I know I love to joke and be dramatic over things all the time. Truly everything I do, I do in good spirits and have a great cherub like demeanor about me. I joke about how hard stuff is, or being put into precarious situations, but truth is that I love that. I love a challenge and love adventure. I rarely will say no to anything. This Memorial Day however I had a day that truly tested what I was made of. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done physically.
Like so many Americans I often spend my Memorial Day weekend outdoors and camping. This Memorial Day weekend was to be action packed. Biking, running, camping, boating and hiking. A group of friends and myself headed down to southern Utah to camp and do some canyoneering in what is called Leprechaun Canyon. It’s 3 miles of what is called a slot canyon. Or in basic terms an extremely narrow canyon in sandstone carved out by water. Sort of similar to the movie 127 hours.
I have hiked dozen of slot canyons in my life and absolutely loved every experience. I have had to swim through pools of water with dead animals in them, rappel down 300 foot cliffs, and climb up similar size cliffs. I have loved it all, today however would be a love hate relationship with these canyons, one where I had to prove to myself that I am much stronger than I believe.
It started off all fun, hiking up slick rock to get to the top of the canyon to rappel down in and head 3 miles to where the canyon opens up wide enough where a plant could grow. It was along this walk up that someone mentioned that the canyon narrows down to 15 inches. That is right inches. But I would soon find out that it was 10. Enter a little panic as I am no dainty thing.
The fun has begun. We rappelled down into the canyon to begin what was going to be so much fun and an absolute amazing day! All smiles and happiness at this point!
The canyon beganto get tighter and tighter. It became what is known as a Mae West slot canyon. Where the canyon is too narrow for a foot to be able to fit at the bottom and you must use your upper body to be able to move yourself through as you lift yourself up and over. This was the area that was so super tight. I began to panic and cry as I was truly worried that I would get stuck. However with help of some amazing friends they coaxed me and helped lift me through this tough spot. We came to opening after this incredibly tight spot and I sat on top of a boulder wedged into the canyon crying. Saying I couldn’t go on. I couldn’t go back up because of the steep drop offs we had rappelled down. I sat there for a half hour saying I was done and they could send a helicopter because I had come to find out the tightest was yet to come. My friends were incredibly supportive. I have to admit I had a full blown panic attack, but with the help of my friends and encouragement I continued on. I never thought tight spaces bothered me. But when I had to spend 15 minutes of squeezing to move 20 feet, I was scared.
I can’t even begin to describe how tight this canyon was. But I fought through it. Used all my strength to push through and never gave up. It took us 6.5 hours to go 3 miles if that gives you an idea of how slow going it is.
There were times you had to lay flat with head turned and army crawl to fit under a boulder because the boulders blocking a pathway to go up and over were impassable. This was one of those times I was preparing for that.
We finally made it to the point where the canyon opened back up near the car. Tears of joy my friend. I wanted to give up so many times. I was emotionally drained and physically exhausted. But with friends and truly my inner strength I conquered something. I have never truly been faced with quitting something like this before, but I didn’t, and after that I knew that anything was possible.
Back at the car and so glad that I wasn’t still waiting up in that canyon for some kind of help to arrive! Just an amazing time! I have to admit looking back I loved it and would do something like that again. I know that I have what it takes inside me to do it. Only when we go through something so hard do we really realize what we have in us. I have a lot of inner strength I found out that day. It was so much as life is. You see an obstacle too hard to go through. It looks impossible, you want to quit and give up. Only after going through that obstacle and looking back on it do you really appreciate all life is, and how powerful the human spirit can be.