Sarah Jane Alexander - Reader Blog 9 - Climbing Magazine

Sarah Jane Alexander - Reader Blog 9

Sarah Jane attempts a route on Castle Rock. Photo courtesy of Sarah Jane Alexander /

Sarah Jane attempts a route on Castle Rock. Photo courtesy of Sarah Jane Alexander /

The Devil kept me awake.

Until that night, nothing had ever prevented me from falling asleep.

But I call him The Devil for a reason.

No mere mortal could have created the horrible razor-blade rasping, louder and more dangerous sounding than a chainsaw grinding granite. These superhumanly loud honks gestated in mucus lungs and were birthed in nostrils of rusty steel.

The worst part was, Alvaro and I had been divinely relaxed. We were on a coastal vacation and decided to treat our fatigued muscles to a soak in a mineral spring hot tub after three straight days of climbing. We returned from our soak revived, relaxed and primed for a refreshingly hard sleep.

When I stepped out of my car, the vaccuumous snorts emanating from the tent behind ours ripped my eardrums. I thought, “This guy has got to be faking, that noise is so ridiculous.”

But the sound continued. At irregular intervals. That was what made him The Devil.

Sleepy, I nestled in my virginal tent. For a few blissful moments: beautiful silence. Several times I almost fell asleep. Then “whoooaaaaaaoooonnnnnkkkkkk!” erupted from the gates of Hell.

The terrifying noise scared me awake. I thought some bloodthirsty demon was attacking. Adrenaline snapped me conscious – over and over. The ensuing pauses allowed me to drift away until: “whoooaaaaaaoooonnnnnkkkkkk!”

Filled with drowsy rage, I wiggled out of my warm sleeping bag, rushed out of my tent and stood next to his, pondering yelling, “Roll over! You’re snoring!”

Sarah Jane puts on her shoes before a muscle-fatiguing climb in Castle Rock State Park, California. Photo courtesy of Sarah Jane Alexander /


But I had a hunch that the tent from Hell might also contain a brawny She-Devil with no qualms about knocking me out. From the sound of his honks, he was a meaty monster, and I had no doubt his woman would be the same – and enraged I would dare to call out her man.

After a couple hours of trying to fall asleep, I abandoned my new tent, gathered my sleeping bag and crawled into my little car. I put the front seat as far down as it could go. However, even my short legs were cramped. But the boxed quietude allowed sleep to come.

For what remained of the night, I wiggled my curled legs this way and that, trying to get comfortable.

Impossible. But at least I could sleep.

Finally, the sun came up. I rolled down the window to see whether The Devil yet trumpeted his demonic nose horn.


Ahhh, perhaps I could catch an hour or two of sleep fully sprawled out in my tent.

Then ...


Hell’s bells! Literally.

I passed back into a couple fitful hours of cramped car sleep.

The Devil and his mate enjoy breakfast on a morning Sarah Jane was unrested because of the unholy honks emanating from their tent. Photo by Sarah Jane Alexander /


When I awoke for good, the first thing I did was glance at The Devil’s camp. I had to see what this inconsiderate brute looked like.

An average chunky American. And his mate did look as if she could knock me down with a single lick, so I was glad I hadn’t approached their tent demanding silence.

I watched them go about their morning, enjoying breakfast, apparently well rested.

I felt cranky. The Devil was obliviously cheerful while I was tired because of his behemoth bellowing.

But even that couldn’t keep me cranky. I was going climbing.

That night perched around a campfire in a different – quiet – park, I told Alvaro: “I don’t know what I would have rather had, a good night’s sleep, or the story of The Devil.”

“I think the story is better,” he said.

“Me too,” I said.

Besides, I was back to working those unrested muscles on the rock within hours. The hot tub’s relaxation would have faded quickly, while this story will always provoke a wry smile.

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