They Saved My Life

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The cars were loaded. 

Our supplies was secured, the food was stored, and our equipment was packed.

The 24 of us college buddies climbed into the awaiting vans and started off on our 8 hour road trip to southern Utah for a weekend of canyoneering, rock climbing, camping, and spelunking.  After a night of roasting marshmallows and sleeping out under the stars, we took off the next morning, headed for a nearby canyon trail.

Our ascend up the mountain side was rigorous and required wading through stone troughs of flash flood run-off, army-crawling under rocky overhangs, and hoisting each other up over massive boulder formations.

By the time we'd reached the top, we were tired, but having the time of our lives!

We began our descent and soon reached a large boulder in the middle of our path. Since the trail was extremely narrow and walls of red rock towered on each side, the only way to go......was forward.

We clambered on top of the boulder, only to realize that the trail did continue on.......only it was 40 feet below us, with the jagged walls of stone on either side narrowing down into a 4 foot-wide mirky trough of reddish brown water.

Falling basically meant dying.

Our guide instructed us on how we'd descend down the crevice: we'd use a technique called chimneying, with our backs against one wall of rock, and our feet against the other. Using the divide of pressure, we'd shuffle down the two walls, descending slightly with each move.

And we'd do it with NO ropes, no harnesses, no anchors……. nothing.

A bit nervous, but not being one to back down, I swung my cinch sack onto my chest, and positioned myself against the two walls, following the rest of the group.

As I was about a third of the way down, I went to shuffle downwards, and felt the wall behind me carve father in than I'd expected.

I lost tension and felt my heart flop in my chest.

Panicked, I tried to return to my previous position, only to realize that the lip of the rocky indent was deeper than I thought, and posed an impossible maneuver to get out of. I looked ahead and my heart began pounding as I realized that the wall only carved in deeper and deeper the farther it went.

As the shortest member of the group, I was the only one who'd encountered this dilemma, and I realized I didn't have the height--and therefore, the tension--to continue on.......or to go back.

My heart began racing as I felt my feet losing grip.

My legs and arms began shaking with the muscle strain as the thought flashed through my mind,

"Anna, you're about to drop 40 feet to your death......"

The next thing I remember was Hunter, one of my friends who'd already successfully descended to the bottom, shouting to me,

 "Anna! BREATHE!  You need to breathe!!!!"

Without realizing it, I'd started hyperventilating, and was losing oxygen to my head and muscles quickly.

When he'd realized my predicament, Hunter had rushed through the freezing waist-deep water till he was directly under me. He kept calling to me,

"Anna! You're going to be fine....breathe! Just keep breathing! Hold on, you're going to be ok! We're gonna help you! Listen to me, listen to me......just hang in there....."

Meanwhile, Spencer, another of my friends, who was still at the top, could see that I was in danger, and could also see the whole span of the rock wall I was wedged between. I don't know how he did it, but he somehow managed to scale the wall and was at my side fast enough, just before my legs gave out. 

He put his arm behind my shoulders which created enough tension for my feet to find grip again and then told me the only  way I could get out of the crevice was to shuffle---not across--but directly down.

At first, that thought terrified me. But with his help and side-by-side coaching, I was able to descend little by little until we reached the water 40 feet below.

From Spencer's perspective atop the boulder, he was able to assess the situation and knew that the only way I'd get out of there alive, was to go down. Therefore, when he came to my aid, was able to guide me to safety.

When I reached the bottom, I nearly collapsed in the water. Hunter wrapped his arms around me and helped me wade through the trough till we reached dry ground.

Sitting there, my heart still racing and my body wet and shaking all over, I was overcome with appreciation for two friends who came to my rescue when I was sure I was about to die.

One had been there before, knew the terrain, and knew that I needed help. The other could see from above what I couldn't see from my perspective and in my state of mind. I needed both of them. They came, and they saved me.

Our guide later told me he'd never been more afraid for the life of one of his teammates before, and that it was inspiring to see two others come to the rescue when I was in peril. When I couldn't help myself, they were there, and with their help, I survived.

I learned a powerful lesson that day about the importance of good friends.......friends that would do all they could to save and protect me if they saw me in danger--whether that be physical, spiritual, or emotional danger.

Choose good friends. And be a good friend.

Choose those who you know will have your back (perhaps literally:) no matter what. Choose those who will influence you for good, who have a correct perspective and who can guide you along to safety. Choose those who stand up for what's right, and who encourage you to do the same.

Be the kind of friend that will be there for others when they need you. Be strong, helpful, and supportive. Be loyal and look out for others' well-being. And be willing to love, guide, and encourage others to make good decisions.

That day in the canyon--being that close to dying or being seriously injured--I learned the importance of good friends: 

They saved my life.

Going up the canyon

Starting our decent 


at the very bottom of the crevice.......
(sorry....i was a bit preoccupied at the top and didn't get a picture:P)

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