Friday, July 6, 2012

The Vagabond Life

 I longed for the vagabond life just once. Just to say I had experienced it.

So many early climbers' tomes abound with stories of a life spent
living out of a vehicle, living for climbing,
scrounging for something to sell or recycle
to buy one more piece of gear, one more bite of food to fuel the body.

I am not quite that adventurous.

Not quite that untied-down.

But I did long to taste what it was like to live unhurried,
to focus on nothing but climbing.
To experience days rather than just hours of muscle-working activity.
To discover if my body was capable of enduring more than I usually throw at it.

I longed to see new places.

Not just to climb new walls
but to cross bridges I've never crossed,
to pass through tunnels just to see what's on the other side
(and climb above them, of course).

To see views I've never seen.

(Smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire can be barely seen on the far left of this photo).

To hike new trails.

To watch the sun set over a different peak each evening.

Many times I have driven past
crags, rocks, cliffs, canyon walls, towering spires, lofty domes
and longed to take to them with rope.
To know what it was like to stop - wherever, whenever - and climb. 
To see what was climbable and what wasn't.
To stop somewhere - anywhere - new and head upward toward the sky.

Sometimes hikes in to the climbing areas were easy.
Well beaten paths that trailed in and out of aspen groves and fields of wildflowers.

Sometimes paths weren't well-traveled paths at all
but paths-of-least-resistance
(if you can call straight up "least resistance").
Through steep sections of forested land
covered with dead-fall and
made visible only by cairns that directed us
further up.
Further up.

Sometimes the barely-there, cairn-directed trail
turns into a boulder field...

and the only way of getting to the tall, rocky outcropping in the distance....

is to haul yourself up.
       By one
                  By one.

 Because you have to get to this:

In order to get to this:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I mentioned once that everything begins with desire.
These last five days were driven by a desire
to fulfill a longing, to know what "it" would be like.
To do it and leave no room for wondering.
To push "what if?" off the cliff
And leave it lying in an indistinguishable heap at the bottom.

For five days I lived the vagabond life
centered in the one activity that is, for me, living-in-the-now
at it's best. 

For five days I stood in awe of the beauty around me.

I climbed.

I rappelled.
 (I'm up at the top).

I led. 

I hiked into places so far away that climbers (yes, indicated by arrows) were
Such indistinguishable little bumps on the rocky surfaces
That they may as well have been part of the rock face themselves.

I got very dirty 
And only slightly injured.

I observed that my decision to lead or top-rope often isn't a decision at all;
I seem to know viscerally which one is right at which time.

Life, for those five days, was like sinking into an old couch.
I relaxed into it
Without even having to try. 

And did I mention there was water almost everywhere we went? 
This Minnesota girl can't ever get enough water.
*Big sigh of contentment.* 

Five days of living out of and sleeping in my van.
No schedule. No responsibilities. No concerns.

It was lovely, although fleeting.
I cannot live the vagabond life permanently. 
Nor do I desire to do so,
for I love all other aspects of my life.
I have ties elsewhere. 

Ironic, isn't it, that so many climbers have longed to be free
Yet live at the end of a rope.

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