It's the Climb

Delay to Belay

It's the Climb
A Hobble Creek Canyon Outdoor Climb

I remember the very first time I went rock climbing. It was summer of 2016, indoors at the University of Utah with the man who became my first husband. I could barely boulder half a wall. I never ceased to find opportunities to climb since that day, and I have explored a good amount of indoor facilities since. I even taught yoga at a climbing gym for a time and received free climbing in return. My ex and I talked of buying a rope and climbing in a natural setting, but for one reason or another that dream was never realized. When my first husband I separated, I was left with my shoes, harness, a belay device, and a choice: I could leave what was "our thing" in the past, or make it my own. And make it mine, I did. I continued to climb with friends and dates, and my love for climbing (barely) survived my second marriage, in which my ex did not appreciate the sport one bit. Fast forward to Saturday, March 14th, 2020. My current boyfriend and I took a spontaneous trip to the mall after dinner, where he bought a climbing rope and shoes at Al's Sporting Goods with a generous gift of birthday money. We do love climbing at indoor gyms, but the recent Covid-19 pandemic caused all the climbing gyms to close.

Today, March 16th, the weather happened to reach 60 degrees, so we took our gear and drove deep into Hobble Creek Canyon. He had been there a few times before and knew the way across a charming creek and up a winding path to the most textured rock I have ever seen in nature. It looked doable enough. We hiked up to the top to tie in with our new rope, and I repelled down a natural rock face for the first time in my life. Then, with my life in the trustworthy hands of my man, I began the ascent. I started strong, but the pulling and gripping quickly drained me. I admitted with a sheepish laugh that I missed my colored, labeled, artificial indoor rocks. As I struggled up the side of the bug and guano strewn surface, I had the shocking realization in several separate moments that I was really climbing a real-life outdoor rock face! I looked back to a time I thought I would never be able to climb outside because of the loss of my first husband, and all sorts of moments when people asked, "Where do you climb? Rock Canyon?"...etc., and I would have to reply that I climb 'just' indoors, or that 'I've never been outdoor climbing.' It was so frustrating at times. But now, here I was, hanging by a singular top rope, with legs shaking and hands aching, determined to make it to the top. Even when I had to restart, twice, my stubbornness kicked in and I made it to the top of the line huffing and smiling and shouting "whoo-hoo!" I know now that all good things will come with time, and that even if they are delayed it doesn't mean all the blessings this world has to offer aren't always available for accepting into my life. It was a timely lesson for what happened next.

When I regained service on our way back out of the canyon, I saw I had missed a call from my boss. The Corona virus had caused a ripple effect in the economy that meant my work couldn't afford me anymore. I lost my job to the modern plague. But I was too happy to be stressed. My guy and I celebrated our accomplishments for the day, and I filed for unemployment. I know this loss doesn't mean all good things have halted, it's just a delay on the way up to something better.

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Kaitlyn Braithwaite
See all posts by Kaitlyn Braithwaite