Listen up, fellas:
When your wife is utterly terrified that she, you, or some other member of your entourage is about to stumble off the edge of a timeless void into the vastitudes of an unknown canyon thousands of feet deep, throw her a bone and call a halt to the proceedings. Believe me- she’ll thank you for it later; and if she doesn’t… well you were gonna find out sooner or later one way or the other.
So we turned around and headed back to the Hermit Trail to reassess. It was just too hairy on the Dripping Springs Trail. If there’s even one member of your crew who doesn’t feel confident enough to proceed, you need to heed that voice (weakest link and all that), and either bring them around gently or yield to their concerns; but you can’t just keep dragging them along the brink all day long- especially when you know the shit is only gonna get sketchier with the miles. It isn’t right, or advisable; and anyway you won’t make any kind of decent progress that way. Besides, feeling like you’re about to trip and plunge off a cliff skyrockets the odds of it actually happening. Plus, it’s not as if the fear was irrational or unjustified- there really was a gaping maw of an abyss right there next to us. You could practically extend your arm outward and have the palm of your hand staring straight down to the dry rocky parched stream-bed thousands of feet below.
Back at the Hermit Trail, we found a square foot of shade to huddle the team under for a few minutes, then had a sustenance power-up session starring cheese, nuts, and baby oranges (what do you call those things again?). After due consideration of the available avenues, we decided to continue down the Hermit Trail into Hermit Canyon and on to Hermit Rapids, rather than turn around and climb back out of the big pit as lame-ass failures. Plus, this was Bud’s 60th birthday dream trip, and one which would probably never happen if it didn’t happen now. So there was that incentive on top of everything else. And anyway, it helped that I myself had been down the Hermit Trail before, and was able to vouch for it as a far-less-perilous route than what I had seen of the Dripping Springs Trail in the preceding hour. (though, to be fair, the Hermit Trail was still completely perilous, fraught with an uncountable number of unfathomably-precipitous drop-offs into the great never, just on a somewhat slightly lesser scale than the other trail. I mean, that’s what the Grand Canyon is. If you can’t deal with that, then maybe you should go check out the Everglades, or the Cape Cod National Seashore)
Scruffy Says: Stop, Drop and Run
Though it took us a good six hours to cover the remaining six miles down to Hermit Creek, the descent was for the most part uneventful. At one point Robin started having the beginnings of a bug-out, because somehow her fold-up backpacking chair, which had been strapped to the outside of her pack, had vanished somewhere along the trail; but I was determined to snuff that shit out before it could really take flame. Since I clearly remembered seeing the chair on her pack no more than a mile back, I deemed it worth the effort in the name of team morale; and so I dropped my pack and ran back along the trail until I found the chair, a blue square laying there pathetically in the middle of the trail, with a black square mesh pocket smiling off the back of it. I picked up the chair and ran back. It felt great to proceed through this terrain without the burden of a loaded backpack, even if it was only for twenty minutes. Returning to the team, assembled at Lookout Point and stalling, delaying the inevitable as long as they might, I re-fastened Robin’s chair to her backpack, and we were off again.
(to be continued)
Previous chapter: (04)
Next chapter: (06)