I’ll have to figure out the date, but it was around 1987 December.
I flew with Kelly to visit my Uncle Larry, Mom’s brother and to explore Arizona a bit.
We ended up doing 2 hikes and a 2 day horseback trip.
We set out on the first hike through the superstition mountains and slept overnight near a big mountain. I have a pic somewhere, I’ll have to scan it.
Anyway, we got to the place that we ended up sleeping that evening – a big mountain with sheer faces all around. So we decided to leave most of our stuff and go for a walk around the mountain. As we walked, the trail became a ledge, but was quite easy to walk on – sometimes 4 meters wide and somethimes 2, but even where it narrowed, we just walked slower with our hands on the wall so that we would not fall over the edge. We were ascending and the cliff below us was getting bigger.
It probably took us an hour or more and we had almost returned to where we had started, but the ledge was getting very narrow, and it became a 30 cm smooth jut on a sheer rock face. And then it tapered out altogether. Not wanting to go all the way back around the way we came, we looked and saw that there was another small legde about 2 meters below the ledge we were on, also about 30 cm wide and it appeared to continue around in the direction of our starting point.
For some stupid reason, I thought that I could hang off the ledge we were on and I would be able to reach the other ledge with my feet, and I could check to see if it widened further along.
Oops. It didn’t.
OK. Now what? The fall was about 400 m, and there was a kind of rock spike about 200 m below me. So down was a direction that needed avoiding. The ledge that I came down from I was able to reach, but the rock was all smooth and the ledge that I was on was not directly under the ledge that I had to get to. That meant that if I slipped, game over. I considered sending Kelly back to get the rope – I did bring rope with me, and I saw that there was a point above us that maybe she could get to and drop me the rope somehow.
Problem was, it was already getting dark, and the hike back would take an hour and hiking back on the ledge in the dark didn’t seem like such a good idea. And the ledge that I was standing on was only big enough for my feet – I could’t sit down on it. And the thought of spending the night there was not something that I wanted to ponder.
And time started stretching. And I decided that I was going to try and jump back up to the legde that I came from. If I bent down, and jumped up, and planted my palms on the ledge, I figured that I could get my weight over my hands and then I could pull myself up. All this time I was watching the veins in my arms becoming very defined, my adreneline was soaring and all I could think was “I am never doing something this stupid again in all my life”.
And I jumped.
And obviously, it worked or I wouldn’t be writing this.
And four years passed before I found myself on another ledge asking myself how this could possibly have happened….