If your eyes decide to delve into the below, it only feels fair to tell you at this moment to prepare for a feverous attempt of raw consciousness. In other words, super emotional gush that will squish between all ten of your toes. Tread lightly.
At the end of June, I embarked on a Creekend for my year anniversary of climbing. What’s a Creekend you say? It is a nice, long weekend camping at Indian Creek in the Canyonlands of Utah.
A year ago, two random dudes (Chris and Joe) in the middle of the Uncompahgre National Forest offered my friend and me a beer. Middle of nowhere? Adventuring? Free beer? I’m in. We spent the entire evening sharing stories around a camp fire. Even better, Chris made an amazing vegetarian meal. Who is this dude and how can he generate a restaurant-style meal in the middle of the woods? Whoever he was, he had this whole 5 star, luxury camping deal down. By the end of the weekend, Chris invited me to go climbing in Utah the second weekend in July. I had never been outdoor climbing; this meant more adventuring. Sure, I had dabbled on fake, indoor rock before with an after school program I worked for, but definitely nothing serious. I was intrigued and definitely wanted more woodland food that you can only conjure up in fantasies.
Chris gave me the directions to the desert. They read something like this: drive south past Moab for about an hour, at 211 take a right, drive for “x” amount of minutes, drop down into the canyon floor, drive for “x” amount of minutes, take a random turn off the side of the road, drive for “x” amount of minutes, stay right at the fork, then you should be good. He also informed me he wouldn’t have service if I got lost, so I had to be sure I could navigate the desert in the dark. I looked at the map and noted the landmarks he gave were cattle guards and assessed there were 3 ways this could turn out:
1) I would get terribly lost in the middle of the desert and have no idea where I was and have no reception. Or something else would happen Murphy’s Law style, like getting a flat tire.
2) I would be murdered in the middle of nowhere.
3) Or… I would have some sort of amazing time within the unexpected.
There was just no way to tell. Either way, I was in.
I made it to camp and there was no one there. There were people who had obviously been there as all of their stuff was set up, but no one was there. So, I waited. I gazed at the vast amount of stars. My mind was racing with all of the ways this situation could turn out. If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s over analyses. Then, three people showed up, Chris, Devin, and Spring, all spewing amazing energy from every pore on their bodies. These people were high on life. I listened to their stories recounting an amazing day crushing sandstone. I had no idea what to expect the next day, but I could not wait.
That weekend altered my life.
The Creek holds a special place within my soul. Those three people. The smooth splitter sandstone. Hanging by a daisy to take photographs. The desert in July. On the drive back, I felt for the first time what it was like to be high on life. For a good portion of the drive home, I cried. No, I wept. I wept for what seemed like hours, making a blubbering mess of my face. I realized I had never lived in a moment, let alone days on end, where no negativity existed. No, not even in thought. I had been detoxified.
When I drove out to the Creek again (for my third trip to the desert) at the end of June, it was much the same: an electrifying deep sea diving expedition into the very depths of my soul.
I found a reticent, subtle, and delicate (yet fierce) piece of myself that was sitting, waiting patiently and quietly to be discovered in the middle of a crux, a 100 degree hike, an amazing meal, a terrifyingly exposed traverse, and little moments of time we so readily gave to each other. It was as if the Creek preserved a piece of me in its air conditioned cracks that I had no knowledge of. Well, I certainly discovered it and even felt it. It took a few days to digest the pieces of myself that I found perched just below Bandito anchors or on the top of the Sunflower. I unearthed strength. Strength. Physically and emotionally and mentally, I observed a soft and delicate strength that has a ferocious passion I never recognized before. Even more, I didn’t even know it existed.
So I suppose, I have climbed to a new mantra that has slipped itself into all crevices of my life. Look at experience with a new breath and different eyes. Don’t squint. Literally, I mean physically, don’t squint. Keep your eyes open and your face relaxed… shoulders back. Know you are empowered. And so my story really begins as I truly learn to love myself.
“If the foot of the trees were not tied to earth, they would be pursuing me. For I have blossomed so much, I am the envy of the gardens. ” -Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī
© /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/