Monday, January 30, 2017

Indian Summer

Updates here have been long overdue, partially due to my technological incompetence with managing a custom domain, and partially the modest inconvenience of finding internet and using an actual computer.  What can I say?  Priorities are all over the place these days...

It's been nearly 8 months since I left the confines of a traditional living situation and became a little more transient.  After spending the summer and early fall in Leavenworth, I went to Moab and spent six weeks playing in the desert.

All but just a few days were spent at Indian Creek, the climbing area just outside the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.  Climbers from all over flock here in the late fall, some for just a weekend, others for over a month.  The nature of the climbing is physical and strenuous, so spending a longer time there is conducive to more progress.  The camping is cheap and the nearest town is 30 minutes away, so it's easy to live without much expense.

Bridger Jack Towers

It's really not about the climbing, though.  This valley is striking, remote, desolate and full of history.  The bold reds of the rock always contrast the open blue sky.  You have to bring your water down from town, yet wildlife thrives everywhere you look, perfectly adapted to the seasonal extremes of the desert.  Something about this place draws a certain type of human.  We collect here, in a sandy wash from all over the world; a community brought together by curiosity and love for our natural environment.  All enchanted by the magic of the desert.


When I showed up in The Creek I came alone, with plans to meet up with friends occasionally and find partners along the way.  What I didn't expect was to find a robust community of people overflowing with laughter, encouragement and love.  We spent evenings circled around the fire soaking up the last bits of heat to take back to our sleeping bags.  We spent mornings drinking coffee in the sun; days, strewn across the bottom of cliffs, waging our personal battles against gravity.

Hookers and Blow, 4x4 wall.  Mike Huffman photo.

I watched summer turn to fall and fade to winter.  I felt the days shorten, saw the trees drop their leaves, and the first snow of the season.  Rather than exist in proximity to the natural world, I became a part of it.  Like clockwork, I woke minutes before sunrise every morning.  I sat on the cliff above camp, appreciating the stillness of dawn, sometimes meditating or writing as the rest of our little town came to life.  Days of the week never mattered, I stopped wearing a watch, and just lived according to the natural rhythm.

With each unfamiliar face that becomes a new friend, I wonder if I will ever see them again, once our current paths diverge.  Every connection I make is special, I feel enriched and inspired by that individual and their story.  It was hard to leave, but my soul was ready for winter.  As the weeks have gone by and the daily memories fade, what stands out more than any one route are the moments of laughter, tears and desert revelry with kindred spirits and loved ones whose faces I will certainly never forget.