Let’s continue our visualization…

It’s a fantastic day at the crag!  I just sent my first outdoor sport route of that grade and I’m psyched out of my mind!  I also calm down enough to realize that I’m pumped out of my skin, too!  I take a break, turn off my GoPro that’s mounted to my helmet, and James decides to try his first sport climb in the canyon since his bike accident last summer.  He ties in and AJ has him on belay.  They do a partner check, as we all do every time we get ready to climb, give each other a fist bump, and James gets both hands and one foot in place.  He hesitates for a moment and looks down the hill at Emily and me.  “You can do it, James!  Just take it slow!  Nice and easy!  Just do what you can do!”  James breaks into a big grin and pulls onto the wall.  The first few moves go well and he takes them carefully to assess any pain that he might have.  He did, after all, shatter both bones in both his lower arm and lower leg in that accident.  James’ positive try-anything, go-after-it spirit has not left him, though.  He remains positively James!  He manages the crux of the route and is well on his way to finishing.  We offer encouragement as he nears the anchors.  For not having climbed in so long and having recovered from such injuries, he makes clipping into one of the anchor bolts to clean the route after sending it look easy!  He’s winded, so he decides to rest with his PAS clipped in direct.  We all cheer, haha!  James made it!  After catching his breath, James begins the process of getting the rope situated so that he can clean the anchor and draws from the bolts on the way down.  Once successfully on the ground and off belay, he gets a huge hug from Emily and I give him a double fist bump.  AJ pulls the rope, James reapplies sunscreen, Emily gets her gear together, and I look on for a few moments, grateful that I have such great climbing buddies and feeling blessed to have been given this gift of climbing from God Himself.  AJ comes down and joins the three of us.  “So, what are we climbing next?”

Much later, after a long day of phenomenal climbing in the sunshine, we decide to call it a day and head back down the approach.  I adjust my trekking poles and drink a few swigs of water.  Sweaty, stinky, and dirty, the four of us start down the switchbacks of the slope.  I’m so glad I have my trekking poles with me, not that they take all the pain away from my knees, but they reduce the pressure on them significantly.  Every step downward is one step closer to the truck, where we can all sit down and grab some more water.  I find the descent much easier this time around, both due to the trekking poles and the weight I’ve lost over the last six months.  Even though every joint in my body is screaming at me, it’s better than not being here.  The view on the way down is beautiful and we reach the truck with no mishaps.  Tossing our gear in the truck, we all flop into the seats, shut the doors, and sit there for a moment.  Back to camp at the Brewery for some quality pizza and beer!  Their pale ale is the best!  As I drive down the winding road through the canyon and back to the Brewery grounds where our tent is pitched, I wonder what tomorrow will bring.  This year, we’re staying for three days instead of just two, so we have tomorrow and the day after that to look forward to in terms of climbing.  Fantastic climbing!  This canyon is a limestone paradise and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now!  There isn’t much conversation going on because Emily’s resting with the occasional head bob to the music streaming from her iPhone through my truck’s SYNC system, and AJ and James are ogling the guidebook in the back of the cab.  We get to the camp and, once I park the truck, we all head into the Brewery.  Cold pale ale never tasted so good!!!  After my second glass and some pizza (I can’t tell if it’s good, but it’s never tasted so good!) from the trailer bakery pulled in outside, I saunter across the grass past the vehicles to the tent.  Fortunately, no one stole the solar panels I set up to recharge my Goal Zero Yeti 400 battery that powers my BiPAP machine, and my battery is at full charge.  I put some distilled water in the reservoir of the machine and make sure it’s ready to go for the night.  I have my headlamp on and make my way back to the building with the companionship of the Brewery’s yellow lab.  He’s my personal escort and the sweetest dog I’ve ever met.  He must have been a service animal at some point in his life.  He was my constant companion last year all night long when I needed him.  I write a blog post at the table on my iPad Mini.  The cell service here at the Brewery is at full strength!  Last call.  One more pale ale.  Okay.  I’m done.  Time for meds and bed.  I put my BiPAP mask on, get settled in my sleeping bag, fluff my camp pillow, and fall asleep straight away, surely with a smile on my face, for I’m dreaming of climbing and the awesome life that I have…

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