, especially if you live in a busy city like Baltimore is that it forces to you slow down and be present in the moment.  We can all use a breather from time to time.

Nature’s playground–Outdoor rock climbing in Texas

As any outdoorsman will tell you, there is no limit to the recreational opportunity nature can provide. And any Texas resident can tell you that this great state is an especially strong example of the diversity of nature. Visitors and residents should count themselves fortunate to be able to experience it.


In particular, Texas is a great site for pursuing outdoor rock climbing. In this activity, climbers challenge themselves to scale natural landforms like rocks, canyons, and cave walls. It provides a great workout because it conditions so many muscle groups. Contrary to what some might think, it is possible to enjoy this activity without much athletic experience.


Before addressing outdoor rock climbing it is important to discuss how rock climbers first learn to climb. A dedicated gym is invaluable when first starting out. It provides access to a controlled setting with skilled climbers who can help you. Furthermore, you can receive instruction to ensure you are conducting safe practices and proper techniques to avoid injury.


There are actually several types of climbing. Bouldering is a particular kind that is beginner friendly and will grow with you as your skill and experience increase. It features a pattern of holds (rubber protrusions) that are placed to provide a path a climber must negotiate. Depending on the placement and type of hold, each bouldering problem represents a different difficulty level.

This set up mimics the kind of climbing a person might do on a large boulder or similar landform. Higher climbs will use a lot of the same technique but also have additional considerations including a safety measure known as a belay.


You’ve probably noticed that some climbing gyms are covered in thick mats. These are designed to aid in jumping down or breaking your fall during a climbing. Believe it or not, there is a safe way to fall from a height. Ask your gym staff to help you with this because it is crucial to safely climb.

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Some words of advice for beginning climbers


It’s important to stress that rock climbing can present many dangers. Rest assured that climbing can be done safely, but it is important to have the right equipment, strong technique, and good sense.

Only climb to the height you’re comfortable falling from. Pay attention to your body. If there is one thing a climber can do to avoid injury, it’s to never ignore whatever your body is signalling.

From the steadiness of a hold to your level of fatigue, a good rock climber or boulderer is constantly checking in with their physical state, looking to make adjustments or even just take a quick break. Over time you will learn your limits but also strengthen and expand your capabilities. It’s incredibly rewarding to view this progress as your skill level grows with the amount of practice.


As I have remarked many times, Texas offers a uniquely rich diversity of settings for hiking, camping, climbing, and all manner of outdoor activities. I want to highlight a few areas to outdoor rock climb. But before I do, here are some important considerations.


Make sure you have practice in an indoor setting. Test and check that your equipment is suitable for outdoor climbing. Go with other experienced climbers if at all possible. Many rock climbing interest groups will plan trips together. This is both a great opportunity to make new friends and improve your rock climbing skills in a safe and encouraging setting.


Rock climbing in Texas parks


Enchanted Rock — a good starting point


There are multiple locations throughout this park that feature climbing areas. Make sure to check the skill level needed for each to verify if it’s right for you. Don’t forget to take advantage of the knowledge of guides; they’re there to make sure you have the best experience possible.

Enchanted Rock is especially suitable for beginners. However, it also features a climbing area inside a fissure. These are for the more experienced climber, so if you go to Enchanted Rock as a beginner, try to revisit to attempt others climbing sites as your skill increases.

Tonkawa Falls — a lesser known gem


Like other sites, there are multiple options at varying difficulties. This area is particularly suited for bouldering and features limestone rocks. Bring a bouldering mat, and enjoy this lesser visited site.

Eisenhower State Park — a bouldering playground


This site is perfect for taking your bouldering from the indoors to the beauty of the outdoors. One important consideration is that holds made from brittle stone like limestone can be less stable than the rubbers ones found in gyms. Be mindful of this fact and take extra care when placing your holds.

Equipment and terminology

Like any worthwhile activity, climbing and bouldering have a tremendous depth of terminology. Here are some introductory ones. You’ll learn plenty more along the way.

Climbing shoes – Friction is critical to getting a strong hold on a surface, so climbing shoes feature rubber soles. They are also tight-fitting to ensure you have good flexibility when placing your foot on a surface. Like anything you wear, try to test out candidates at a sporting goods store. It’s the best way to gauge fit. Some stores even have small climbing areas to further test the shoes out.


Bouldering pad – A pad to cushion a climber’s landing. Bouldering gyms will have these installed, but for outdoor bouldering, you will need to bring your own.


Belaying – What keeps a climber safe at heights above those of bouldering is an anchor with a rope and harness known as a belay. It is operated by a person on the ground who will pay out rope as the climber ascends.

There is a very specific process for communicating with the person operating the belay from the ground. This ensures that a belayer is attentive and properly using the device.

Important note: Make sure you have been trained and have practiced this technique before attempting it in an outdoor setting.


Chalk – This is both iconic and self-explanatory. Long time climbers will swear by their particular type of chalk and chalk bag. Don’t sweat it if you haven’t got the highest quality chalk, it will still help your sweaty palms. You will also need a chalk bag for quick access on your climb.


Grades – A grading system is use to describe how difficult a climb is. Grades weren’t included in the example rock climbing sites, but familiarize yourself with it and make sure to research the grade of any prospective site.

Footwork – This is the term for a climber’s skill in using their feet. Your instincts will improve, but do consider the advice of
instructors and experienced climbers in how to place your feet. Good technique will go a long way because in rock climbing strength isn’t everything.

Rock climbing can seem intimidating but it can be a rewarding past time that offers plenty of benefits. Challenge yourself to improve each climb, increase your strength and flexibility, and maybe take it outdoors to enjoy the wonderful natural sites of Texas.

 

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