Thursday, October 6, 2011

Parachute Adams and Boulders; or, How We Found Our Bliss.

It's early morning -- that pitch black kind of early. Later, my sister Erica will ask me what the heck I was doing, being up at that hour on a weekend -- texting her at that hour on a weekend. Are you crazy? Funny thing is though, while my body despises early rises on workdays, on days off there's a different connotation to those words -- early rises -- and that, gets me out of bed.

Coffee spills on my open map, making fingerling trails on my keyboard while I look at a photo glowing internet blue on Mountain Project. That's it -- the offshoot climber path which will find me Erica in the boulders, like a needle in a haystack.

Banjo loads himself into the car. He's getting impatient now. I grab my coffee. And we go...to find Erica.

But first, to find trout. High up. Step after step feels good -- I need to walk and talk to myself. There's an eerie lack of other people on the trail, and I'm more than fine with this. I take more steps. Alpine sage roasts in the sun, and many aspen leaves have already fallen, filling my nostrils with fermentation that's almost off-putting, but not quite. The smell of death without the sting.

Finally I've gone high enough, and find the high lake waiting -- just for me -- there's not another soul in sight. Nestled down in a bowl of willows, nature has built her the opposite of a moat -- surely, in protection of something. Indeed, anything surrounded in such a way must have something worth the getting.  So I start down from the trail, soon over my head in the willows. Banjo let's me go first, pretending to be a gentleman, and follows close at my heels...on them sometimes.

After navigating the moat and finally reaching the bank, I discover the somethings -- trout, cutthroats, cruising along the bank -- like small-town highschoolers on Main St. after school. Both usually eating -- Parachute Adams or Big Macs -- this, of course, is entirely species dependent.


The 10% chance of afternoon thunderstorms comes early, on the dot at noon, and in hail form to boot. So I start heading down to find that internet-blue-glowing trail in person, and the needle in the haystack, my sister. I'm excited, and Banjo is too. It's as if he senses Erica will give him cheese puffs or something.

Although she's younger by 3 years, I look up to her -- both literally and figuratively. She may not know it, but I've learned a lot from her in the past few years; mainly, that I can't live my life for anyone else, and I shouldn't even try. She lives with a delightful abandon, and has found her bliss. Bouldering. And just like her horsemanship, musicianship, and understanding of physics and retina-frying lasers, she's good at her bliss. Really good. 

I find her chalky handed, and watch her strategize the route and prepare-- brushing, chalking, and ticking. It strikes me as so very similar to my fly fishing, her bouldering -- it isn't just climbing up a rock, just as fly fishing isn't just casting out a bobber from a lawn chair -- and there's a mind game to both.

Now she's ready...and now she climbs...


But soon the hail and rain start again, and we sit in a cave waiting it out, talking and snacking and sharing said snacks with Banjo. When it’s time to start hiking out, I walk away smiling. Happy. Happy because I love my sister, and because I know that we’ve both found our bliss and that we’re living it – with delightful abandon. And I smile in thanks, knowing that I can always find her somewhere, here amongst the boulders.

35 comments:

  1. Very nice read..funny isn't it, how during the work week all we can think about is sleeping in and when the weekend rolls around we find ourselves up at the crack of dawn anyway. Must be something wired wrong in our fishing oriented brains!!

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  2. Really nice story. I especially like comparing trout to bored high schoolers.

    Once again, you have satisfied my sweet tooth.

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  3. Love the colors in that cutthroat shot. I saw a piece on 60 mins Sunday about a free climber, which I guess is an extreme form of bouldering. I think I'll stick to fishing and hunting where generally the consequences of a miscalculation are less... ummm...bone shattering.

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  4. Fine comparison of climbing and fly fishing. So nice that ya both have found that bliss.

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  5. HighPlains - Wired wrong, crossed wires....explains a lot, doesn't it!? :)

    Mark - All the cutts up there were stunning...more breathtaking than the scenery, which is saying something! Yeah, free climbers are crazy...I'd scold my sister if she ever did anything of the sort. Bouldering is less "bone shattering" as you say. Thanks a bunch for stopping by!

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  6. Rhythm Rider - Thanks...and yes, it is!

