When life is broken down to the basics, it is simple. In the desert it is simplicity of life in it’s finest form: routines that melt the days into one another, scattered with hard climbs, good company, and dappled sunlight. Every night I fill the pot which holds water for my coffee before I crawl into my sleeping bag. Every morning I start the partially frozen pot on the burner before walking off for a morning constitutional. I then read in the early morning light until the sun and the cloud cover have worked together to make an all around pleasant temperature. Earlier in the week we made a run to get firewood, and filled the interior of the van to the brim. Today is the last rest day before I head back into ‘the world.’ The sun is making it through the high (cirrocumulus?) clouds that are accompanying this warm front, and at one point a thermometer on the table read seventy-two degree’s. Three games of chess, a guitar strum here and there, some spontaneous yoga postures, and two beers later the day is nearly complete. We lose sunlight on camp in about an hour, it being Three O’clock now. The migration of the sun in a more southern declination will continue for only seven more days before reaching it’s lowest point in the sky, the winter solstice. So much change is on the horizon for myself: primarily my destination twelve hours to the south in order to start fixing the boat. One thing that I can always count on is that the scenery change that accompanies the change in location will be refreshing. It also could not have come at a better time, since yesterday at the crag I stubbed my pinky toe removing the capping skin in a way that just barely missed the toenail. Tomorrow will be a test of my ability to heal as a lizard, supplemented by iodine tincture, triple antibiotic ointment, and climbing tape. I’ll have to hold off on scraping the bottom of the boat when I arrive, lest I get a staff infection. I am imagining shirtless maintenance and bike rides to the hardware store for parts. The full moon passed last night without any kind of extravagant celebration, aside from the restlessness that is inspired by a continual twilight that accompanies the moon throughout the night, exacerbated by the disseminating cloud cover. Also, I’ve got a novel that I am in peril of leaving unfinished, but can perhaps squeak into the schedule; Tom Robbins that sly sociopath. It seems to me at points that the novel may have been written “half asleep in frog pajamas.”
Today the contrast to the morning I arrived is unmistakeable; red rocks holding out in the desert sun longer than the snow. The desert has many natural forms, none of which are any less mystical or inspiring than the others. At the crag we see frequent ravens, and hear their caws among the cliffs. The rock wrens will visit from time to time during a belay to check out what everyone is up to, and a flock of Stellar’s Jay’s were leap frogging between juniper trees in a group of nearly a hundred (definitely over fifty). It also is fraught, in these cool temperatures, with crusher climbers pulling themselves around by their fingertips, another doubtfully natural phenomena that accompanies the aesthetic cracks(at least beautiful to a certain breed). Some of the aforementioned being recipients of climbing specific grants and gifts akin to the Mugs Stump award. Birch is among them: Alix, Mike, Dave, Arron and Kyra, John, Kelly, Brian and Bailin, Vitelli, Sean, Mayan Smith-Gobat, and Brette Harrington. Doubtlessly one of the most grand aspects of climbing is that you are able to climb at the cliff right along side the climbers you see in magazines doing record speed ascents and finding new routes in Alaska or Pakistan.
Thoughts go out to Ana who rolled her car twice when leaving to make a phone call, luckily without injury. Such an event is life altering for somebody who lives out of their car to climb continually. I trust in the universe to clear a new path for her to trod this spring, perhaps taking that Tacoma she always wanted to Bishop.