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Day Eleven: This Must Be Done

I'm trying to stand still for thirty seconds, and it's possibly the scariest thing I have ever done. Seems simple, right? That's how long I set the exposure on the camera, all I have to do is stand in front of it and try not to be blurry. I do it all the time...

Except this time it's very dark and I'm standing a few inches away from the edge of a triangular rock. On three sides of me is an inky black pit, thousands of feet of emptiness. I know there's nothing beneath me but death because I stood here in the light without a second thought. In the dark, everything is different.

As I slowly count, a gibbering starts in the back of my mind. The light breeze isn't so light, it might blow me off! My knee, my knee, it doesn't feel right standing still, what if it gives out? There's nothing around for me to grab, I will fall in the dark and they will find my tripod in the morning and review a long exposure of me slipping to my death... Is that sand under my feet? My footing is not as secure as I thought. I'm sliding, I'm sliding down the extra inches and I'm going to fall off! Gibber, gibber, gibber.

As I finish my slow count to thirty, it's all I can to gently step back from the edge, slowly and carefully. Turn around and walk the few feet back to another precarious looking rock which I can balance against and catch my breath. Review the picture and laugh at how bright it seems, how innocuous the rock I'm standing on looks. It's unreal.

I've done a lot of pretty scary things. I've driven a car over 200MPH, and I've ridden a motorcycle past 160MPH. I've not only jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hung off the wing of a plane at 7,000 feet, but I've had to untangle a twisted chute as I fell fell fell and got it to pop moments before I had to cutaway and pop the reserve. I've stood on unprotected ledges hundreds or thousands of feet over nothing. I've jumped off 100ft cliffs into lakes. I've ridden a zip line over a thousand foot drop. I've crawled through deep dark caves. I'm not a fear junkie, but I'm not afraid of fear.

With all that, standing on that ledge, in the dark, trying not to move... it was up there. Pretty bloody freaky! And just to make my point, I did it a few more times. Somehow it got worse each time. Wicked. :)

All that aside... let's talk about the Grand Canyon! Actually, let's not... why not you say? Because there's no point. It can't be described. The pictures can't do it justice. Hearing about it can't do it justice. I can only say this - This Must Be Done. Every person in the world should visit this thing at some point and experience it for themselves. It is obscene.

I'm actually really frustrated at the moment as a result. I didn't expect to be so impressed. I can't really experience it the way I want to, though. I can't hike down it and camp inside it because I'm not geared for back-country hiking and my right knee is still a little blown (and it reassured me of such when I hiked the two miles downhill-ish from Hermit's Rest). Plus I don't have anywhere safe to keep my extra stuff while I do it. On top of that, it's colder than I'm geared for. Basically, I'm doomed to scoping the rims and calling it at that. Really a bummer.

I will be coming back here, geared properly, in full fitness, and ready to spend some serious time exploring this place at some point. It's absolutely worth it.


Anonymous said…
It's always good to have goals. I'm glad someone taught you that. It adds a lot of spice to life when one has another "adventure" in mind. Pete, I'm so proud of you. This is a great piece of writing.

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