Endless Summer Edition
Take in the View:
2 girls, 1500 feet up, 10 miles down
Photos + Words by Kendra Gauntlett
Kendra Gauntlett climbing Flyboys in Mazama, Washington
When you pitch a slightly outlandish idea to a best friend, they follow the #1 rule of improv, “YES ... and”.
My birthday falls around the 4th of July, so the long weekend usually looks something like rallying a bunch of friends to head to a body of water, bask in the sunshine, play some games and capping the night off with libation infused, solo performances on a karaoke machine.
Good. Easy. Living.
But this year I wanted something different.
Beaming about my newfound love of rock climbing, a friend shared a route that came highly recommended. Tucked away in Mazama, Washington was a climb called Flyboys.
It sounded like the perfect way to kick off the final year of my 20s: middle of Washington, stunning views, no cell service, and gorgeous day of climbing.
It was no easy physical feat for me: scaling 1,500+ vertical feet with a 10 mile downhill bike ride and a 3 mile walk back to the car after that.
But I knew just who was up for it.
Kendra's climbing partner Vicky Nguyen in Squamish, BC Canada
"I heard about a climb tucked away in Mazama, Washington called Flyboys. It sounded like the perfect way to kick off the final year of my 20s."
When you pitch a slightly outlandish idea to a good friend, they might say: Ok. I’m in. But when you pitch it a best friend, they follow the #1 rule of improv, and add, “YES.. and”.
This is what led Vicky and I to take off on a week-long road trip from San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA to do the climb in Mazama, WA and continue our journey up to British Columbia, Canada for the well-received “yes… and” portion of the trip.
"We said no to parties and boys and the promise of carefree, predictable times and hopped in a hatchback en route to the mountains, for the hope of mental solitude and physical exhaustion."
Road trip miles: 600
Granola bars eaten: 12
vertical feet climbed: 1500+
badass BFF climbers: 2
The things that go wrong on these trips make the things that go right even sweeter. We woke up in a rainstorm almost daily and managed to take the long way to climb more often than not, which inevitably led to some tricky situations on the wall.
Whether we were tip-toeing on slippery wet rock or peeking over our shoulders to take in the view, we spent the days making a serious effort to enjoy where we were and solve things together - in true climbing partnership.
Our climbing partnership made me think, "how can I be the kind of partner that I would want?"
Supportive but willing to push. Safe but not overly cautious. Willing to compromise while always working for a bigger common goal.
And most importantly, the right attitude and really willing to laugh through the small, annoying stuff.
The sentiments felt bigger than rock climbing.
Kendra Gauntlett, pictured above.
Vicky Nguyen, pictured above.
We talked about what it might look like to take these trips in 5+ years, when we would have different priorities and responsibilities: Husbands? Children? Companies? Who knows?
In between climbing, the conversation was rich. We discussed what we thought true community was, how racial dynamics impacted our upbringing, and of course, our own futures. Futures that we hoped, regardless of any serious life changes, would always include loosely-planned road trips to the wilderness in the middle of summer.
We talked about what it might look like to take trips in 5+ years, when we would likely have very different priorities and responsibilities: Husbands? Children? Companies? Who knows?
We agreed that life would look a bit different but had high hopes that the free-spirited adventures would continue to stay a priority. We mostly just tried to stay present and focus on the right then and there. Knowing, we were so very fortunate. And happy to our core.
As the trip came to a close, I wanted to leave with more than just memories. So, I sat at a highway pull off of hwy 99 and reflected on the importance of the slow days, where you laugh in the rain, trust your partner, be the partner you can trust, and always appreciate the views.