My fingertips greased off the phone from perspiration. Spastically, I scrolled through texts, forums and information on the internet in an effort to try to discern left from right and discover that last piece of clarity towards the summit. “This…”, I thought, “would guarantee a restful night’s sleep!” Forty miles north of Gallup, NM we rose over a wash and there it was. [Or so I thought] A gothic beast rising leaps and bounds above the desert floor. Across the road to the East, covering half the distance into the sky, it’s little brother caught a ray of sunlight between the clouds. And in the distance, just over the horizon, a smaller set of sails scoured the sandy swells.
‘Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught.’ ~ Proverbs 3:25-26
Shiprock, one of North America’s last, great mountaineering challenges. And for me, a true test in adventure. Minimal resources, suspect rock and out-dated equipment caused me to doubt my own reasoning for such a desire. Nevertheless, the past 26 years of my life had taught me one thing – “life’s no fun unless you get over your head every once in awhile.” And so we pushed on. In no time, swerving from one dirt road to another, the foreground of shrubs and dryness disappeared as a desert sandstone, volcanic massif captivated our gaze and wonder. I was immediately at it’s mercy. Such a presence, a total force to be reckoned with. Reminding me of what an ant I am in God’s world. Rising 1700 feet above the desert floor with no other mountain in sight, it held an eminence equal to my first sights of El Capitan. In the North, East and West ran three black-finned veins several miles long, illustrating the life this creature once had.
Through process of elimination we circled the West side in search of our objective, forging out, navigating talus fields and reading the rock. Dark would be upon us shortly, but it was necessary with an objective of this stature and size to study an approach and route. Staying calculated and precise would keep us out of harm’s way. For tomorrow was judgment day. Would our knowledge, awareness and faith grant us a perspective few experience?
See more photos in ‘Our Travels’ section at: http://wild-paths.com/travels/chapter2/shiprock/
Joseph Hobby 4/21/15
Brave Explorations. Soulful Discoveries.
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