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.