For a long time, Lincoln Woods was my go-to climbing spot. In fact, it’s probably safe to assume that, over the past few seasons, I climbed as much at Lincoln Woods as I did everywhere else combined. Similar to any place you spend a lot of time, I gained an intimate knowledge of Lincoln Woods. I knew the best times to go, which areas to visit, where to find the best conditions, and, most importantly, how to avoid the riff-raff that seems to overrun The Woods. Through countless visits to The Woods, I developed various circuits of boulder problems that I repeated over the course of numerous visits—wiring difficult moves into my brain and remembering key beta.

Showing up at The Woods, I would mindlessly work my way through these circuits, letting my mind wander and muscle memory carry me through the well-rehearsed moves ingrained into my subconscious. While Lincoln Woods still possessed innumerable challenging problems, some of the adventure and unknown had been lost. Most of my visits to The Woods resulted in me repeating the same problems on the same circuits, and failing at the same place on the same unfinished project. With the exception of an all-too-infrequent breakthrough, most of my trips to Lincoln Woods were predictable.

It had been over a year since my last visit to Lincoln Woods and, courtesy of my absence, I got to enjoy a few happy moments of rediscovery this past weekend. Climbing familiar boulders and problems, the memories of the rock and the routes flooded back into my mind—but I was left to uncover the intricacies of the movement and find unremembered sequences. Uncovering forgotten hidden holds, remembering the proper body position to be in before a particular move, and enjoying climbs that had been the staples of my climbing for years was pure pleasure.

It felt good to be back, enjoying the problems that formed the foundation of my climbing experience. As the day wore on, I began to struggle on easier climbs, it hurt to hold even the largest jugs, and a soreness had crept into my back and forearms. Stopping for a moment, I realized that I had climbed numerous old circuits, visited a ton of boulders, repeated past favorites, and failed on old projects. Though the will to climb was still present, physically I was done. As much as I would have loved to make up for my year away from The Woods in a day, it wasn’t going to happen. Hopefully, I don’t let another year pass without a visit.