Intimidating storm clouds churn in over the western hillside as they release thunderous grumbles from within. The shattering crack of lightning in the distance exclaims that I might not have enough time to climb on the boulders dubbed “Hunter’s Rocks”. I am racing against the clock as I take my first steps across a barren creek bed littered with dried leaves that crumble under foot. The age-old weathered sandstone that covers a majority of Pennsylvania leaves its sediment washed along the forested ground conjuring up reminiscent thoughts of a hike leading to an isolated beach. As I crest the top of the trail; I catch my first glimpse of the natural jungle gym in front of me. My finger tips are tingling as I can feel excitement radiating throughout me. I am a kid on Christmas morning with an adventure wrapped in a large red bow sitting before me. I purchased my first climbing shoes 2 weeks ago, and with every opportunity I have had to use them I have been beaten by summer storms. Today I make my first attempt at breaking them in.
A cloud of chalk envelopes me as I clap my hands visualizing my route along the bulbous stones that stand in front of me. With my first grasp upon the textured rock it slightly cuts into my palms as if I were rubbing against sand paper. My straining muscles slowly pull my feet from the ground, and I begin the problem in front of me. With a deep breath in I move from one finger clenching hold to another, and with a deep breath out my feet follow. It is a puzzle that lies in
front of me with no clear direction other than up. Several moves from the top I am filled with a
slight uncertainty as my fingers strain to hold true to the stone. My mind races as I contemplate letting go to fall to the safety pads below, but I soon look past the direct problem of fear and find an overwhelming calmness from within. One more breath allows me to focus as my body moves with an assured agility reaching for the top. A blind slap of my hand over the final hump locates the closing piece to the puzzle. My fingertips anchor around a nub, and with all of my might I strain to pull myself over the top.
With an elated sense of accomplishment I gaze breathlessly over vast hillsides and into a pastel pink sunset. The first drops of rain from the building storm moisten my hair and begin to trickle down my face. The cool droplets are remindful of a champagne shower while standing on the champion’s podium, and standing victorious atop “Hunter’s Rocks” I was indeed.