My blunt multi-tool knife etches into my motionless arm. Little by little, the knife gets deeper and deeper. Blood is trickling down my arm.
It was meant to be a walk in the park but it quickly turned into a nightmare. 127 hours stuck isolated in that canyon. That 800lb boulder waiting for me my whole life. I thought I could have made it, but the boulder just had to move.
A normal Saturday morning, like most weekends. I’d planned a journey that was five hours away. It was a beautiful morning; the sun started to rise to meet the morning’s dew. Starting to pack my bag, I made sure I had my essentials. Food; check. Plenty of water; check. I made my way to my car. Without telling anyone where I was going, I drove away. It became dark by the time I got to the remote part of Utah. I camped overnight in my car and had a good rest for my adventuring the next day.
I woke up as the sun gleamed down into the windows of my car. I got ready and set off. I rode my mountain bike to a tree with an unexpected fall on the way. Meeting two girls not knowing which way to go, I went to help them to find their surroundings. I showed them a natural underground pool which you could only get to with at thirty feet fall. I filmed every bit of that so I could remember it, bit by bit.
When it was time, we parted ways. I agreed to meet them at their place for a party the following day. I found a tunnel way to a big ravine.It was a big drop. There was a boulder sitting between the two sides of the canyon. I looked safe to stand on it, so I descended down to the bottom. I put my hand onto the boulder not knowing that it was just sitting that unbalanced. It dislodged and fell, and I went with it.
I suddenly appeared at the bottom of the canyon. It felt like I was knocked out or something like that. I tried to move over aside but my body wouldn’t let me. My right arm was trapped between the boulder and the edge of the canyon. I was stranded alone no one for miles. Blood was dripping down the side of the wall.
Anger rushed through me as I used my body weight in attempt to move the boulder, failing every time. Frustration flew through me. Chipping bit by bit at the rock, not knowing that it made the knife blunter each time I did it, I thought I would never be able to get out. Determined, I got all of my things out of my backpack to see my resources. I used my climbing rope in attempt to make a sling so I could sit on it, to hang.
Violently, I threw the rope up to wrap around the rock ahead. Eventually, I was able to sit down after many attempts.I was thinking about my younger years, with my dad and how I’d really missed him. I missed all my family, but it was only day one.
Pain ran through me that night as it was very hard to get to sleep as I had never been to sleep in such a weird position. But that morning, I got fifteen minutes of sunlight. It felt that was back at home. I loved the warmth of it for every second.
I was having a lot of thoughts that day, one of them being that I regretted not telling anyone where I was going. If I did then, someone would have gotten me by now. I was getting dehydrated, so I finished off my water as I needed it. I felt really ill and I wasn’t feeling right. I was fantasizing about the things I needed, like the Gatorade I had left in the car. I really needed that.
I decided to videotape myself for the people who – eventually – would find me. I made a diary everyday onwards. It wasn’t an ordinary diary. It was my diary, but on my video camera . Everyday, I woke up and recorded myself. I explained how I missed everyone and all the precious life experiences I was going to miss.
Trapped. Isolated. I saw an image through the crack of the canyon and I saw all my family. A little boy showed up with me besides him. It was only a vision but it meant a lot to me. It showed me I was able to find someone I loved if I got out…
It was the fifth day. I knew I couldn’t stay here any longer. Chipping bit by bit at the boulder furiously, I realised that the coarse rock was making my pocket-knife blunter by the minute.
I wasn’t sure what had gone through my mind at that point – maybe it was sheer desperation. And so I penetrated the knife into my arm and felt it stop when it met the bone.
There was blood all over the canyon and it started to drip down my arm each time I leaned over to hold my knife. I started to chip away the skin around the bone of my arm. A sudden shock came to me as I hit the nerve. My whole arm tensed up and I felt that I couldn’t ever be able to get out, but I had to get free from this ditch.
I intensely started to snap my arm. That’s the only chance I thought I had of getting out. I tried multiple times to break my arm by leaning from side to side. Over time, I got really tired, but I gave it one last swing. Anger travelled through me as I thought of what I would miss.
Snapping my arm wasn’t easy. Stabbing throughout those hours of anger I had, I finally was free. I wrapped up my arm in a makeshift sling and I packed my stuff. Getting out of that canyon was easy as I knew my way out, but it was the challenge of parasailing down the ravine that I had to deal with.
I didn’t realise that I wouldn’t have quite enough rope to get down. My feet were slipping on the soft rock on my way down. I used my one hand to grip onto the one foot hole of the rock which had chalk on it from the previous climbers. I used that to stabilize my weight throughout the journey.
When I got down, I ran as fast as I could to try to find a person who had a signal. A woman that was with a man and child ran to find more people who could help me.
All I could hear was the propellers of the air ambulance ahead of me, trying to land. I heard loud shouting; voices asking me who I was. That day I left home to go to Utah, that was the one day I made a horrible mistake by not telling anyone where I was going.
But since that day I have been much happier as I’ve met the love of my life. I haven’t allowed my one arm to stop me from letting me from doing the things I love. My wife has been there for me and I really cherish that.
This is why I appreciate every great view, as well as every bump in the road, as our lives’ journeys continue.