127 Hours By Aron Ralston - chapter 2
The girls disappear into the west canyon. I am alone again. I continue walking towards the Big Drop Rappel. It seems strangely quiet without Kristi and Megan. I turn on my CD player and listen to a soft, slow song by Phish, one of my favourite bands.
The music is perfect for the way I feel: lucky, free and happy. The weather is perfect, too. It’s warm and sunny with just a few white clouds in the sky.
Suddenly, my feet hit a pile of loose stones and I nearly fall to the ground.
I listen to the voice in my head and look up the canyon. I can see that the trail ahead becomes more difficult. The Big Drop Rappel is now just under a kilometre away.
Twenty minutes later, I arrive at the most difficult part of the trail. Here, the canyon walls are a lot narrower. The trail rises and falls and is full of sharp rocks. I will have to be careful. I look up and see part of a tree stuck between the canyon walls. It was carried along the canyon after heavy rain. This is one of the dangers of hiking in canyon country. After a sudden storm, canyons can quickly fill with water. In seconds, the water can throw you against the canyon walls and kill you. That’s why it’s always very important to check the weather before canyoning.
Just below the tree is the first drop in the trail. It’s only about three metres, so I won’t need any equipment. There are plenty of holes in the rock for my hands and feet so I climb down easily. A metre from the bottom I let go and land on the ground. Soft sand covers the tops of my boots. From here, it would be difficult to climb back up. One thing is immediately clear: I can’t go back.
The canyon walls become even narrower. Stuck between them, as far as I can see, are boulders of different sizes. It’s an unusual sight. I stop and take a few pictures with my camera.
The Big Drop Rappel is now only about 160 metres away. Climbing down will be no problem. I have all the equipment I need in my backpack. For food, I have two burritos. I also have a full water bottle and an extra two litres in a CamelBak.
The boulders are both good and bad news. The good news is that I should be able to climb over many of them. This will be quicker than dropping on to the trail and climbing back up again. The bad news is that the boulders could move. I will have to be careful.
I manage the first few boulders without any problems and reach another drop. This one is about four metres down. About three metres from the edge of the drop is a boulder. It’s about the same size as the wheel of a bus. If I climb onto it, the drop from there will be shorter. I chimney to the boulder quite easily.
As I stand on it, I feel something move. The movement stops almost immediately. It seems there’s nothing to worry about. I lie down, put my hands in two holes on the far edge of the boulder and push my legs over the opposite side to jump down.
As most of my weight pushes on one side of the boulder, it makes a strange sound. Immediately I know this is trouble but it’s too late to go back. From this point, everything seems to happen very slowly. I let go of the boulder and drop towards the ground. As I fall, I look up and see the boulder crashing towards my head. If I don’t get out of the way, I’m dead. I try to push against the boulder with both hands. It hits my left hand hard against the canyon wall. I pull it back with a scream of pain. The boulder then hits my right arm and traps my hand against the right side of the canyon.
2.45 pm All this happens in a couple of seconds. I don’t even notice landing on the canyon floor. I am so shocked I feel no pain. I just stand there, looking at my trapped hand in disbelief.
Stupid, Aron, stupid! When you first stood on the rock, it moved. That was a clear message to stay away! But you were in such a hurry to finish the hike you didn’t stop and check.
The voice in my head doesn’t help. It just makes things worse.
A terrible pain travels up my arm. I scream and pull hard to try and free myself. Nothing happens. I try again. This time I push against the boulder with my knees at the same time.
It’s no good. The boulder is a lot heavier than I am.
I am stuck and there’s no way out.