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Ode to Scrambling

Scrambling over rocks is my favorite physical activity. It requires quick thinking, coordination, judgement, strategy, arms, legs, and eyes. The pace of it varies from slow, extremely deliberate moves from one rock to the next to breakneck speed hops across the tops of rocks. There are very many different modes of movement than normal and they encompass all three directions. Space becomes much more apparent from the space between rocks to the space your hands and feet take up to the space that you can jump. You can walk from one rock to another. You can slant your feet to skirt along the edge of a slanted rock, much more steeply than you would expect. You can set one hand down for stability, use both to climb a rock, put the two down to drop off the side of a rock, straddle between rocks, sit, shimmy, twist, turn, and bounce your way between rocks, through crevasses, and over boulders. More often than not, you end up in crazy poses that can be entirely horizontal or stretched to your very limits. You can spend a lot of time jumping from small hops between rocks to mighty leaps that cross arroyos and streams. With each move you have to use your judgement by being acutely in touch with your capabilities. You must evaluate each of the moves you are going to make to very precise measures of less than an inch. Some moves require the perfect adjustment of weight to stick the landing on the only spot with purchase available to  you. Some moves are dynamic with no intention of staying or balancing on a rock but using it to propel you in a totally different direction to a new landing. Some rocks will move on you or prove less ideal than anticipated in which you must make a lightning fast evaluation of the area around you and move instantaneously to a safer spot. You come to appreciate the slight ridges in a boulder that will give you hand and foot holds. You realize the angles that you can comfortably walk, those for which you should crawl, and those beyond the realm of possibility excepting that you have another boulder against which to push in the chimney-climber’s moves. The texture and types of rocks become infinitely more important and interesting, the amount of a rock that protrudes above water and the likelihood of something being slippery can mean the difference between exhilaration and injury. This risk ads adrenaline to what you are doing. It heightens your sensations and risk taking abilities. You look for new obstacles as the best path rather than something to be circumvented. You appreciate the fine details of wondrous places, the movement and flow of water and its power to move boulders into those locations, the hidden secrets beyond the next bend. You are able to come to terms with what you are capable of and realize your potentials. You feel like a superhero moving with unnatural grace across the land. You appreciate pauses to rest on a flat boulder, the athletic feats of your companions, and the beauty of the natural world around you. The exhilaration counterbalances the fatigue to make it one of the most enjoyable of endurance activities.