Chalk dusting regular holds and the quiet, clean click of carabiners. Squeaking swallows, honking geese. Hundreds of tiny non-biting insects swarming the warm sunlight. Ponderosa pines in dusty ground; elephant's breath grey soil, a welcoming silt.
This landscape is majestic and somehow reassuring, protecting the valley with its massive walls and spires of rock, sheer and impossible, the outline crisp and gnarled on a skyline graced by raptors and ravens.
The rock calls us to it, climbers and non-climbers alike. We want to be near it, on it, embraced by it. Maybe some want to conquer it, as if that were possible. Some of the routes are amongst the hardest in the world. This rock commands respect, and it pulls my awe from the river to the skyline.