This morning I woke up feeling as though I’d been dragged behind a pick-up. This morning I woke up wondering if the nightmare I just had was based on the meaningless murder of the Matthew Shepard. I am in Wyoming. I wear short shorts. I’ve a historically reenactive imagination.
But soon after gulping a glorious elixir pressed by the French—coffee, duh—all that gobbledygook was banished and I was left with reality:
Today is a rest day.
Now to most folks the luxury of waking up and deciding to do as little as possible is simply not an option. Yet, dedicated dirt-bag climbers, like myself, have no problem asserting that the rules of societal reason simply do not apply to them, to us. No, they, we, are self-respecting, according to their, our, own measure, or self-indulgent, according to their, my, parents. So today I will do nothing, absolutely nothing, because in the past two days I did more than most folks do in a month, and I’m fucking beat.
Two days ago I climbed 10 pitches. A pitch is half a rope length, and most ropes are 200 meters. So I gained roughly 1000 meters on vertical to overhanging terrain, using my body as my means of propulsion. Then yesterday I performed the same feat but on different paths. I jammed my hands in cracks and nearly burst my fingers’ tendons pulling on the tiniest of edges. I contorted my legs to angles usually reserved for the arms of a clock at midday or midnight. I engaged my core muscles for durations spilling over the levies of moderation and into the floodplain of masochism. All the while I stared death in the eye while singing, “Nanna nanna boo-boo, you can’t catch me.” So naturally I feel like a bunch of weather-worn two-by-fours held together with ancient and cracking rubber bands.
That’s changing, though, because I’m young and resting, recuperating. I had a banana for breakfast with a dollop of peanut butter and a fist full of raisins. I’m closing in on finishing my third half-gallon jug of water. I’ve been stretching every hour or so. And I’m about to take my first of several scheduled naps, right after lunch, which will be a peanut butter, raisin, and chocolate chip sandwich. The skin on my fingers is tight but I’ve been frequently balming them with a farmer’s friend and I’m sure they will return to the texture of coarse grit sandpaper, rather than the baby’s-butt they currently are, by the morrow’s morn, when I’ll once more pursue the vertical.
Once a passing sage said to me, “Peter, may your rock always be dry and your pussy always wet.” Well here in Lander it only precipitates about 12 inches a year and the majority of that comes in May, which it presently is not, so the rock is dependently drier than any martini I’ve ever had, but finding a willing lass to help you limber up your lower back is more of a challenge—one I will attempt to (sur)mount once happy hour smiles again.
Peter Nichols is a poet, rock climber, and vagabond originally from Toledo, Ohio.