Returning to Red Rock with the Sunrise Baby
Words: Blair Haddad
Photos: Benny Haddad
The last time I got to touch the smooth sandstone of Red Rock, I was 3-4 months pregnant. I was heartbroken to not be climbing in such a beautiful place. When we originally found out we were pregnant, I planned to continue my very active lifestyle – hiking, climbing, yoga. Unfortunately, after a scary hematoma in the very beginning of our pregnancy, I had to cut all physical activity until we healed. Red Rock was our first trip after we’d been cleared for more movement, but I still made the decision to forgo climbing and serious hikes.
So instead, I stood at the base of the beautiful striped walls and watched as my fellow climbers yelled, grunted and cheered their way up. I allowed myself a little rock scramble with Benny close at all times. We made our way up to a flat rock platform that I could reach without too much trouble and I stood out on the edge feeling alive again. The beauty of Red Rock takes your breath away and makes your eyes wide with awe. Standing there, I knew we’d bring our little one to this place. I knew that the next time I stood at the base of these walls, I’d be preparing to climb up them.
So a couple weekends ago we packed up the Xterra and our little Sunrise Baby and made our way east from L.A.
The campsite was full, so in a semi dirtbag style, I called my cousin Alex, who lives nearby, to bum a place to crash. Family is awesome. We also got to try out Yukon Pizza where Alex uses a 120-year-old family sourdough. If you get the chance, check it out.
The best part though was watching Sunrise Baby bond with Alex over a huge pile of Legos.
The first day at the crag we ended up at The Fringe. Frankly speaking, I was not ready for that approach. Not physically, but as a mom. I’ve been with Benny as he’s carried Sunrise Baby through all kinds of conditions and terrains, but I was not ready for the ledges on this approach. Luckily, our climber crew came through with excellent spotting and we all made it up to the base of an insane rock formation.
Benny geared up to lead and I took the little one for an exploration. “Wow!!”, she said looking out over the vast red canyon. She was climbing and scrambling. It made my heart so happy.
I find strange joy in the small achievements like that. Every time we get to show her a new place, I feel like I am doing my job as a parent. Every time we push past our limits as a family to be able to experience a raw beauty only nature provides, I feel rich and successful in a way I can’t equate to anything else.
This is what we live for.
Even though I didn’t have a great day climbing, it really didn’t matter because I was there with my family and our closest friends. And, as is almost always the case, we got to meet all kinds of climbers from all over the country – even another climber kid!
Our next day was excellent. The sun was out as we made our way up The Slab. While these aren’t the hardest climbs, it was nice to get my confidence back and let the Sunrise Baby climb a little, too. I love spotting her as she finds those tiny little finger holds – ones I am sure the rest of us can’t even see much less use. Kids have such a natural talent for climbing and watching that on the wall is inspiring.
And with that perfect day of climbing, we left the canyon and headed back to the city of angels. Of course we hit Sunday traffic but Sunrise was a road trip warrior. She made it the whole six hours home with minimal fuss. As she gets older, these trips get easier and easier. Adventuring with a two year old can mean there are physical limitations, but by adventuring with our two year old, we’ve given her a life of no limitations. She knows she has the freedom of exploration and discovery. My hope is that by passing on these freedoms to our daughter from birth, she can someday empower and embolden her fellow adventurers.
Until then, all I can do is keep showing her the world as I discover it myself.