It was a sunny Sunday morning; the spring breeze was evident all around, the kind that says summer in on the way. My best friend called and offered to take me rock climbing up at Indian Hills, I was thrilled but timid. Waiting with anticipation I could hear the sound of his car coming, it was distinct in its own way because the muffler was on its last leg. He arrived in style, no not really.
The paint of his car was peeling off and the smell of the exhaust filled the air with a horrible aroma. Every time I got in his car I felt embarrassed, but it was all right because he was the only one who could drive. As we started up the 225 Highway we were following traffic along the twisting, turning road. Suddenly my best friend cursed under his breath. I looked at him surprisingly and asked, “What’s wrong?” He started to laugh, took his foot off the accelerator, hit the brakes, and said “Didn’t you see that state trooper?” I nodded, “Well we were going 85 up this road,” he said.
Luckily we were not the only cars on the road. About a mile from the turn off we slowed down to 55 miles an hour. When we pulled off the side of the road, we were both surprised to find that there were no other cars parked there. Normally this turn off was packed with cars, with people climbing in the Indian Hills. Although we were both happy that there was no one else around to interfere, there was a lingering feeling of dread.
If something were to go wrong there wouldn’t be anybody else around to help. We both got out of the car and decided to go on against our better judgment. The trail up was steep; about two feet wide surrounded, with scrub brush. On the way up I was thinking both about how bad my legs were getting cut from the brush, and about not slipping on the sandy trail.
The half-mile long hike was nothing but a warm up for my best friend and I, who are avid backpackers and trail hikers. We reached the top and headed to the intermediate climbs off to the left. My best friend is an experienced rock climber so this was nothing to him. However it didn’t look too intermediate to me. Mount Everest came to mind! I walked over and stood underneath the rock formations. I felt so little like a two-story building surrounded by skyscrapers.
The incredible height was nothing in comparison to the thought of falling onto the jagged rocks that surrounded the base of the formation. Due to Mark’s experience, I volunteered him to go up first, so I could watch and get a better feel for the grip locations. Mark reached the top with ease and as he pulled himself up over the edge he looked down and yelled “Your turn. ” I approached the wall with anxiety; my right leg was shaking like it had its own mind.
As I started to climb I thought to myself, wouldn’t this be much safer if I had a rope of some kind. About ten feet off the ground I looked down which was the first mistake I made. At that point I knew that there was no turning back and the only way I was going to get off this rock was to go up. With great determination I got about ? of the way up when I heard Mark yelling, “You are taking the wrong path!” I pressed myself against the wall so I could relax my arms; I could feel the rough surface of the rock against my face. The perspiration on my hands made the rock seem very slippery. Mark laid down on the granite slab and stuck his head over the side.
With his guidance I started climbing again. As I approached the top I found myself with no where else to go. I couldn’t see the last grip, I asked Mark, “Where’s the last hold?” He pointed to a spot just above me and said, “You’ll have to jump for it. ” Jump! ? I am not going to jump, are you crazy!? I screamed. Realizing that jumping was the only way to get off this cliff, I knew what I had to do. Mark put his hand at the point I had to jump to and said with great encouragement, ?You can make it!? I nodded, then relaxed my arms and legs took in a deep breath and jumped out off the wall and up at the same time.
I grabbed the grip but only felt loose rock in my hand instead. I shouted “FALLING!? which is what he told me to say in case I ever fell. All the sudden I felt a single hand grab my wrist. I grabbed back and with locked wrists I was dangling high above the ground.
I started searching for somewhere to place my foot. I could hear my best friend yelling, “Find a damn hold Greg. ” Luckily I found a crack and crammed my foot into it. I placed my free hand on the wall and pulled myself up with our wrists locked tight. Pulling me to my feet Mark placed his hands on my shoulders and in a low voice said “You OK man?” This was the first time he had seen anybody start to fall since he started climbing.
I looked into his eyes and could see a sense of fear but at the same time relief. It must have been the adrenaline pumping; I probably looked the same. “Yeah? I think so. ” The time passed, and before we knew it, it was starting to get dark.
On the way back down the hill we decided to follow another trail. We were looking for a shorter and easier way. About half way down the hill we both realized we were lost, it had seemed that we were going in the wrong direction. By this time it was almost pitch dark. Concentrating on ground beneath my feet, it became somewhat of a blur to me. I started crying with out warning.
I guess it was a delayed shock that had finally hit me. With great emotion I knew that I had to compose myself before Mark saw me crying. I thought to myself, ?Thank god Mark was in the right place at the right time. ? I could have either been seriously injured and even worse dead.
As we kept walking we could hear cars in the faint background and see headlights. We headed toward the sound and used the lights for visual guidance. Finally we reached the highway only to realize we were about a ? of a mile from the car. We were lucky it wasn’t a longer walk. On the way home, after a long silence mark said, ?We shouldn’t tell our parents, especially your mom, because you know how protective she is.
?From that day on realization washed over me and I decided that it would be better if my feet remain on the ground. I also realized that friends are always there when you need them, especially best friends.