My hands, palms up, in my lap, are shaking. My legs, too, jerk uncontrollably as an infinitesimal number of red specks seep through the door to swirl around them as we hammer on. I don’t know why I’m looking down though (am I nervous?)—so I crane my head up, nose pressed against the glass in awe as this strange moonscape unfolds before my unbelieving eyes. “How does this exist?” I ask myself, as we bump down the road to the Maverick.
We’re alone in this gulch, bumping and bumping, climbing and climbing on the road until finally we see signs of human life: a jeeper. We keep driving, though, because we haven’t yet reached our first destination.
We’re alone here: “how odd,” I remember thinking.
The towering sandstone tower that emerges from around the bend of the cresting turn isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen before. Its black gleams, deep red glistens, and a brown darker than my skin call me in. Do I want to be part of it? Envelop myself into her cracks?
Yes. I do.
That first climb’s moves weren’t easy at first, but after getting off the ground, I found a sinker fist. Slot my right hand in, turn slightly to the left, clench, pull—I made gear. My body was an extension of the rock. I was in there, and I wasn’t falling out. The sensation of my bones bracing against the crack’s lip was strange: I’d never felt a connection like this to a static, non-living being before.
This was the day I realized that I loved to climb.