Wednesday, June 20, 2007

danger on the rock

She was one of 7 children. Even bedtimes had been noisy. As she got older she attended a univeristy and immediately joined a very active very social sorority. After graduation she had landed a fabulous position with a multimillion dollar PR firm in Los Angeles. There had never been a moment of quiet in all her life.

It wasn't until she had reached the ripe old age of 25 that she realized the lack of silence in her life and began to seek it out. Of course never one to do things half way or in a mild form she set out on the hunt for quiet in extreme sports. She had attempted everything for skydiving to scuba diving and so many things in between it would take to long to enumerate them. But she had finally found what she was looking for in rockclimbing. She loved the thrill of it. Although she hadn't been quite sure at first.

One night after class she had had dinner with her rock climbing instructor who had sardonically referred to those who came and climbed the same paths week after week as the regular faithfuls. He had told her about solo climbing and she had been intrigued.

They had gone climbing together a few times after that so he could show her the different types. There was roped soloing which at least gave you a sense of security. There was deep water soloing. She loved the ocean breeze and the salted wet air as she scaled the cliffs over the water. Finally there was free soloing. This was what she had been looking for all along. The quiet intenseness she loved it and had begun to look for more and more challenging places to climb alone.

Which, of course, is how she had ended up here dangling 150 feet above nothing but rocks and dirt and holding on for dear life by three fingers. She had leapt to this location because she was certain of the hand hold but there was only the one and nothing more, and she really didn't see anyplace else to put her hands or feet. Approximately 20 feet above her protruded a ledge about 15-20 inches deep which at this point was blocking the top of the rock and the sun for that matter from view.

She readjusted and pressed her body closer to the rock trying to get a better hold with her fingers. She considered how much different her day would have been if she'd stuck with the regular faithfuls but no she'd had too much spunk not be drawn away by a desire for something of greater intensity.

She looked around and saw the possibility of another place a little further to her left. She stretched and reached and let go all at once. There was a sliding and for a half a second she longed for Tom Cruise's stunt double to come and take her place but then she reached her spot and settled in again.

She continued this way for about 20 minutes more making her way further and further until suddenly her only option was a ledge about 15 feet below her. She tried to study it from where she was at and she could see the opening of a small cave. This was mountain lion country and she wished she knew if she was going to be lunching with one shortly or not. When you scuba dive if you enter a cave and there's a lobster in it the way they hold their antennas will signal whether or not there is anything else in the cave. She was doubting that there would be a lobster here to help her out but it certainly would have been nice. She began to slide and drop to the ledge in what she attempted to be the quietest manner but of course everything echoed and reverberated around her. She was certain that even if there was a dead mountain lion in the cave she would have awakened him.

She waited hugging the wall and peering into the cave as best she could. She heard nothing, saw nothing but continued to wait. Barely breathing, she waited. She thought she had escapted danger when suddenly she realized that there was not one, or even two, but three pairs of eyes looking at her from the cave. They were low to the ground and she realized that she was in fact looking at an even greater danger than she had suspected. For staring at her from the depths of the cave was not the mountain lion herself, but rather her babies. Which meant that at any moment mama lion would be returning and would not appreciate an intruder.

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