I can’t believe it, but in just a few days now we’ll be heading back to the Bay Area for a bit to see our families and make a little money. This stint in the Las Vegas area has gone by fast and slow at the same time.
We’ve been spending most of our time in Red Rocks. Usually by late April the climbing season in the desert is over, but it just hasn’t been hot enough here to make us pack up and leave. There is a cooling breeze that keeps the air fresh. And on the few days that it does get too warm, we head up to Clark Mountain, which is higher in elevation than Las Vegas.
I tried to go up to Clark without any preconceived ideas or attitudes about the place, but that proved to be difficult. Everyone had something to say about the place, even people that hadn’t been there before. They warned me about the hike, how it’s so long and so steep and that I’ll probably be too tired to climb after hiking all the way to the third tier anyway. They warned me about the climbing, how the routes are so long and so steep and that I’ll probably hate it and wish I was back on the more vertical, deep colored sandstone of Red Rocks.
I also knew that Ethan had a project up there, a route that just so happens to be the hardest climb in North America these days.
More than anything, I just had to keep promising myself that I would hold my injury in the front of my mind and not let the beautiful limestone caves of Clark seduce me into climbing anything too hard. Because from my little experience with the mountain, that is really what that place is all about–hard climbing. Finding your apparent limits and then trying something far, far beyond what your mind assumes is possible.
But I am just not healthy enough to go along with Clark’s theme right now.
Needing to channel my energy in some way, I decided to dedicate myself to one thing–cheerleading. Being annoyingly positive. Belay him until dark. Support the shit out of him. Make it as fun and light as possible for him to do the painful, ego-busting task of having to try very hard. The nice thing is that all of this came naturally to me, it felt good to do, easy to do, because I’m in love with him.
The hike wasn’t half as hard as what people made it out to be. The climbing…well, I can’t really comment on that since I only did the 5.10+ warm-up. But the place is very, very special in the sense that it challenges you, stretches you in a million different ways and makes you really wonder what you’re capable of. It’s a different kind of “hard” than other places–it’s not like the balance and grace-intensive slabs of Tuolumne, it’s not like the fear-inducing highballs of Bishop or the exposed big walls in Yosemite, it’s just physical and mental strength, endurance, and power. And a hell of a lot of gumption.
I loved that mountain, immediately. I didn’t want to tell anyone that, because I didn’t feel like I had the authority to say such a thing since I hadn’t hardly climbed there. But there was something about it that I found so attractive.
We drove back from the star-dense skies of Clark and back into Las Vegas a few days ago. Immediately I fell into a funk. I blamed it on this city–with all of its shiny buildings, shiny cars, shiny people. That must be it, I thought. Surely it’s all of these external issues. It can’t be something like, you know, within myself or anything like that.
I wondered why Clark Mountain had such an impact on me, and I think it’s because it brought me back to a time when I was challenging myself, really finding and testing my limits in all aspects of my life. Watching Ethan try Jumbo Love made me nostalgic for those long, seated meditations when I just wanted to scream or laugh or get up and watch Modern Family instead, but I didn’t, I sat there with my thoughts and my body, just listening to the swirl of it all, knowing full well that I may have to sit here for hours just to get one fleeting second of clarity. But I would still do it, almost every day. I would still unroll my yoga mat and do the primary series or a ten-minute long pigeon pose no matter how busy I was or how many margaritas I had the night before. I would still be conscious of my breath whether I was doing pranayama or the laundry. No matter how badly I wanted to go to happy hour with my friends, I would still go to a cafe with a philosophy book and a pencil for an hour. I would meet meet my friends later.
I have in fact been challenging myself with climbing these days, but not so much in the self-study kind of way. Of course, climbing is a means of self-study, but it’s different than yoga. I need something quieter and more introverted to compliment the social, quirky world of climbing rocks. I just miss it.
I especially miss it when climbing hard isn’t available to me.
I am healing, and I’m sure I’ll be back to flailing around on the hard stuff soon, but in the meantime, and from now on…I need some yoga in my life. Some real, relentless, down to the nitty-gritty, yoga.
I stand on top of Black Velvet canyon. 1700 feet ago we were on the canyon’s floor. It took me a few hundred feet to get to know the sandstone, how to move over it. The color of the rock is what I love the most, its deep reds feel so satisfying under my hands. I want to bite right into it. The desert in the springtime always makes me hungry. I want to cut open the fibrous cacti and yucca, serve it with sides of primrose and desert marigold. Slabs of medium rare sandstone as the main course. I want agave and sage for desert, to wear blooming prickly pear in my hair, to open up like the lilies. It’s windy up here, it keeps everything fresh, everything moving, blows the springtime right into me, right through me, I dissolve into the desert.
Then we went to Chipotle 🙂
Love to you all…keep challenging yourself, and stay hungry.