A wise man from the documentary “180 Degrees South” once said:
“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” -Yvon Chouinard
By that definition, Lincoln Woods was a small adventure.
“Or we could go tonight,” was Tommy’s response to my reiterating our plan to spend the night in beds at home and set out early in the morning to explore the boulders of Lincoln Woods. I was not packed and spent the next forty minutes throwing gear, peanut butter, and graham crackers into various bags. I then spent the following thirty minutes trying to locate my wallet, forgotten on top of the beer fridge.
It was after 9 p.m. when we typed “1 Twin River Road” into TomTom, the GPS, and began the two-hour trek from Durham, New Hampshire, to Rhode Island. Everyone, meaning Matt and Luke, had ditched our trip, Luke for parties and the convenience of nearby Pawtuckaway and Matt for icing strained shoulder muscles. So Tommy and I decided to two-man it.
The plan was to scope out the park and find a place to set up the four-man tent I was borrowing from the Outing Club gear closet. After two hours, several missed turns, and the several more U-turns, we arrived at the park overly excited and completely naïve to the potential dangers lurking behind the picnic tables.
I have since heard that one does not enter the park at night. EVER. Especially not if one (me) of your pair is a 107-pound female. Lincoln Wood’s location outside of Providence means that the same unspoken rule for Central Park applies: don’t enter after dark.* So, naturally we began exploring immediately, wearing headlamps alerting anyone wishing to harm us of our exact location.
We spent over an hour trying to locate different groups of boulders, which we referred to as letters of the alphabet corresponding to the lettered pictures in the guidebook. After discovering many paths not on the guidebook map, walking in circles always leading back to the same spray-painted rock, and climbing up several down-climbs in sneakers, we headed back to the car.
While driving around the park looking for the perfect place to toss some crash pads for the night, a friendly park ranger informed us that, if we were not “actively fishing,” we needed to leave the park, as it was after midnight and clearly closed. Not having thought to bring our fishing gear, we left.
There are no campgrounds in the vicinity of Lincoln Woods, though the GPS did try to bring us to Camp Road, which had a few trees, dilapidated houses, and did not look like a safe place to park for the night. This left us with the option of driving around aimlessly in hopes of finding a safe parking lot to crash in for the night. I chose all of the darkest, sketchiest looking spots behind old warehouses, and Tommy continuously talked me out of sleeping somewhere we would likely be mugged.
In the end, we settled on the brightly lit parking lot of “Twin River,” the largest casino I’ve seen in my life. It looks like five Sidney Opera houses all connected in the rear.
“There is no way I’m fitting in there,” Tommy said, surveying our sleeping situation. We’d folded down the back seat of the Saab and crammed in the Organic as a mattress. All of our clothing, additional crash pads, and Tommy’s longboard were shoved in the front. Miraculously, we both fit and spent the next few hours trying to sleep while security vehicles circled the lot and drunken twenty-somethings several spaces over swore about losing their friend.
I awoke from a short nap and rolled over expecting to see Tommy asleep or at least with his back turned toward me. Instead, I found him staring intently at the Organic, nose nearly to crash pad.
“I. Have. Not. Slept.” He stated, overemphasizing each word in frustration as he surveyed the quickly lightning horizon.
I disagree with the claim that “America runs on Dunkin’,” as I do not see most of their customers running regularly. However, as sleepy climbers looking to send, we certainly climbed on Dunkin’. A gigantic iced coffee and a bagel each later, we were half functioning, Tommy on an hour of sleep and me on closer to two.
We stayed in the park for eleven hours, adventuring to every alphabetically labeled area, B to P, in the guidebook. We climbed till our pads were pink and then red and then switched to climbing trees and V0s.
Late in the day, we found a small corner of fall in the park. The beech trees were prematurely yellow for August, the breeze between the boulders was cool, and it even had the characteristic autumn smell of rotting leaves. I’m always psyched to climb, but I’ve never been so excited for the New England season of flannels, hot apple cider, and scaling rocks.
*Despite our fortunate escape from great adventure/catastrophe while in the park at night, please do not repeat our mistake, and reserve night bouldering sessions for safer locations such as Pawtuckaway State Park.
Originally published September 21, 2014, on coffeetapeibuprofenclimb.blogspot.com.