Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 143 - Utah Rocks - Pink Socks and Rocks

Aron Ralston was the young man who wrote the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place which was rewritten in the form of a screen play now on DVD titled 127 hours.  He had gotten stuck in a slot canyon and had to cut his arm off in order to survive.  We watched his movie last night and all I can say is he is truly blessed. Having seen these slot canyons with my own eyes I have a greater appreciation for his story. Having also read his story in Newsweek, I felt the movie left out two important points.  1) He was a little more humbled than the actor portrayed in the movie and 2) It was his mother that kept calling around trying to find him in these four days before anyone started searching.  She finally happened upon a ranger who knew EXACTLY where his truck had been parked for those last four days.

Aron readily tells the story of all the things he did wrong that lead him as he says, "to his destiny of being pinned down by this rock.  It was my choice."  He didn't answer his mother's phone call in which he knew he would tell her where he was going.  He had gotten out of the shower and had ignored her as she left a voice mail. He hadn't told his employer where he was going when his employer was asking him WHILE he made copies of the trail at the office.  He went alone.  He didn't leave a note. He didn't send anyone an e-mail.  The list goes on. 

The story also is told in a clever way in which it shows the updates of drinking water.  First from a view of the water coming up through the long plastic tube of a straw which ultimately turned into the tourniquet he used on his arm before cutting it off. Water is a big deal in the canyons.  They warned us if it starts to rain, GET OUT immediately.  A single drop of rain combined with all the rain comes down off the top of the other peaks in the canyon join to become a soaring river in a matter of minutes.  Flash flooding..

Looks like an Eagles Head

We were so tiny in this canyon, can you see me?

A man from Denver stopped on his way jogging to take our photo - how he ran, oh yeah, he's from Denver - higher altitudes there!
As we walked through this slot canyon, we used caution.  In fact so much caution that we made it the first 2.5 miles walking on every single rock and making sure to not get wet as we crossed the stream over fifty times!  Along the way Steve saw some beautiful souvenir rocks he wanted to bring back with him.  Along the 2.5 miles back up the canyon, we continued to take pride as we hadn't gotten our feet wet yet.  I hadn't brought any water and began to think that I would have to drink the muddy reddish brown water in the case of emergency.  I thought of Aron Ralston the entire time I was there.  Being careful of every rock, making sure it was sturdy before shifting my weight on it.  At the 4.5 mile mark with only 1/2 mile to go, dehydrated and tired from no food and being in the sun for three hours at one point my subconscious brain took over.  The right thing to do was to let it take over as it was clear that I wasn't thinking consciously anymore with clarity.  My brain told my foot to forget the rock and start walking in the water straight up the stream as to save time and get back to the car where fluids awaited us.  An uncontrollable laughter came over me and I just continued to laugh to the point that I couldn't breath.  It was so funny.  All the time I had taken to pain-stakenly make sure that I wouldn't get wet and now my socks were pink, filled with gritty dirt and wet. My white sneakers were now pink too.

I looked over at Steve who continued to walk on each rock and he took a leap over a narrower section of water and got wet.  He looked at me and said, "I can't jump as far with so many rocks in my pocket!"  He had continued to collect the rocks and added weight to his body. That did it, I couldn't move and kept laughing.  To think that between the two of us the story we would tell about the slot canyon was not about cutting off our arm but about pink socks and rocks!

Yes that does happen, as you pick up one small stone and then another small stone and then another small stone, its like picking up bad habits.  Pretty soon you don't go as far because the bad habits keep you down.  The right thing to do is get rid of a bad habit. One has to get rid of the rocks the same way in order to feel lighter and more in control, one at a time. The first bad habit for Aron to shed was to pick up the phone when his mother is calling him.  Nothing good happens if you don't.  The irony of his mother's persistence after being willfully ignored is a symbol of a mother's love.  She ultimately saved his life as he struggled to save it as well.  She was the stubbornest Rock of them all.

The river had carved this canyon out, this is a tributary from Bryce Canyon

Absolutely beautiful

A woman among giants!

Back out of the mountains!
No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.  ~Jack Kerouac

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