Every ending is also a beginning. I learned this first in yoga, then saw it manifested everywhere I looked in life. Our crime is when we’re faced with a beginning, but we refuse to trust and move forward with the lessons of the ending.
This month is the anniversary of our exodus from “normal” life. Year number four on the road presented a couple non-climbing related challenges: everything we owned that we couldn’t carry with us was stolen from our property in Kentucky, and Alexander SuperScamp was killed in an accident. Our material world was turned upside-down, not once, but twice. We found that having things taken from us and our home destroyed did not conjure the same liberating emotion as selling our house and a majority of our belongings four years ago.
At this time in 2018 we were almost a month deep into our Pipe Dream projects in Maple Canyon. That season went well for both of us before it ended with an abrupt change from summer to winter (fall? what’s that?) in early October. We stuck it out, waiting for the Indian summer that never came. By the time we checked into our little lot in Kentucky we were both powered down from the past two years of sport climbing, my elbows were killing me, and the shed on our property had been emptied of everything except our books. Add conditions that rivaled those we’d just escaped, and the result was low motivation to suffer through scarce, random days at the crag. Everything…Mother Nature, our bodies, and our heads…told us it was time to regroup; training and rehab became our winter goals.
For two months, the Lee County Rec Center became our second home. The Rec Center had previously been our indoor yoga refuge, but the opening of its climbing area in October increased its value tremendously. We hadn’t touched plastic in a few years, and it felt foreign to us. To start, we set easy problems on the bouldering wall and tried to hang on to holds on the Moon Board without worrying about doing actual problems. It took a couple weeks of this before we were able to trust our fingers enough to begin using the app and join in on sessions. It was ass-kicking. It was exactly what we were looking for, except that my elbows were not happy about it. I stopped climbing to focus on opposition and mobility exercises while Charlie continued to happily moon board away. We each did what we needed to do.
Come mid-December we felt ready to eschew the plastic holds and fluorescent lighting for the Great Outdoors again. Still on our quest for power, we decided it would be a good opportunity to visit our friends at Send Climbing and finally check out the boulders and logistics at Hueco Tanks in Texas. If you’ve never been there, believe the hype. And make reservations ahead of time for North Mountain, or be prepared to spend dollars on tours in the back country. We had a few easy entrance days before it got crazy busy for the holidays, and then it became a nightmare to get onto North. It was impossible to maintain a consistent climbing schedule, which is important for us, so we cataloged what we’d learned and added Hueco to our list for the future.
It was after leaving Hueco that the accident that killed our Scamp happened in Deming, New Mexico. In the same year that most of our belongings were taken, our home was destroyed. Two big wrenches had been thrown at us, but we’d each said goodbye to a parent within the first two years of our travels, and the contrast between missing a person and missing things was not lost on us. And besides, “if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball,” right?
We lived in a real house again for almost two months, thanks to the grace of good friends. The days spent bouldering on the St. George sandstone ended with a short drive north to Hurricane and a real kitchen, a queen-sized bed, and a fenced yard for the dogs. It was a reminder of the luxuries we’ve de-conditioned. Running water, flushing toilets, a bathtub…and internet was almost too accessible.
In early February we got the call from the Scamp factory in Backus, MN letting us know that our brand-spanking-new 2019 trailer was ready. We made the most harrowing trek of our lives to go pick it up, towing it back to southern Utah through relentless drifting and blizzards on black ice.
We resumed climbing on the St. George boulders as much as the record snow and rainfalls would allow while we got to know our new house. We were tempted by the thought that sport climbing in the Hurricave would provide more consistency, but we were keenly aware that we still needed to be in power training mode or we would fail miserably there.
Ready for a return to normalcy, we hitched up the new trailer and got back on the road to another favorite bouldering destination, Priest Draw, AZ, where the pocketed limestone requires little to no drying time after a spring storm. There, we were able to recalibrate and re-establish our cherished consistent schedule. We were finally back on track.
The lessons of the year weren’t new ones, but valuable reminders of what we already know. We were reminded that stressors evolve, that we don’t need more that we can carry, and that friends are literally priceless. We were reminded that it’s ok not to know exactly what’s next.
Now we’re settled in for the summer season in Maple Canyon. I’m the official Campground Host and Charlie’s my lovely assistant. It makes evenings and rest days a little (ok, a lot) busier than usual, with bathroom cleaning, posting reservations, answering questions and educating folks about the fees, and socializing. It’s a busy place that sees all of the user groups: climbers, hikers, atv’s, horses, and just plain old campers. My current greatest fear is running out of toilet paper.
We’re making the hike to the Pipe Dream again (surprise!), navigating cross-cave traffic and strategically timed burns on our projects. Charlie’s back to trying a route that, in the past, he’s associated with injury and stress. I’m working an extension of last year’s project. Starting all over again on a route you’ve already established a relationship with is interesting. The body tends to remember more than the mind, but the mind so often wants to be in charge. As always, the life lessons are applying here as well. Stressors evolve. We don’t need more than we can carry. Friends are priceless. It’s ok not to know what’s next.
So. Here we go ‘round again, for the next three-sixty-five. The Journey. The Process. The Here and Now. All the cheese whiz on Ritz crackers you can eat.
Featured image at top of page courtesy of @beyondtheliteral (Cesar Valencia and Naomi Robles).
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