Perfect Storm

Written in Memory of Fly’n Brian McCray on the one-year anniversary of his death.

It was a dark day, threat of snow, cold. It was to be the start of winter, weather was coming. Should we try it, yes!

IMG_2291Hiking thru the rhododendron and crackling the dried, fallen leaves, we wormed our way down the giant wooden ladders to the base of the cliff. I can’t remember the warm ups or even who went first. I remember the route was crisp, my feet stuck like on fly paper. Every move was easy, my body strong, but relaxed. It was just us that day, with the low clouds, the wind rustling what leaves were left, swaying what hair straggled from underneath our hats. I sent!

We hiked our stuff over to his project, a short distance away. It was one of the most magnificent on the cliff and probably his hardest up to that point. Glistening white, it looked more like granite than sandstone. He looked up in intimidation and reverence and began. As each move was performed with exact precision, he made his way up, blasting through the most powerful moves and delicately handling the crimps and tiny footholds. And he did it. All smiles I landed him safely. We hugged and had a quiet moment enjoying the day, our successes, as well as being able to experience this together in our favorite place.

We decided to skip the ladder and take a walk along the cliffs to look for what was next or just enjoy having it all to ourselves. Just then it started to snow. Large flakes filled the air and swirled around the rock and trees. We continued, remarking, gawking not really paying attention. It really began to snow and it was starting to stack up on the ground and ledges.

He knew of a climb out and thought it the fastest way out. He headed up with a rope, but only sport gear. The holds were slippery, dirty and filling with snow. Heads up, he meticulously chose each hold and avoided dirt, without sound. A couple of moves later, he grabbed a tree and the summit. On belay I headed up slipping on the snow covered footholds and ledge, definitely some whimpering and finally to the top. We headed back through the rodo to the car. Pretty much the perfect day in both our minds.

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