After drinking enough coffee to get us through the Northernmost parts of California, a stop at the Black Bear Diner somewhere in southern Oregon, noodles in Portland, a few fun days in the Seattle area, getting hassled and grilled at the Canadian border as if not being married or a homeowner or fully employed or a mom at age 25 was some kind of crime punishable by law, 20+ hours in Ethan’s Honda Element, not nearly enough yoga, and years of waiting and anticipation, I finally made it to the dark, glittering, moss-covered forest of Squamish, British Columbia.
The moment we crossed the Oregon border, I missed the Sierras. I felt like I still had one hand clasped on the knobby granite fins of Matthes Crest, the other was extended out of the passenger’s side window, cutting through the Oregon air as we rolled along the 5. The further North we drove, the more stretched I felt.
This happens to me frequently. I fall in love with places far too easily, and California and I have been going steady for many years now. Leaving is always hard for me, even in the name of a British Columbia summer.
The forest here, where most of the granite boulders call home, has been described to me in the past as “magical” and it truly is. The trees create a thick canopy that only the determined band of sunlight succeeds in piercing through, so it’s dark, and my God is it quiet. Caterpillars with emerald and rust-colored stripes inch along the soft forest floor, on our crash pads, the hood of my jacket. Fragile, friendly-looking spiders escape to small holes in the fallen tree trunks that are covered with bright green moss and hearty fungi. There is so much growth, layer upon tangled layer of life, and the growing happens fast, in the instant it seems. The air is thick, still, everything is damp. With light that’s so broken and fractured, the patches of sun that do reach the earth are particularly glittering and illuminating. It all has a pulse. Everything breathes with you, and the combination of that and climbing on boulders with good friends makes me feel the deepest sense of comfort and safety. The forest coos and coddles you, wraps you in its canopy, the whole experience feels less like rock climbing and more like a perpetual group hug.
This is very different from the vastness of Tuolumne’s exposed peaks, I’m willing to even go as far as to say that the forest of Squamish is the opposite of the high Sierra. At first their differences felt jarring, I struggled to adjust to it all–especially to the short, quick movement of bouldering when I was used to long, 14 hour days in the mountains. But after a few days of being here I feel like I’m flowing, my shoulders hang easier, the somewhat cryptic movement of the bouldering is starting to reveal itself, if I put music in my earbuds my head will bob and sway. I’ve got all parts of me right here, no more limbs being stretched across the entirety of the Pacific Northwest.
I’m just adjusting, seeping into it, I’m sleeping really well and I find myself dreaming more of dark forests and less of secluded alpine peaks.
Well, a little less. Okay, maybe not any less at all. Maybe more?
And the even better news is that my hand feels better, I’m actually using it to pull a bit, thanks to Mike and his body work. Very grateful for his attendance on this trip, not just for his healing hands but also for his refreshing amount of psych. In fact, everyone we’ve been rolling with is psyched and hilarious. It helps to have a good crew, especially when it’s been raining for two days.
I hope you all are enjoying your summer, wherever you are. I’ll write more soon, be well!