I am perched, harnessed into the tree to my right, soaking in the sunshine of big sky country, thinking about……nothing. Somehow, 400 vertical feet above flat ground, nothing matters. I am nearly nothing but matter: minuscule, unimportant, humbled. Unanswered emails awaiting replies of commitment and obligation are merely extinct. Glacially carved gneiss, a form of metamorphic and igneous rock, rises from the valley floor, piercing the incoming clouds and protecting our sunshine. Pat Kammen and I are in Beehive Basin climbing the southern face of Beehive Peak, more specifically the "New World" route. I am entirely relying on a tree trunk, no bigger than 4 inches in diameter, to protect a fall and remain in balance. Here, in this moment, safe is risky.
What allows you to experience an unmitigated presence; more specifically, how do you stop time?
Recently, I have had trouble finding time for recreation. My time and energy have been focused strictly towards seizing life's pragmatic opportunities. Meetings, strategic plans and proposals have flooded my capacity. We tell ourselves "our tunnel vision has something valuable at the end." Does the tunnel ever end? I can neither answer nor facilitate this question, but more importantly, allow you an opportunity to reflect.
Climbing is meditation, religion and sport. Holding onto Earth's surface, for dear life, as weather comes & goes, wildlife chirps & parades, and one's cognitive control advances, creates a sensory generosity. One's awareness and ability to savor minute beauties produces arbitrary totality. At 10am, Pat and I begin our 4 mile approach. We are immediately greeted by a couple warning us of a moose and calf around the bend, prompting adventure-mode. I have my camera ready - an idea worth developing another time ( to document or not?). The cow moose and calf trudge through wetlands uninterrupted. After another mile or so we are warned of a black bear off the trail of which we never see. Once in the meadow, Pat and I run into a herd of skittish mountain goats. Shooting from the hip, I photograph the action. Whenever I am able to mesh my existence amongst nature's righteous temperament, I feel time has stopped.
Pepper jack cheese, trail mix, chocolate and water is shared at the base of the crag as we study the guide book. Pat and I are great climbing partners trusting each others every move and knowing each others every next move. I like to "wing it" and push our limits, while he has concern for safety and practicality - we meet in the middle somewhere. Pat is a mentor, inducing confidence and direction. As I harness cams and stoppers to begin the ascent I am nervous, anxious and chipper. Although our adventure began at the parking lot, the essence of being begins now. No longer touching the ground, I am forced to continue upwards escaping security.
We alternate pitches until summiting Beehive Peak. Pat and I had tried a winter ascent of Beehive Peak last January yet turned around about 100 feet from the summit. As we basque in the accomplishment and soak in the views, I spot a billy goat a top an adjacent peak, majestically "perched."