So Erik… what’s with all the ropes and stuff?
Just a little preview really quick–Portia went rappelling the other day! And we’re going to go do a canyon together this weekend. I am very excited, and it got me thinking about why I enjoy canyoneering so much… so I wrote a little bit about it.
Many people think canyoneering is just one of those things people do to feel hard-core. Although that may be true in a few cases, it is not often true for me.
I remember one of the first slot canyons I ever hiked through. I don’t remember its name, but I remember my mom and dad took my sister and I camping, and we spent a day exploring a deep, narrow slot canyon. The slot was full of winding paths, and rock walls that went up so high they made me feel much less significant than I had previously felt.
My parents and sister were taking their time, and I was so excited to see what was ahead, I started running. I zig-zagged as fast as I could. I hopped over small boulders. I scrambled across logs. My hands slid along the rough stone walls as I tried to keep myself from tipping side-to-side.
At every bend I was thrilled to find a completely unique swirl in the sandstone formation ahead. Every step carried me deeper into the slot, making me more courageous and tough…
And then I remember that I was only about 8 years old. Suddenly I was lonely. Every step ahead had taken me farther from people I loved. Every step away from them made me feel more lonely. I stopped. The canyon was perfectly still, no sounds ahead or behind me.
I waited. Alone. I loved the peace and quiet, but I was alone. I began to walk back down canyon toward my family. Nothing.
My pace increased to a quick walk, then to a jog, and soon to a frantic run. The peace and serenity I found in the canyon by myself was not as fulfilling for me as when I had someone to share it with.
Finally around the bend I skidded to a stop in front of my family. I’m sure my mom and dad had to work hard not to laugh at me. I was bruised, scraped, and out of breath. As soon as I realized I wasn’t lost, and they weren’t lost, everything was great. I don’t remember, but I probably covered up by smiling and asking them what had taken them so long.
As I have changed and grown up (not very quickly, I’ve definitely fought against growing-up) canyons have stayed the same. In slot canyons, and on mountain tops, I find peace and quiet, and I often find my closest friends and family there with me.
Yes, I do feel hard-core when I’m rappelling through a 100 foot waterfall. But the ropes, harnesses, carabiners, and rap rings are all a means to an end. The ropes take me to places that help me recharge and heal. They bring me closer to my true self, and closer to the people I love most.
When I find a secluded and peaceful place, the distractions and problems in the world fall away and I remember who I am. I remember who other people are. I can let the world be for just a little bit.