Home Is Where the Heart Is – 3946 Miles

by Sonja Kramer Haag

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With each town I pass through, each home I visit, each open door I walk through I have become a presence in peoples every day lives. I am seeing not just new country that I have never seen before but I am learning how other people live in it, and with it. From Nashville to Vail to Southern California to Oregon, it has been a day in the life. Each of these lives are being lived so differently, yet there is a common interest; Family, whether that be your cousin, roommate, girlfriend, friend, pet, etc. It’s a constant and common circle, that when all else is uncertain or inconsistent, you can come ‘home’ to those who know.

The past few days that I was staying with Corey in Terrebone, Oregon, it was really apparent, that, no matter how much or how little you have, when you have people in your life who you can count on you have home. At Smith Rock State Park men and women sleep and live out of their vehicles or tents and they commune in the center of the park next to warm afternoon rock, under the shade of a tree and around the picnic table, where conversations of the afternoon follies and dreams of days are discussed. New travelers and explorers, they come and go, but some like Brian or Corey stay for months, even years. They live a life of adventure and movement, of lazy afternoons and limitless passion. And they live simply and happily.

This place, the Bivy, as is it known by its occupants, is something different for everyone who stays there and becomes a part of it. It’s the heart of a climbing Mecca, Smith Rock, it is a safe haven when you are running from something towards something else, or it can be just a stop along someone’s journey. For me, the Bivy holds something magical within its rings, there is an energy that calms and motivates, leaving room for reflection and creation, where dreams are reached and philosophies are practiced.

Now, I’m not a climber and I don’t walk static lines but I do understand why it is important for them to be out there, to be living differently than the next. There is no right or wrong way to do it, it just needs to feel right.

So, Corey and Brian took me out for the day, we left around 10:30 after coffee, breakfast and some morning shenanigans, playing on the short static line and trying out some partner Acro-Yoga. From the Bivy we took a short hike over and down into the toes of Smith Rock. We hiked into a gully where there were a handful of bolted routes, all having a name; Aggro Monkey, To Bolt or not to Be, Sistine Variation, Moondance etc., and Corey and Brian got to it. It was great to be there, with my camera, quiet and listening in on conversation of what they wanted to accomplish and how they would go about it, deciphering through climbers jargon and watching as they got it done. We spent about five hours in this spot, climbing and switching route, resting and snacking. Around 4pm we packed up and headed over to the next challenge.

Now let me put these guys every day into perspective a little more for you. When I say, “a short hike” or “headed over,” in the grand scheme of things and because I completed my day successfully I feel I can now use these terms so nonchalantly. But, what I really mean when referring to a short hike, is, it is a decent distance down into the valley on loose gravel, or up into a gully at steep grades on a small,l semi defined path with loose rock and gravel and the possibility of rattle snakes. When I say, “head over,” I mean scale up the mountain, through chimney’s of rock that you squeeze and contort and balance your way up through, to climb to even higher peaks on unsteady rock, wind up and around and up and up on skinny ridgelines and down and up again, all the while Im thinking, my dad would kill me if he new what I was climbing on. (Maybe the guys would think I am exaggerating, but for others, and myself, I am not. This is what they do everyday all day and they are in the best shape of anyone I have met, peak physical and mental shape, because of it) At sunset we reach our destination, what is called The Temple of the Wind, the newest edition to Smith Rock Park and the longest highline to be established there. I was witness to something that I never thought I would be a part of. I can now testify to the sublime beauty and, in the purest sense of the word, awe that is this act of walking on air.

Out there, where routes are planned and lines are stretch, for the first time, to distances beyond comprehension. Seeing is believing, and what I saw some of these guys do and attempt is something that most people won’t even think about doing. These boys are a small fraction of yet an even smaller fraction of a population, whom, for brief periods of time can set aside their fears to conquer the greatest of feats.

Smith Rock is a playground, for young aspirations to dance and play, resting in the back yard of The Bivy. It’s climbing and slacklining culture runs rampant through its gullies and dashes up its hills and rocks, chasing shade and reaching its highest peaks. Out there you answer to no one but yourself and the sun.

Truly inspired and grateful,

Sonja

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