Today I had the blessing of going off on my own for a hike. Trying to find something moderately difficult but rewarding, I chose to go to a hike close to Moab that includes two arches, Bow Tie and Corona. Unfortunately, it should be nicknamed the Toddler Trail or Disneyland @ Moab. I think at least half of the people there were under 18 and made as much noise as most kids. No offence to those of us with families, it was just a poor choice for me trying to get away by myself. So onwards I went, to be rewarded with some nice views of people dangling from ropes. That's right, people were rappelling off of the arches. There will always be arguments regarding how natural resources get used, and there is precedent for other, now banned, uses for arches (see this clip at around 1:10 to see a plane flying through Corona arch: http://youtu.be/IkeJQJxHpQw). And even rapelling has a more dubious side. Check out this clip showing some serious swangin' from Corona – http://youtu.be/7xm_PIQ6_hQ
All of this is a longish way of saying that some people want to play, some people want to preserve, and some people want a balance. What that balance will become in the Moab area is still up in the air. You can probably figure out what side I lean towards….
But I came to Utah to do something difficult, something that caused me to completely focus on the task at hand to make it home safely. And despite the crowds on the main route, I managed to climb to the top of the arch and beyond, entering a world of only me, rock and sky. What it took for me to climb up and then back down stays in the "don't ask, don't tell" disclosure policy with wives, mothers, etc., as I think they sleep better not knowing. I believe I take calculated risks and while their remains a chance that something could go wrong, I think the chance is sufficiently low to merit the rewards – feeling alive. For me, there is nothing like being focused on survival, every movement requiring many calculations to make sure it is the safest, slowing down time to its vital building blocks, and removing much of the fog between God and myself. And so I feel alive again today, shed of the grocery list/budget/email/shave and shower routine that is my reality.
I did come down earlier than planned. Why? My calculations were getting closer to a negative return on risk. I was climbing without a partner, no one knew where I was, and if it rained (in the forecast), the slickrock I was climging on would become just that – slick rock and I would effectively be marooned. Maybe it was the perspective of age or maybe having a 3 year old daughter waiting for me to return that made turning back a bit sweeter. But still feeling ALIVE.
So I'm back in Moab, and I must quickly talk about reverse culture shock. For three days, we were on roads that would politely be called lightly trafficed. Seeing another car more than once every 5 or 10 minutes was remarkable. So coming into Moab yesterday afternoon was a bit of a shock. Where did all these cars come from? We had dinner at Moab Brewery, which was not the most subtle of transitions from the solitude or small group setting of the last three days to the hopping "big" town of 5000. But I guess it will help us deal with Denver, which is where we'll be tomorrow night.
I promise the next blog will be a bit lighter and hopefully with a bit more humour, as I have several vignettes saved from previous days.
As a test, I'm putting a small video up. It was taken during my ALIVE part of the trek and documents that I found an arch. Since it doesn't show up on any map or descriptions in the area, I henceforth am declaring it with this video evidence as Paul Arch. Just don't expect me to fly a plane through it.