Yesterday I joined my friend Jason for a quick after-work rock climb in Boulder Canyon. We met at 6:30, hurrying to a crag near the road to try to beat the fast-approaching 7:45 sunset. Dancing around poison ivy on our way up the short and steep approach to the base of the climb, we quickly got ready and up I went. It was my first time on lead in almost a year and a half. As I inched up the nearly vertical wall, I noticed the bodily memory slowly returning – shifting my weight slightly to clip a draw, crimping my fingers to gain a better hold and feeling the quality of the rock to evaluate its friction. What was not returning so quickly was my physical stamina and mental fortitude, often finding myself out of breath and a little scared at potential 15-20 foot falls. That will return as I continue to climb and get strong.
After we both climbed the route, we took a minute to appreciate the last moments of the day, as nightfall descended on the canyon. We had a beautiful view in every direction, the sound of Boulder Creek heard below us. The air was crisp, clean, nurturing. Jason made a comment to the likes of “I love being here”, and I couldn’t agree more.
It was May of 2011 the last time I truly lived in Boulder – I’ve had remarkable experiences in this time – but this is one of the things I missed most. Spending time with a good friend, having access to such incredible nature. Resting in and enjoying that somewhat indescribable moment of joy after completing a challenging climb and taking a moment to enjoy the splendor of the surroundings. Climbing for me is much more than a sport – it’s an element of my spiritual practice. Pushing myself to the edge, getting to intimately know my body and its abilities, finding the elusive ‘no-mind’ as I move up a wall knowing a moment of inattention could result in my death or a nasty injury.
I’m finding incredible peace in my first two weeks back in Boulder. An ease might be the best way to describe it, an ease I had misplaced for a bit.