Monday, February 22, 2010

The time I almost died...

I've been working on my ceremonial 100th post for a few days now, but I thought I would share a story that came up while I was writing it.

Once upon a time, when I was about 11 years old, I hiked into the Grand Canyon and camped there for 3 days, despite the fact that I'm SO not a hiker...or a camper...or anything outdoorsy.

My uncle from Arizona wanted to take my older brother and I to do something he loved. He wanted to share his state and his interests with us. I adore my Uncle Tim, so we went willingly. Well, as willingly as an 11 year old can go.

When we got ready to start hiking, I was ready. Ready in the sense that I was wearing overalls (hello 1995!) and hiking boots...not so much in terms of hiking experience or any sort of training (hello 11-year-old Valerie attitude!). When I got my pack on, I discovered that it extended about 8-inches above my head. My uncle reminded me about 12 times that I should be careful about low branches. I'm sure I gave him a big eye roll. Let's remember that advice for later in the story.

My uncle also told us some tips about walking on the ice. Despite the fact that we were in Arizona, the switchbacks on the trail were still covered in ice, due to the fact that the sunlight rarely reached them. He encouraged caution on the ice, and explained that one should dig his/her heels in if he or she slipped. Insert adolescent Valerie eye roll #2.

2 hours later, I was hiking down the trail, grumbling about how my feet hurt and my pack was heavy. Suddenly, one of those sneaky low branches caught the top of my pack. I was jerked backward onto my back and started sliding down the trail on the ice. I managed to remember my uncle's advice, and I started digging my heels in, confident that I would stop.

Except I didn't. The edge of the switchback was quickly approaching, the edge that had a 200-foot drop-off to nothingness. I have never been so scared in my life. Damn those eye rolls and adolescent angst! I was going to die a little punk who ignored what now proved to be really, really smart advice.

Needless to say, I didn't die. I didn't even careen off the edge of the trail. I managed to finally get my heel dug into the ice a few feet before the switchback, got back on my feet and became a whole lot more careful from that point on.

One would imagine I was a much better listener after this incident.

You should ask my mom how that one turned out. :)

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