This story was based on a prompt that my friend Summer gave me. I was a bit surprised where the story went. I hope you enjoy. The prompt was the photo at the end.
I was hiking down the Sun Road, just past the East tunnel. It was a breathtaking day and I was 5 miles into a 12 mile hike to the peak. The peak settled at just over 12,000 feet. I was going up 6,000 feet of altitude today and so far I surprisingly alone. It was the perfect day, I thought for sure the trail would be more crowded, at least at the bottom. I hiked for several more hours and there still wasn’t a soul to be found. I didn’t expect to see anybody else. I rarely saw anybody near the top anymore. Most people gave up after half way because the terrain became so rocky and steep.
I was happy for the solitude. That’s why I always went to the top. It was usually so busy for the first few miles. I was rounding the last turn. It was a particularly difficult bend because the ledge was so thin and you had to go around the edge of a large boulder. For about 20 feet it only had a sheer drop of several hundred feet. A simple slip meant sure death, but the payoff was always worth it. This was the real reason the peak was always empty. People rarely wanted to risk the turn because they had no idea just how sweet the view was. I did, and the risk of a gruesome ending to my lonely life was hardly a deterrent anymore.
I was through the bulk of the turn when my foot slipped. I had taken this turn dozens of times and I knew it better than almost anybody. I was so sure I would have no problem getting through. By not giving it the respect it deserved I found myself hanging there by the tips of my fingers. I was starting to sweat and my grip was not going to last much longer. Despite my best efforts I had not been able to find any foothold. I knew there wasn’t any there, it was foolish to try. I seriously thought about just letting my fingers slip. But for some reason my body was putting all of its effort into maintaining that fragile grip.
I looked over and realized I only had about 5 feet of ledge left in order to get around the bend. It became apparent that if I could just get over that I perhaps dig into the softer ground and pull myself up. I started to inch over. It took an incredible amount of effort and the sweat was starting to drip from my palms. Two feet left, one foot left, one of my hands lost its grip. I was hanging by three measly little fingers. This was the end and I knew it. My fingers were starting to go and I accepted my fate. I took a deep breath and let go of the last of the friction between my fingers and the rock.
I felt like I was falling forever, but when I opened my eyes I realized I wasn’t falling at all. It was just the wind kicking up from the drop around me. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t dead. My eyes came into focus and I saw her hand. Her delicate but firm hand tightly gripped around my wrist and holding on with everything she had. I gasped at her beauty and I was convinced that she was an angel. Finally after gaping for a millennia I heard her say, “Would you mind giving me your other hand I can’t hold you forever.”
Reality and my survival instinct sunk back in and I swung my arm around to meet hers. It turned out that she liked the seclusion of the peak as well and had been up there the entire time I was struggling to survive. She said that I was remarkably quiet for someone who was on the edge of death. She wouldn’t had seen or heard me if she hadn’t decided to go back down at that moment. She was able to reach out and grab me at just the right moment. I went back to that peak countless times again after that day, but I never went alone again, and neither did she.
Feel free to use the prompt for yourself and pingback to me so I can read it.