The Rock

by Katie on November 17, 2010

Not the dude from the WWE. Or the monster bull elk Brandon chased after two months ago.

This Rock:

The Rock

This rock was where I spent a majority of my morning on Day Three of our hunt. Even though I was supposed to spend it on the rock right below where Brandon was sitting here:

In case you’re wondering, yes, that rock drops clear off in the back too:

At the time, I just couldn’t back up far enough to capture the whole thing in the camera frame. Why? Because I was perched on a similar rock. And that’s what this is all about.

We made a similar journey last year, just not to the exact same vantage point, and Brandon looked down and found tears running down my face as I tried to reach the summit. This year included the same amount of fear, but a lot more patience from Brandon, and no tears.

Anyway, when we got to the base of these boulders, I waited there while Mountain Goat Brandon climbed around and determined the best/safest/least scary passage for me to take. He eventually returned and instructed me to climb on my belly up the face of a flat, angled-vertically rock. It took a while, and a few moments of deep breaths to keep the tears from flowing, but I made it. When I reached the top of that particular terror-filled climb, he said, “Now, just one more spot.”

And I immediately felt relieved. I could so do one more spot. The only problem with the next spot was that he often forgets my limbs are a little shorter than his, so the one (Yes. One.) foothold I was supposed to use to push myself up a seriously vertical rock wasn’t really working out. I ended up being at his mercy as he pulled me up by the wrist until I could successfully wriggle the rest of my body over the ledge.

Just when I’m getting the last foot over the threshold, and feeling a big surge of victory, because this was supposed to be the “last bad spot,” I look up to watch him leap, and I mean leap, a good six feet over to another set of rocks, over what was at least a 20 foot vertical drop. Or, in my world, certain death.

How he thought this was not “a bad spot” I do not know. It may have been the worst spot.

“I don’t think so, Brandon Leister. No way. Nah-uh. Not for a million bucks.”

“What?” He asked, like he hadn’t just defied gravity or something. “Oh, that? That’s nothing. You jump over ditches all the time. You’ll be fine.”

I shuffled my feet over to the ledge, keeping them pressed hard against the solid ground beneath me. One glance below was all it took. “Nope, not doing it. I don’t think so. Ditches aren’t 20 feet deep.”

He tried several other rounds of persuasion, none of which came close. He said something about how he had already made the jump three times (to take both our packs across, then to get me), to which I responded that likely meant our combined luck was due to run out.

Then I remembered that even after all that climbing, I still had a burrito in my pocket, since I had pulled it from my pack right before we decided to head up the rocks. So I told him, “I’m just going to sit here for a while, eat my burrito, and think about it.”

So I did. Eat my burrito, anyway. There wasn’t much thinking about jumping that actually went on.

Oh, and I mentioned he had already taken my pack across, right? Which meant I was left there with nothing but my burrito. No tripod. No binoculars. Nothing. I had a decent view of a water tank, but that doesn’t do you much good at 8am.

After a loud sigh, or maybe a whimper, I’m not sure which, Brandon responded with, “Are you ready yet?”

“No, not yet. I just want my binoculars.”

“Oh yeah? There they are…” and he points down to my pack, a mere 20 feet away.

So, there I sat. With my bottom firmly pressed to the rock beneath me, and my back flush with the rock behind me. Every five minutes or so, the jump would begin to look less terrifying, and I would convince myself I could do it.

Then I would stand up. And before I even reached the edge, my legs would begin to shake and my burrito would reach the back of my throat. I would hit the deck, and scoot back until I could feel the rock behind me.

After repeating this pattern for what I bet was every bit of half an hour, I finally explained my dilemma to Brandon:

“I want to jump on that rock, I really do. It’s just that I also want to do things like turn 30, make babies and grow old with you. And I think me leaping onto that rock puts all those things in jeopardy.”

To which he laughed. Laughed. At all those good reasons I listed.

After a solid hour of me sitting there on The Rock, not hunting, I guess he realized that I really wasn’t going to jump. He finally came back across, found some footing that was only seven feet below me, and let me climb onto his back (while I shouted something like, “Now you’re going to make me kill us both!”) and eventually, I made it across to my seat for the day.

He made sure to find a different way down. And we made it back still married and very much alive. Which was nice.


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