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  7. I tell myself every Friday night, tomorrow morning I'm getting up no earlier than 6am. Come Saturday I'm awake at 4:30. Worst you can get fishing, is a fly in the ear. (maybe that's not quite true, most times anyway)

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  8. Phillip - Yes, most times :) And I'm heartened to know I'm not the only crazy one waking up before dawn on a weekend!

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  9. geez, you can write really well erin.. awesome story, a super enjoyable read

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  10. Love this one! For obvious reasons, as I think you and your fam are just great! I was looking at my bouldering shoes this week in fact, and thinking I should really make some use of them sometime next summer! :)

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  11. Strong kinship and even stronger forearms :-)

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  12. Travis - Thanks! I'm really glad you stopped by and enjoyed the read...cheers!

    Celery - Your shoes! You still have them!? Yes, make good use of them next summer...in Colorado! ;)

    Dave - She's scary strong!

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  13. "It's early morning -- that pitch black kind of early"

    That really rang a tune with me.
    The excitement of what the days fishing has in store and all before the sun is out of its bed.

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  14. Beautiful fish. Cool relationship.Good story.

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  15. Ah, the free life. Took me a few years to find it; glad you and Erica are finding it while young. And what a blessing to love siblings, a blessing I fully enjoy, too. Thanks.

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  16. Mark - The sun gets lazy this time of year, getting out of bed well after me most days. And somehow waking before it makes even mundane days seem all the more adventurous!

    Mag - Ah, thanks!

    Herringbone - Many thanks.

    Jim - Indeed, the posts you write about you fishing with your brother always make me smile...for the same reasons. :)

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  17. Physics, lasers, Boulder? Sounds familiar. I'm beginning to wonder if I have met your sister!

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  18. Tim - haha...perhaps..it's a small world, after all! Especially the physics world as I understand it. Is physics your field of work?

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  19. Well done.
    Your writing always makes me smile..... and think.

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  20. Who needs big macs when you got bugs to eat :)
    Beautiful fish. Nice post. I really enjoy your blog.

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  21. "early rises"...something I didn't understand for a long time. Now I can't get enough of them.

    ...bliss is a good thing :-)

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  22. Very nice! Add 40% to every "chance of thunderstorms" forecast when in the high high country;-)

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  23. Not many things can drag me out of bed at an insane time of day, work and fishing are about the only two!

    Being the older sibling i think you inherit the 'sensible gene' from your parents, younger siblings do not share this and are free to live how they please :):):)

    Lovely as ever Erin.

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  24. Brk Trt - As do your comments, sir...

    G Lech - Honestly, I hate to think how many bugs I've eaten in my lifetime...and dirt, for that matter...and manure...and oh I could go on. ;) Thanks so much for reading, and for the kind words...very much appreciated!

    Sanders - I know...right!? And yes, a very good thing indeed. Also, can I say, that bulldog pic of yours always makes me grin.

    Gary - Thanks! And yeah, I think that's probably a much better percentage to go off of!

    Tom - I think that has been the psychoanalysis of me and my sister many times... :) Thanks as always, Tom.

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  25. Whenever I see the percent chance of precipitation in the weather report I automatically think that it's the percent of the day that it could rain when in fact it's the percent chance that it might rain all damn day. But my brain still tricks me every time.

    I'm certainly deeply satisfied with where I am in life, but I'm not sure I'd call it bliss. Maybe it's the same thing and I'm quibbling over semantics. Regardless, it sounds like you're in a good place with both yourself and your relationship with your sister.

    I too have grown closer to my siblings as I've grown older. It's been deeply rewarding.

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  26. limpcobra - :-)

    Steve - Actually, that might be a better way of looking at the percentages...I might actually start doing that. It's more fun, anyway! Well, I hate my day job....but my dad tells me that's just because the things I do on my off-days are so exciting. Could be. Could be. Anyhow....satisfied? Yes.

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  27. emb: When I was in boulder '04-'10 I was studying physics/lasers at the university. If your sister was there while I was there is an excellent chance we met. Small world indeed!

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  28. Tim - Well, she was in school...but at Colorado School of Mines in Golden. So same subject, but different school.

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  29. Wonderful Erin. I love the idea of the two of you being able to meet in the mountains chasing two entirely different pursuits.

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  30. FR - Thank you...and I love it too. In the wilderness, there's still direction...

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  31. Glad to see you have some similar addictions as well!

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  32. Troutdawg -- Indeed! And which some would call 'sicknesses'.. ;)

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