Saturday, February 13, 2010
My memoirs are not published. There are no archives, no journals, no pages that are filled with life changing memories. Most remain on a ledge in my mind. Some have dangled and fallen, as if they were never there in the first place. Others, I wished were heaved off into the darkness, but they sit safely waiting to haunt. The remaining, have been saved, waiting to be remembered or penned.
Here’s one that comes to mind.
I awoke to a clear day, a blue sky and a “up and at it” attitude, encouraged over the years by my dad. I had a craving to be outside. I adore the mountains. There’s plenty of ground to cover or get lost in. Much to encounter. I interrupted my craving to call on a friend.
Aaron is my go to friend. I my mind, he is much wiser then I. I thought at seventeen, his experience seemed to over shadow mine even though we were only three years apart. I trusted his judgment. He was the one that keep us out of trouble, most of the time. We only got into real mischief but once, to the tune of a fifty dollar citation from a State Park Rangers.
We met at his house and put a few things together. Our past ventures lacked a few utensils, so to maximize our trip, we gathered a few things; we clipped flashlights onto our belts, concealed pocket knives and grabbed snacks to build energy for this occasion.
We drove as close to Ensign Peak as we could, then walked to the base.
Ensign Peak is well known memorial of Brigham Young and the Mormon Pioneers stating that "This is the place". Marked with a flag pole, a plaque and plenty of empty beer bottles. The peek has been discovered and rediscovered by everyone and their dog.
Before the hike began the decision was made to hike the utility road around the peak. We thought it lead to radio towers at the top of the mountain. We had never seen the towers up close, just short of glimpses from way below in the valley. That direction seemed a good place to start, with a hope of some kind of wow experience along the way.
The exploration started out casual. Each step had its purpose. Each scene was taken in, not to be stolen by out of shape bodies, but to be gratified during each second that clicked by.
The road was getting nauseating. We needed something to keep us focused; we needed some excitement.
We looked up on the side of the mountain, together we saw a large hole. No a cave. We looked at each other like it was calling us; we answered it on the first ring.
How I got to the opening of the cave, so fast I can’t remember, just that Arron and I arrived at the same time.
We peek inside.
The sun’s light shined in about four feet. Darkness filled the rest of the cave as if it were a barrier warning us not to enter.
“Let’s go in!”were my words. Even with all his wisdom Arron surprised me, “you first.”
I couldn’t release my flashlight fast enough.
“Do you think there's animals in there?” I said retreating slightly. I seconded guessed myself, “No way, it’s too close to the utility road. There would be too much activity for animals to live in here.”
I pushed the button on the flashlight, it went on. It went off. I tapped it and it went back on.
The opening was less than four feet tall; the sides were as narrow as three feet wide. Crawling was the only way to enter. I knelt down and anxiously crawled in. Arron followed with no sound. The cave expanded slightly the further we went in.
The beam from my light couldn’t reach the back of the cave.
My mind was racing trying to take it all in.
The air was dank, with some kind of odor. I couldn’t quite grasp it even though I had smelled it before. We saw, what seemed to me, small rocks that lined the outside edge of the cave. I touched one. It was not a rock. I knew were the now familiar odor was coming from.
Thirty feet into it, I finely saw the end of the cave. Off to the right was another wall of darkness. I hoped it didn't turn sharply to the right. It did.
Some instinct caused my hand to reach out with the light and shine it around the corner. My vision followed the light. I looked around the corner. I saw six red eyes.
With a slight hesitation I warned, “There’s animals in here”. I peeked around the corner again. "Yes animals". My light couldn’t reach them to see what kind of varmints they were but there eye shine was startling.
I heard movement behind me. I turned and Aaron had jerked around and made it half way out of the cave before I could even register that we might be in danger. I twisted around and crawled as fast as I could.
I felt, whatever they were at my feet. Snapping, gnawing, and scratching as if it wanted to punish me for entering into their home.
I reached the end. I rolled out of the den. No animals. I didn’t realize I had such an imagination.
I got to my feet and looked for Arron. With heavy breathing he had perched himself upon a rock. We made eye contacted and burst out into laughter.
After a few minutes we continued our hike. Even though the rest of the trip was uneventful, we would remember our emotions and laugh. We shared with each other how we felt and what was going through our minds in the darkness. We had shared a death defying experience. Okay, it may not have seemed to be close to death to you, but for me and Arron, it was close. It was life changing, friendship building for sure.
Now I’m forty two years old, I still think about it and I still laugh.
Just recently Aaron told me he had shared this experience with his kids. I have shared it with mine.
This is a memory that will frequently be revisited.