The mountains are calling and I must go. Soon I will drive east out of Lander, bound for Casper and a flight south to Patagonia. This will be my seventh trip to Patagonia and it should be old hat by now. In some ways maybe it is and in others not yet.
I scroll through my Facebook feed and see a NOAA meteogram posted there. Nothing spectacular in and of itself or in what it displays, but its presence sends shivers down my spine and a twist into my gut. Once again it will dominate my most every thought. What is the weather doing? I will make the walk from the campgrounds to internet access, check the weather, then get up and walk back. I will make expensive telephone calls from our high camp. I will talk about it with all who are there. I know however, that what will be, will be. I have done this before.
Despite my familiarity with the place I am going to visit I am nervous.. I am not nervous because of the climbing, though that will come in time. I think what truly worries me is the 48 hours of travel it will take for me to go from one small airport to another halfway around the world. It is getting into town. It is finding a place to camp. It is talking in Spanish and carting around my luggage. I wonder what it will be like, how it will have changed Will it be crowded, expensive, wet, hassle filled? It is the getting there and getting established and learning the norms and assessing the available options that has me nervous, despite having done all of it before. The bags are big and the journey long while my body is small and Spanish muy malo.
All of that is still days away however. For now it is the usual packing pattern. I am house-sitting for friends and using their extra room for my organizational process. I am so grateful to Tova and Joe for letting me use their space. I have duffle bags, gear, lists and repairs going on in various parts of the room. There are lists of things to do and lists of things to pack. There are piles that are going and piles that are staying and places for things in limbo land. I hem and haw over the small details: one rope or two, two pairs of rocks shoes or one, duffle bags or back packs. Slowly the items are getting checked off the list and stuff is getting organized. Before moving to my current domicile several days ago, I was holed up in the place I call home, Room 306 at NOLS’ Noble Hotel. The gear organization had started there and as I tried to figure out the gear weights of my growing piles I almost broke my luggage scale in the process. Trying to keep it under seventy pounds total will be a challenge. Like I said the bags will be big.
In between the packing, fixing, organizing and gathering of equipment, I find time to sit and write, to climb, to practice my Spanish and to spend time with friends. Spending time with friends is what this month has, and continues to truly given me; more time with people I care about. Christmas will be here in town and the decision to stay here or go south to the desert was not one I took lightly. In the end though, friends won out and I was blessed with days of great wintertime climbing on the cliffs of Sinks Canyon, enjoyable nights out, and stress free time and space. I will look back on this time and smile.
But the mountains are calling and I must go…