The average person’s stride is roughly 2.5 feet long. For the average person the FDA recommends 10,000 steps a day. Right now I can’t take one. For three months I struggled to take one. There are 2,000 steps in a mile. Last summer I took 40,000 in a day, and felt good. So this is what I’ll aim for; 40,000. A step seems insignificant until you can’t take one at all. There are a lot of things I’ve taken for granted in life, and if there is one primary (there are many more) things I’ve learned from my injury it is to appreciate the small victories; to take life one step at a time. I remember the day I could take a shower without sitting down, the day that I went to PT and could put weight on it, and the day the doctor told me to ditch the air boot and start walking again. This was just the beginning. I’ve now hiked the Elden Slabs, been climbing a bunch, started to run and jump again, and in two weeks I will get to crack climb. Throughout this process I have appreciated all of the small victories, but I’ve also been holding out for the sweetest one of all; crack climbing by Sedona season.
About a month ago after work I just took off and headed south. I found myself winding down the road to Sedona. I made the decision on an impulse and headed out into the blanketing rain with a dog and a cluttered mind. I had no idea where I was headed but stopped at the creek about halfway down, take a swim, and think.
With clouds on either side of me, the sun shining through a hole in the clouds I sat on a rock and thought. I began to ponder the usual suspects, balance, happiness, and motivation. Emotions of climbing in Sedona easily floated to the top, and so I dug deeper.
There have been two places in my life that seem to pull me in and draw on my heart strings, the mountains and the desert. Climbing in Sedona requires elements of both. I started to reflect on how my past 4 years in Flagstaff have been completely shaped by this.
When I first moved to Flagstaff I was unsure what to expect. I’d heard about paradise forks and that was it. My first few months found me venturing to the Forks every chance I could get, and then in November my life changed. I’d made a few friends, and convinced one of them, a strong sport climber, with little trad experience to join me on the Mace.
We groveled our way up and had trouble finding the words to explain the climbing we’d just experienced. Luckily the summit register was a bit more articulate with one ascentionist stating, “Climbing the mace is like wrestling a greased pig with sandpaper.” During this climb I formed two strong bonds, one that will forever draw me back to the sandy spires in Sedona, and the other with a good friend and amazing climbing partner.
Thinking about time spent in Sedona is not only a connection to place, but a connection to people. I have vivid memories of making new friends, unsure sometimes scary situations with old ones, and the joy I get from taking someone who’s never been. I’ve enjoyed shoving my body in cracks and wriggling up until the point of dry heaving, sharing hot coffee at the base, a cold beer afterwards, and talking about each aspect of the experience on the drive back to Flagstaff.
In times that I feel ungrateful for what I have I need not look farther than the fact that I am just simply able to go climb in Sedona and share those experience with good people.