127 Hours By Aron Ralston - chapter 1
You are going to die.
I hear the voice in my head. I call it my first voice.
It always comes after I’ve made some kind of mistake. Its words never help, they just make me feel bad. So I wait for the second voice. Its words are calm and sensible and nearly always help me. I wait, but tonight the second voice doesn’t come. There is only silence, darkness and cold.
In the first days, the second voice always came. It stopped me feeling sad, angry, or afraid. It gave me ideas. It showed me things. It brought me hope. I believed I could be free again. But, slowly, that voice disappeared. My belief disappeared with it. Now there is only the first voice. It says the same thing over and over again. Finally, I must accept the truth: I am going to die.
‘The most beautiful place on Earth’
It is Saturday, April the 26th, 2003. My name is Aron Ralston. I’m biking and hiking in Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah, USA. Edward Abbey, one of my favourite writers, described it as ‘the most beautiful place on Earth’. Right now, with the sun on my back and the wind in my hair, I agree.
Today is the third day of an activity holiday. It started on Thursday when I went climbing and skiing on Mount Soplis with my friend, Brad. Yesterday, I biked the Slick Rock Trail, alone. It’s not very long – only a little over nineteen kilometres – but it’s one of the most difficult bike trails in the US. Today, my plan is to hike through Blue John and Horseshoe Canyons after biking to the trail. I’ll leave my bike at the end of the trail and hike back to the carpark. I’ll drive over in the truck and collect the bike later.
After that, I’ll drive to Goblin Valley, about eighty kilometres north of here. My friends are having a party there. I hope I get some sleep because tomorrow I want to hike the most popular trail in southern Utah – Little White Horse.
I plan to spend the whole of Monday biking along the White Rim Trail. The trail forms a rough circle of 175 kilometres. It’s not difficult and I should be able to finish in about eighteen hours. By Monday evening, I’ll be back in Aspen, Colorado. Aspen is famous for its mountains and the countryside around it. It’s a popular place for skiing. I live there and I work for Ute Mountaineer, a sports equipment shop. Leona, one of the people I live and work with, is having a goodbye party on Monday night. Now that winter is over, she’s going to another town in Colorado to work as a gardener for the summer. Her party will be a cool way to end my trip.
8.45 am I arrive at the Horseshoe Canyon carpark early in the morning, pull my bike from the truck and lock the door. Then I check the time: eight forty-five in the morning. As I start cycling, I wonder how quickly I can get to the start of the trail.
I can now see the sign pointing to this end of the trail.
That means I’ve cycled thirteen kilometres in less than two hours. That’s good. It will give me more time to finish my hike back to the truck. I lock my bike to a tree and start walking.
As I walk, I think about the history of the people who were here before me. One of them, Butch Cassidy, was very famous. He and his men stole horses and hid from the law during the last years of the nineteenth century.
Since that time, the area has been called Robbers Roost country.
My climbing bag is heavy with the weight of my equipment. I think about my plan for the day. Blue John Canyon will be the most difficult part of the hike.
Three kilometres along the trail is the Big Drop Rappel.
Here, the canyon suddenly drops eighteen metres. The hardest part is 180 metres before this. The walls there are very narrow and the trail goes up and down, sharply. There are also a lot of very large rocks called boulders, stuck between the canyon walls. If these boulders move or fall, they can be dangerous.
But I’m not thinking of danger at the moment. I am excited. Today, I will finally see the Great Gallery. The Gallery is part of Horseshoe Canyon, and it’s famous for the huge rock paintings which cover its walls. Some of them are more than five thousand years old. I should reach my truck by late afternoon. So far, things are going well. I arrived here earlier than I thought. This gives me a little more time to finish my trip.
I always get very excited when I’m about to leave on a trip. This means I sometimes forget things. Before starting this trip, I forgot to leave a message telling anyone exactly where I was going. This is one of the things my mother taught me. But this time, I just called a quick goodbye to my housemates – Brian, Joe, and Leona. Leona asked where I was going. I told her I was going to Utah and promised to be back for her party. Then I got in my truck and drove away.
I can’t wait for adventure. It makes me feel happier than anything. It’s part of who I am.
I’m on a high rock, looking down at the trail. I’ve stopped because I can hear voices. This surprises me. I had expected to be alone. Two young women suddenly appear below me. I feel pleased. I’ve spent the last eighteen hours alone. It will be good to have company for a while.
‘Hi,’ I call as I climb down the rock. The girls hadn’t noticed me. They turn, looking a little nervous. I guess they are about twenty-five years old.
I smile and hold out my hand, ‘My name’s Aron.’
They smile back. ‘I’m Megan,’ says the darker girl, ‘and this is Kristi.’
We shake hands and continue along the trail. As we go, we talk about our interests. We all love hiking, biking and adventures. For all of us, this is more important than earning a lot of money. They work in the same business, too. They work for Outward Bound, a sports equipment shop in Moab, Utah. Both Aspen and Moab are important tourist centres for hikers.
We are on the trail together for about five kilometres. At that point, there is a smaller canyon to the west. The west canyon goes back in a half-circle. The girls left their bikes at the end of it. We will say goodbye there and I’ll continue on alone to the Big Drop Rappel.
We arrive just before 2.00 pm. I don’t feel like saying goodbye. In the hour and a half we’ve been together, we’ve already become friends.
Megan feels the same. ‘Why don’t you come with us?’ she asks. ‘We can finish the west canyon trail, go back to our truck and have a few beers.’
I like the idea, but following my plan is more important. I ask them to come with me.
‘How far is it back to your truck?’ Megan asks.
‘Around thirteen kilometres.’
‘That’s too far. You won’t get back before dark,’ she says.
‘Maybe not, but I really want to do the Big Drop Rappel. And I can’t miss the paintings in the Great Gallery. I’ll meet you after for a drink.’
We agree on a plan to meet and go to the party together.
Then I turn and wave goodbye. The movement is so easy I don’t think about it. But there is something I don’t know. It is the last time I will wave goodbye with my right hand.