Awestruck doesn’t even fit what I was experiencing, I don’t even know what it was. I was awestruck, excited, in disbelief that this was reality.
I didn’t even remember falling asleep on the couch. I’m horrible at taking naps and would have never even laid down on a normal day. This day was different. I had just helped guide 30 teenagers through a canyon on a hot, cloudless day in the desert that morning.
I woke up to Dylan going through his rack, making a ruckus. I was still half-asleep when I heard someone say ‘Ancient Art’ and them talking about doing it tonight…
I didn’t know anything about this tower. I didn’t know what it looked like; I didn’t know how tall it was; I didn’t know it would change my life. I think that was the best part…not knowing what I was about to climb. I had no expectations, no beta, no idea of what I was getting myself into. I wouldn’t have wanted to have known a lot about Ancient Art now that I’ve experienced it. I think that’s what I would call it, experiencing it. I didn’t simply climb it, I experienced it. I experienced moments I would gladly trade my greatest possessions for to keep. I really got to know the people I was with…my coworkers, my role models, my friends. I had seen them, communicated with them, climbed with them every other day back home, but on this one climb we learned more about each other than we would’ve in a week back home.
The journey, as with any journey, started with getting in my Jeep. We loaded the four of us and gear in my Jeep within 30 minutes of me waking up and headed out. I drove, and Mollie was my passenger and directions giver. I followed her directions even when she said to turn onto this dirt road that she said she didn’t really recognize but it might be it, so we went down it anyway thinking something would jog her memory. I kept driving, passing an ATV trail head and onto a windy, muddy, and steep dirt path that was probably one of the funner roads I have taken the Jeep on ever. We crossed a stream around every turn we made, and since I didn’t have fenders on the Jeep at the time, mud flew right on top of the Jeep – and onto us since the top was also down that day. About 2 miles down this road, and after enough fun, Mollie finally decided that it wasn’t the right road and we should turn back. So I did, and equally enjoyed driving back the way we came just as much. So we made it back to River Road and continued to head East until we saw a sign that said Fisher Towers. Which was about half a mile past where we first turned. I turned onto that road and it was completely different than the road we first went down, and we laughed because of how opposite it was to the one Mollie had us on. I park at the Fisher Towers trail head, and we hop out, grab gear and water, and head out, Mollie yelling ‘Fast-n-Light’ the whole time. We made the boys carry the ropes because we could, but more so because Mollie said.
The approach was easy enough – a short hike on some relatively solid, flat terrain until the last stretch which goes around some switchbacks and involves some mild scrambling. There’s one corner that you come around and BAM! You see it all…those had to be the Fisher Towers! This giant, steep sandstone ridge with the weirdest corkscrew formations I had ever seen jutting out from the top of the ridge. Then there was the Titan…towering over everything…I’ll just say that its name is very, very fitting for this beast. When I could see the towers, I couldn’t stop looking up. Awestruck doesn’t even fit what I was experiencing, I don’t even know what it was. I was awestruck, excited, in disbelief that this was reality – that I was actually here…in the desert…because my job sent me there… All of these realizations about my life came to my mind, I wasn’t calm like most would be in a time like this. Of course I was taking everything in, but maybe that’s what made me think about my life so hard, was because of everything I was taking in. It was so striking, it made me think about every single detail in my life that has brought me here. Beyond the obvious, learning about Front Range Climbing and meeting my boss. What made me want to be here? What made me want to even start climbing? What made me love being outside and sharing that? What made me feel so comfortable and happy when I’m away from what I know?
Then it finally hit me in the face… the simple fact that has defined every single year of my life: I have no home. It’s something so weird to think about, even now as I’m writing it, it hits me just as hard. I’ve known it, or I’ve called the place I was born home because there’s still family there, but is it really home anymore? People ask me where I’m from and I really don’t know what to say, or I have to explain why it’s such a hard thing to answer. This all sounds awful I guess that I’m having a young-life crisis as I’m approaching this gorgeous sandstone tower, about to climb and summit it. It wasn’t really that awful or heart-wrenching as one might guess; after the initial freak out, relief came over me. Relief because I wasn’t bound to anyone, I wasn’t bound to any place that kept me there unless I wanted to be there. I was able to be free, and have the freedom and will to go wherever I wanted and experience things most don’t get to experience because they hold themselves back or tell themselves they can’t leave a place because it’s home.
Home isn’t a place, it isn’t people, it’s where you’re comfortable, content, and most happy. Mine is climbing or guiding by day, then making dinner in a truck bed or on a campground table for everyone, sitting around a fire with people drinking beer or trying moonshine for the first time by night, and going to bed in my sleeping bag…then waking up and doing it all over again. My home is my experiences or adventures I guess. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s the best I could come up with.
We arrived at the base of Ancient Art. The steep sandstone wall right in front of us.