Changes in gravity

Posted by Ken Campbell April 22, 2010 0 Comment 742 views

I found a walking stick the other day, wrapped some spare line around one end of it, as a sort-of handle, and used it on a couple of short hikes last week. It got me thinking about how I never used to use sticks or poles while hiking, back when I was, you know, younger. Things are different now; I’m slower and I seem to want more support.
This must be how it happens, getting old. Not all at once… almost imperceptible really, a series of tiny changes that are virtually invisible at the moment they occur, but in hindsight can be seen as part of a larger curve of time. Almost imperceptible, but not quite. Sometimes a moment is frozen in the mind long enough for it to be seen for what it is, a tiny milestone on this goofy voyage of physical entropy.
The other morning at Goblin Gates, I made a choice I would not have made in years past. There is a route down the rock at the end of the trail that descends 15 feet or so toward the rushing water, then ends at the east pillar of the Gates themselves. It would have been an awesome perch and I could see the route clearly. Objectively, it would not have been a difficult task to down-climb to the pillar, then scramble up the side of the stone. I am pretty sure that I could have done it.
But I didn’t. Because I couldn’t help but think of the consequences of a misstep, a fall into the swirling current, being swept down the river, flailing through the canyon just below. I was frozen by possible consequences. Some might see it as a sign of maturity, and perhaps it is… it depends on what the word maturity means to you. I just know it is something that I would have done without thinking, not all that long ago. In that moment when I made the decision not to go I had one of those little moments of clarity, one of those entropic milestones.
The future seems to call for less bravado, more walking sticks.

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