Tuesday, May 25, 2010


From 2010 Spring

I don't have any photos of the moment Trina started to fall down the cliff.

We were "hiking" up a steep canyon-side that had grown progressively steeper. Instead of turning back or trying another route, we continued upward.

A few short yards to our right was a near-vertical drop to the stone creek-bed far below. But where we were, it was merely a tough "scramble" in spots. Certainly not tough enough to merit going all the way back down the way we'd come to find another route.

Still, it was tough enough -- over slab rock, tumbled rock, and through clinging brush and stunted trees. There were a couple spots where our agile little dogs weren't able to make it on their own. One of us climbed up a short way, and the other of us handed up a dog.

Zeek has been through this. He'll patiently wait on a ledge where we plant him and wait for the next hand-up. Sprocket, the red dog, is newer at it, but seemed to be catching on.

We were on a sloping slab by a wide crack where Trina had handed the dogs up to me and I'd gotten them settled. Then she scrambled past me and started up the steepest piece of it all, just before it began to level out again.

I handed up Zeek and she held onto the rock with one hand and hoisted him up above her and onto the safe ledge above. Then I handed up Sprocket. He was a little twitchy about all this, his eyes bulging a bit and his ears flattened out. I did my best to make him feel safe as Trina got a hand under him and began to lift him upward.

This was going well until he was at about her chest level and between the rock and Trina. He got a little anxious about it all and did what he felt was the safest thing: he scrambled to get his feet on the rock. He got his feet on the rock. And then he stood up. Which wedged Trina away from the rock, pushed her off her one handhold, and her feet slipped.

In a split second she was falling. She instinctively grabbed a tree branch with one hand and squeezed Sprocket with the other -- enough to make him squeak. I heard the squeak and reached up to press her feet and legs into the rock to stop her. By that time she had pretty much stopped herself with the tree branch. She was scuffed on knees and elbow and thigh.

She got her feet back under her and scrambled up with Sprocket. I followed. On we went up less steep terrain.

This was not a major event in the annals of mountaineering. We know that. Her fall was no more than a couple feet, and was more of a slide-downward-on-a-rock than an actual "fall". But it did cause us to question that fine line between "fun" and "oops". And hopefully our questioning will help us avoid more "oops" in the future. But dang, being out there where the fun is does have a tendency to put one in the path of the occasional "oops". Which, I say, is a risk worth taking.
From 2010 Spring

From 2010 Spring

Our scramble had purpose. Part of which was to enjoy the scenery, which, as it often has of late, included some blooming cacti. The more focused purpose was to experience a different kind of fall. The human body is three quarters water. One might think it would fall more gracefully. But alas, the grace of water seems more apparent when it is on its own.
From 2010 Spring

We had lunch along the creek on a beautiful rock shelf. After more exploring we made it to where the creek plunged from above in frothy streamers down a channel in the the cliff, then under a water-carved stone bridge and through a series of smooth pools over bare rock. An amazing and beautiful spot. We sat and absorbed the sights and the sounds, letting the rolling hiss, the splashes, the textures and earthy colors, the flowing patterns soak in.

Like water.

From 2010 Spring

From 2010 Spring

From 2010 Spring


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