By Aron Ralston
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After what I’ll have completed—an all-day adventure tour, fifteen miles of mountain biking and fifteen miles of canyoneering—I’ll have earned a little relaxation and hopefully a cold beer. It will be good to see these two lovely ladies of the desert again so soon, too. We seal the deal by adding a short hike of Little Wild Horse Canyon, a nontechnical slot in Goblin Valley, to the plan for tomorrow morning. M. with smiles and waves. Alone once again, I walk downcanyon, continuing on my itinerary.
My headphones have gotten knocked off my ears, but now, and in my calm, I hear the crowd on the live CD cheering. The noise evaporates as the disc winds to a stop, and the sudden silence reinforces my situation. I am irreversibly trapped, standing in the dimly lit bottom of a canyon, unable to move more than a few inches up or down or side to side. Compounding my physical circumstances, no one who will suspect I am missing knows where I am. I violated the prime directive of wilderness travel in failing to leave a detailed trip plan with a responsible person.
Unfortunately, as soon as I recognize that I’m having such a moment, the feeling ebbs, thoughts return, the transcendence evaporates. I work hard to set myself up for that fleeting sense of being wholly pleased, but my judgments about the feeling displace the feeling itself. Although it’s ephemeral, the general well-being that accompanies such a moment will boost my temperament for hours or even days. , and in the balance of sunshine and thin stratus layers, the day’s weather is poised at equilibrium.