After a quick resupply, I put Vegas in the rear view mirror and set my sights on Idyllwild -- or Idy, as the locals call it -- a small mountain town with a big Yosemite vibe. I send Matt, who I’ll be staying with, a text letting him know that I’m on my way and as I settle into some of my first alone time in over a week, I realize how much excitement I feel for this leg of the trip -- to be in the mountains and to reconnect with an old friend. Actually, come to think of it, this leg of the trip was the whole reason I started to plan it to begin with!
Me and Matt, or Matty as I knew him back then, shared a close mutual friend when we went to college at the University of Colorado in Boulder. We saw each other at parties here and there, and always shared laughs and good vibes, but that was about the extent of our relationship. Recently, however, I had the chance to catch up with that same mutual friend and in our conversation, he mentioned that Matt had also really taken to climbing since school and was actually a physical therapist that focuses on climbers and all types of mountain athletes.
Um, what? I already knew we’d connect over climbing and our love for the mountains, but being the fitness nerd that I’ve become, I’m always seeking a deeper understanding of my body and how to stay healthy while pushing my limits, so hearing that Matt had taken this nerdyness to the next level made me even more stoked to chat with him. We decided to jump on the phone and just as expected, we connected instantly. It turned out that Matt was looking to create some new photo and video content to help promote his physical therapy business and soon we were planning a trip for me to visit. Before long, it was settled. I would help him produce the content he needed and he would share his bodily wisdom -- and oh yeah, we would climb a bunch too.
We spend the next week like a couple of Lost Boys from Peter Pan. We fill the days with adventure -- climbing, trail running, sunset hikes, exploring, anything that gets us outside. At nights we cook dinner and hang out in front of the living room fireplace until one of us starts to nod off. But regardless of what we’re doing, you can almost guarantee we’re wrapped up in quality conversation. Sometimes we discuss climbing or running, other times physical therapy or photography. But inevitably the conversation goes deeper, just as it did on the first night. We discuss our fears, our desires, our inspirations, our dreams -- all the vulnerable stuff seems to pour right out as if we’d been friends for years.
But we haven’t been, so what gives? Well, here are my thoughts.
Maybe you’re not too into all this “hippie shit” and are happy just chalking it up to good times outside with the buds. Cool with me! But whatever “it” is that we experience out there, it’s powerful. Sharing outdoor experiences with others has had a profound accelerator effect on relationships of all shapes and sizes in my life and it’s no surprise to me that many of my closest friends are the ones that I’ve logged some serious outdoors-time with.
On our way home from one final day of climbing at the historic Suicide Rock, we pickup some pizza and beer to celebrate our time together. Matt starts one last fire in the fireplace as I grab some plates and pour us some pints. We collapse in exhaustion from an action-packed week into chairs across from each other, smiling ear-to-ear, and lift our glasses to cheers. We celebrate everything from the beautiful day of climbing we just had, to the long-lasting friendship that we built over the past week, and all the nature that made it possible.