When a park's name is Death Valley, I'm extra careful.
However it doesn't matter how safety conscious a hiker is; sometimes Mother Nature can turn bitch. Like the time I was exploring here in February, 2016. Who knew the rock I was standing on would slide? Why wasn't there a warning sign?
Because it's a wild place and that's the way it's meant to be.
A typical day for me is to inhale two pots of coffee, washed down by breakfast and head out. I'm not really sure where I'll end up. Oftentimes, I get side tracked. No one knows where I am.
A lot of the times, I'm unsure of where I am too! I think a lot about Aron Ralston. He's the dude who amputated his caught between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place arm in a Utahan slot canyon. No one knew where he was either. In fact, no one noticed he was gone.
People are BUSY. They don't have the time or energy to ponder about other humans precise locations. My black comedy joke with my family is, "if you don't hear from me in a few years, read my last blog. At least you will have an idea on where to start searching for my bleached bones."
I don't wish to ever write a blog or book about limping out of a scary situation. Doh! I've already did that!
Now I have a gimpy left knee. It's better than what the final alternative could have been.
I'm running out of my Nine Lives.
With all these morbid thoughts in my brain, I don't take unnecessary chances. When I see a rough route in an unnamed side canyon, I'll look at it from below. Is it worth the risk to see where it might lead? The answer is "No!" If I got into trouble there, Search and Rescue would never find me. Unlike Mr. Ralston, I don't carry a Swiss Army Knife in case I needed to perform an emergency surgery.
My point to all this? There are risks in everything we do. Try to hedge your bets to see another day. Injury or Death can really screw up your future plans.
I'll paraphrase World Class mountaineer Ed Viesturs, "Getting to my destination is optional. Returning back to Barley the Van is mandatory."
Speaking about Survivors! Check out this male Wood Duck doing laps at the Stovepipe Wells pool. A wetlands duck in a vast desert? Talk about misreading your map.
Be safe out there,