Bouldering in Breckenridge

Wine hits hard at 14,000 feet, but even without it I can see why so many reported spiritual experiences occur on mountaintops. I’d never describe myself as religious, but between the view, the oxygen deprivation, and the endorphin rush from five hours of hiking, I can’t criticize anyone for saying they feel closer to God up here.

The descent whizzes by. I don’t even notice the scenery despite how beautiful Colorado is in June. There’s too much to reflect on. My brother and I don’t speak the whole way down for the same reason. Clarity resides in mountains, but it’s a slippery resource. You have to carry it back carefully, like a bucket full of water. It takes all of your concentration to avoid spilling any thoughts.

We eat all of the eggs, bacon, and blueberries in the house.

My family wakes up the next morning with the sun. We’ve heard there’s a bouldering spot nearby, and decide to go after we’ve finished our coffee.

“You used to climb, right?” my sister asks.

“Yeah, back in college. But it’s been…”

I realize I haven’t climbed in five years.

None of us rush to finish our coffee. We take it a sip at a time, and we talk. We’ve gotten to know each other again. Laughter comes easily. I quietly resolve not to let the daily grind put so much distance between all of us in the months to come, but wonder if I’ll actually keep the promise.

We boulder until our hands are shaking. It’s not like riding a bicycle; it doesn’t come back so quickly. Rocks take their time forgiving absence. I’m trying to massage the fire out of my wrists when I finally articulate the thought that’s been brewing all week:

“Why don’t we do this all the time?”

My brother shrugs, but we know the answer: this isn’t real life.

In real life, you get anxious when you wake up without the aid of an alarm clock because it usually means you slept through an appointment. In real life, coffee is not meant to be sipped. You must chug it as quickly as you can. And there certainly isn’t time to sit around and chat with your family in real life. You’ve got too many important things to do, like sit in traffic.

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