Micro Muse #2: Infinity in Joe's Valley

I'm telling you. Every time I sit around a damn campfire with a close friend, some beers, and a desert...you know what happens. WE CONTEMPLATE THE UNIVERSE!


Right now I'm in Joe's Valley, Utah, land of gold and black-streaked sandstone boulders. If you're unfamiliar with Joe's, here's a geographic breakdown: the climbing is split into three main areas – Left Fork, Right Fork, and New Joe's, all of which can be found in the Manti-La Sal National Forest west of the town of Orangeville, Utah. Check out this awesome interactive map of Joe's Valley, created by MojaGear, for a more detailed overview. If you've never been here...WELL WHY NOT?

In the Right Fork there exists a relatively new area called The Flu, developed recently by Cody Allen and friends. Last year, these guys made a fantastic documentary covering the history of Joe's and their development of The Flu. Check it out below.

Yesterday, Wednesday October 12th, my bfam Nate Davison and I smashed the 25 minute hike (the longest in Joe's Valley) into The Flu. Coming from the land of devastating hikes and heinous elevation (Colorado!), I was f***ing amazed at how desolate The Flu felt. It's not too surprising, however, considering the overall roadside attraction of Joe's. Why hike for a half hour when you can basically fall out of your car onto the start holds of a boulder problem?

But it's worth it. Hear me out. There are classics lurking in those woods. Like this one:

Me on Pandemic |V7|. A real slam dunk of a boulder. Photo by Nate.

I've been climbing in Joe's Valley for ten years. I've never climbed well here. It always feels hard; it always shears my finger meat; it always reduces my body to a dehydrated sponge. But yesterday I finally had my vengeance. I scored many V points. I think my Colorado conditioning factored heavily into the freakish marathon day – not to mention the periodic beer-guzzling inhibition loss. I felt awesome. I felt strong.

White Buffalo |V8|, featuring a classic Joe's-style, tendon-popping two-finger pocket lock. Photo by Nate.

I tried not to let it get to me. Despite the temptation to bathe my ego in a lush cascade of success, I refrained. Because where would that get me? If I started taking success for granted, if I expected it, it would start meaning less to me. And when the failure comes, I wouldn't be ready for it. Better to accept the fact that failure is just around the corner, and appreciate the little wins for what they are. I'll cherish them, I'll remember the day I felt strong and sent some boulders, but I refuse to imprint that success upon myself for my ego's sake.

Infinite Campfire

So, last night, slightly buzzed around the fire and staring at the moon, Nate and I thought about infinity. How and why did everything come to be? Is time real, or does the concept just fit nicely into human perception? The Big Bang – if you believe it really happened – is such a neat starting point for a finite spacetime. But if the universe is truly infinite, what the hell happened before the Singularity? No wonder we have such a hard time thinking about infinity – our entire existence revolves around finite mortal life, book-ended by birth and death. (Sidenote: learn a little more about the infinite universe from the great Fraser Cain of Universe Today here)

And that's what is most important. Determining whether or not the universe is infinite is fascinating, but it does not readily apply to my life. Yes, those cosmic questions are certainly a part of my daily existence; it would be awesome to understand that aspect of the universe before I die. But there are other, more pressing things to understand in the same timeframe. I wrote about them in a previous blog post. I made a list. 

Rock climbing will always be on my list. It will always be a part of me. I rarely feel so comfortable with myself as when I exist in the desert, a plain human in a vast landscape, a microscopic slice of the universe's endless consciousness.

The Flu |V8|. Tufa rails – pinches – gymnastic climbing – kneebar – crimps – ballsy topout. Perfection. Photo by Nate.

So concludes my rest day. Time to get my ass back on the sandstone. I'll be back with another Micro Muse in a few days. Thanks for reading!