Pick up any publication pertaining to the sport of rock climbing, and chances are, you will see a smattering of descriptive chronicles highlighting the travels and adventures of the prolific scribe Abbey Smith. A climber and writer for over 10 years, Abbey travels extensively, financing her jet set lifestyle though her writing, allowing her more opportunities to pursue her love of adventure. Abbey has reported on a myriad of topics. From the exclusive hobby of vintage motor racing, to sassy, healthy-savvy posts on BeThree.com, to being on the editorial staff of the independent green publication elephant journal, a quarterly magazine devoted to living the "mindful life" through conscious consumerism, sustainability, eco-fashion and non new-aged spirituality.
Abbey's energy for writing is ravenous. When she speaks of it, her article ideas roll out of mouth in constant barrage without commas, periods, or other punctuation, but when placed in front of a computer, the word stream subsides into descriptive prose reminiscent of Joanne Harris. Dead Point Magazine is privileged to have her as a contributing blogger.
On September 24, at 6 am, I pressed reset as I escaped during the early morning light and headed east on 1-70. The options were (and always are): keep working vigorously to follow my creative pursuits unleashed, or buy a one way ticket to South America to start over, or get an office job and gain financial security but lose my independence and sanity. When faced with important decisions, I take refuge and go climbing. Something about driving for several hours along an open highway that washes away stress and puts life into perspective. The excitement for a new destination adds color to my canvas of creativity. With the anticipated fall conditions quickly approaching, I managed to uproot from Boulder for a month-long journey with Jason Kehl to the sandstone boulders in Arkansas and So Ill to focus on climbing and to reboot my system. The discontent of my unfinished projects and torment of dry, crisp conditions back home slowly fades with the passing miles as the images I crafted in my mind from photos, stories and daydreams become a reality.
The effortless highway heads straight east through "America's Heartland" for over 500 miles across sprawling Kansas flatlands of golden sunflowers and corn fields, and toward treasure in Topeka. Hand-drawn treasure maps surely lead to buried gold. iPhone GPS versus trusty road atlas. I struggle to operate the sophisticated machine that holds the answers. Mapquest.com was off by four hours. Trust instinct over technology.
After 17 hours, we arrived at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, just west of Jasper, Arkansas and awoke to a new day. Welcome to the dude ranch. From the doorstep of my Western-style log cabin, I watch horses gallop by, uncaged goats relax under a shady tree, and real cowboys performing their daily ranch work. My family would be so proud. The private canyon, bordered by a valley of cliff bands, is ideally set up for climbing and a model landowner and climber relationship. Short, casual approaches lead to a wildly thick and mossy forest with moderately tall single pitch sport and trad walls and perfectly sculpted sandstone boulders nestled in the woods. Intoxicated and humbled by new rock formations, textures, and movements. I'm remembering what it feels like to crimp down and try hard. Every hold and body position is spectacular. The mosquitoes are tiny, ligh t and lethal. Covered in cobwebs, I'm going to have to get over my spider fear. All these boys make me miss my girlfriends. What an idyllic place to hide. The Boardwalk Café in town serving fresh, local organic food and breakfast all day reminds me of home and inspires my optimism for change.
My journey continued to Saint Louis to celebrate Jamie and Dave Chancellor's wedding and lead to our main destination of So Ill. While on the road, I'm constantly reminded how fortunate I am have an outlet that's both mentally and physically challenging and allows me to step outside my comfort zone. I live in a nauseatingly comfortable bubble where the baristas know my coffee habits better than I do; where climbing season is all year; where everyone is healthy, fit and relatively stress-free. Now isn't the time to exist in isolation. It's time to press reset, experience something new, and rally for the "Change We Need." I live in a political battleground. For the first time since 1876, Colorado is the ultimate swing state and my vote can dramatically influence our fragile future. With less than 40 days remaining, I'm stricken with anxiety and fear, but try to remain confident in my generations ability for radical change. Travelin g shows how most of the world lives and thinks. Change is action. The time is now to unleash from insecurity and live your dreams. Time moves quickly and you can't go back. Now turn off your computer and seize the day!