30 September 2014

Only Thirty More Years Before I'll Be Considered A Local

About this time last year Tyler had already moved to Idaho and was settled in, while I was still doing the Camp thing. In our truncated weekly phone conversations he told me, "I love it here. You'll love it here." I wondered if he was just trying to reassure me, or both of us. I viewed the future with some trepidation; I was Committing, to a boy I'd been dating for less than a year, to a state I'd never been in, to an underhyped little dot on the map that I'd chosen on a whim. Was I suited for a Western life? Or, more specifically, a life in the northern Rockies, the last stronghold of swaggering American frontier spirit? I trolled Facebook, checking out the local places of business, getting a pang of relief with each discovery of an essential amenity: library, bakery, acclaimed bike shop with a coffee bar. I tried to ignore certain facts: average monthly temps, the percentage of the population that is entrenched, fundamentalist Mormon, the six months of winter and eight weeks of summer. I scanned Google Maps religiously, checking out the landscape and major roads (all two of them), trying to imagine the twisty drive up to the Ghee or over to Jackson. I zoomed in and walked through Victor and Driggs in Street View, noting with apprehension the piles of dirty snow, the dreary storefronts and abandoned subdivisions. But the Street View images must have been taken on some bleak January day; they don't encompass the rich farmland, dynamic skies, and inviting mountains. (I just revisited Street View and it must have been updated recently because now the Valley is a lush green surrounded by snowcaps, under a blue sky heavy with cumulus clouds. Seems about right.) 

I did as much research as possible but nothing on the Internet could've prepared me for what it's likes to be a part of this place now, to make new friends all the time because of the constant influx of young outdoorsy people, the way it smells on the ride home from work as the seasons change, the way it feels to linger in the sunshine outside the pub while all the dogs and little kids play in the grass. The Internet didn't tell me that everyone here is at least competent if not badass in a couple sports but that each person is defined by the primary one, the one he or she talks about with passionate longing in the off season. There are the Boaters, the Climbers, the Skiers, the Fishers, the Dirt Bikers, the Snowboard Mountaineer (that would be Dapper). To all our friends, I am by default The Mountain Biker, which tickles me. 

This weekend we went camping with some of the most avid Climbers to a paradise in the middle of nowhere, Idaho. (Most places of note in Idaho are lodged squarely in the middle of nowhere.) City of Rocks is apparently renowned and steeped in climbing history, and how could it not be? It's an expansive natural playground of huge freestanding towers, statues, slivers, and megaliths, all granite, crack-strewn, and jug-covered. The campsites are strewn throughout the rocks, tucked under trees at the ends of little footpaths. 

The gang was rained out Saturday and we spent the day playing cards, perfecting our tarp structures, drinking, and carousing. Sunday was dry so the Climbers set up cool routes and we all played for hours on hundred foot walls. I am a total beginner and hopeless with the gear but I climb above my pay grade through sheer pigheadedness and a healthy dose of ego. 

The drive home from the City retraced some of the roads I took from Tahoe to the Tetons, and I studied the vast empty land and remembered that feeling of being untethered and unknowing. It was so different from how I feel now.

Pretty much all of Saturday
Also, I FINALLY bought a waterproof camera! Wow! Maybe I will post more pictures. Maybe.

Tyler climbing, Dapper belaying

Some of the City

The aptly named Bloody Fingers route