They call it "hiking" up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, Utah. It did seem like hiking. Well, the first two miles did. The path was wide and rocky with creepy tarantulas, but once we trekked up those two miles, everything changed. That's when I faced a rocky outcrop and a few inches of space to navigate around it to avoid a sheer drop. There was a chain embedded in the stone outcrop to help people inch my way to the other side.
I quickly realized if my fingers slipped from the steel embedded into the red rock, not a chance since I had a cadaver's grip on it, I would drop to my death. I guess it's the same with life--you're moving along at a brisk pace thinking you have everything under control and then the trail takes a dangerous turn and you find yourself plodding forward with the unmistakable knowledge that yes, you are going to die. And not in your sleep. You are going to plummet off the side of a mountain while your husband and son watch in disbelieving horror.
That's exactly what I thought would happen. But I didn't die. I made it around the outcrop and looked out over mountains stretching into the distance. I shared a smile with my husband and son and said,"Angel's Landing is beautiful." My husband laughed loudly, pointed up and up a huge mountain in the distance (Partial image below), and said, "No. This isn't Angel's Landing. That is."
|Thanks for image Natekat.com!|
My legs feeling wholly inadequate, I started across the rocky bridge that led to the ascent. I was so terrified that I alternatively cursed and called to God softly in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish with any sense of comprehension, but thanks to a bold and brash aunt and a devote mother, I can curse and pray in Spanish. At this point, my son saw my wobbly walk and started to worry for me. He began to hike to the side of me, on his tiptoes since space was limited, holding out his arms to catch me in case my legs gave way.
I was horrified.
I was horrified.
Now just so you don't think I'm talking about a ten year old here. Below is a picture of my very capable son at Angel's Landing. Well, capable of getting himself up the mountain. I knew if he kept doing what he was doing, when I slipped and fell off the mountain, yes I had accepted my inevitable death at this point, that he was going to die as well. I did what any mother would do to protect her child. I lied.
"I'm fine," I told my son, making a point to tell him he was disrupting my balance with his attempts to protect me. Then I ground my jaw to keep any more rogue Spanish from escaping my lips. My husband seemed to have had no doubt about my abilities. He led the way, looking back with a big, confident grin. Spanish curses would've come in handy for the feelings that went through me when I saw that stupid grin. Oh well, onward and upward. You know, until the drop. I continued up the mountain, crouched low the whole way, like it would hurt less if I was crouched rather than standing up when I fell 1200 feet off a mountain. I had to convince myself to keep going many times, and nearly doubled back when passing the yellow plastic warning tape that looked remarkably like police caution tape. (I later found out a person had slipped off at that exact spot two weeks before.)
|Alive at the top!|
As I continued down the path--which seemed infinitely less terrifying--I heard my husband remark on the gentleman that had just passed. He said cheerfully, "That's the cutest thing I've ever heard a man say." I couldn't help but laugh as I decided to forgive my husband for his flagrant confidence and lack of understanding when it came to us pragmatic, barely bilingual cowards. He had, after all, escaped near death with me. Even if he didn't realize it.