We are all capable of accomplishing amazing, miraculous things but first we must conquer our inner fears.
One time I faced death and I tried to run away in a blind panic but it was not until I controlled my fear and harnessed that panic that was I able to walk away from death.
In the June of 1984 I was a Project manager for a company that made laser inspection equipment. One project lead me to Fort Saskatchewan Alberta, Canada, I was working in an oil field for Dow Chemical.
I finished my assignment and took some I time (4 Days) to explore the region. I had never been that far North before, less than 1,000 mile from the Arctic Circle and a reasonable drive to Banff National Park.
I drove due west on the Yellow head Branch of the Trans Canadian Highway for about 5 hours. As I approached the Rockies and finally saw them I got goose bumps on my arms, it was awesome sight. I stopped at the Park Gate entrance and watched Mountain goats and long horn sheep climb the sheer rock wall that flanked either side of the park entrance.
It was late by the time that I got to my hotel in Jasper. But it was June and the sun didn’t set until 11:00 PM. I remember sitting in a hot tub on the patio of my room watching the sun finally going down behind the mountains.
The next morning I headed south on the scenic Ice fields highway to explore the glaciers.
I turned off onto a side road which leads to the trail head of a beautiful 3 wall canyon, I believe it was called Weeping Wall canyon.
On the east face of the canyon was a mountain about 8,000 feet with a sheer rock face. A thin waterfall formed at the top of the mountain, formed from all the snow and ice melt and the water fell hundreds of feet to an azure, ice blue tarn below.
The north wall of the canyon was a 9,000 foot mountain and the west wall was this magnificent bald knob of a mountain.
As the sun started to warm things up I started to hear what sounded like the sharp crack of a gunshot, and then moments later the echo of the report. Then second’s later shards of rock would splash into the tarn. At first I thought that someone was on the bald mountain on the west side of the canyon firing at the rock wall on the east side. I looked and looked but could not find the source of the noise.
The sun rose higher and warmed the east wall more and the frequency of the cracks increased. I realized that the Sun was creating enough of a temperature difference that the rock wall was expanding and actually exploding, sending shards of rock wall to the tarn.
This was a wonderful sight, something I had never seen before. I was determined to climb up to the top of the Bald Mountain and witness this. I wasn’t using very good judgment. To hike alone into the wilderness without anyone knowing I was going was very risky business. The June weather in the Rockies is notoriously changeable and it was grizzly bear country. I knew it was unwise but I was only passing this way once. Filled with the audacious confidence of youth I set out into the wilderness, I was going to the top of Bald Mountain.
I followed a well marked trail along the side of bald mountain, above the tree line and eventually to the top of the mountain. The top was one huge barren rock top. I sat alone on the very top of the world, basking in the sun, and marveled at the glorious sight.
Suddenly ominous, malevolent clouds roiled over the north wall of the canyon. I took me a minute to realize how fast the clouds appeared seemingly out of nowhere, but you didn’t need to be Daniel Boone to realize that those clouds meant trouble.
Before I had a chance to react I was completely engulfed in the clouds. I found myself in the middle of a complete whiteout blizzard. I had zero visibility. The ferocity of the wind, whipping the snow around me like a maelstrom completely shocked me, this was beyond my experience.
I realized that I couldn’t see where I was going and the smooth barren top of the mountain provided no reference points and that I could literally walk off the side of the cliff. I was alone and no one even knew I was there; I would die alone in the wilderness. As this thought set in my horror quickly turned to sheer panic.
I began to run blindly, wildly into the storm. As luck would have it, I fell face first into a slight depression in the rock surface. The cold hard slap of the rock snapped me back to sanity and the declivity provided enough of a shelter for me to huddle on my hands and knees hiding my head into my chest.
I remembered I had stuffed and orange in my pocket and forced myself to calmly peel it and slowly eat it all as the stormed intensified around me.
I resolved that I was not going to run off the cliff like a mad man. If I were to die this day, I was going to die trying.
I decided to literally crawl off the mountain. If I came to the cliff wall, at least I would feel it with my hands even if I couldn’t see it. I crawled for what seemed like hours, I actually have no idea how long my ordeal lasted. Eventually it became easier to determine which direction was down and I found the beginning of the trail down. As the wall of the trail grew taller, I was spared from the onslaught from at least one side.
Hugging the side of the wall, I inched down the trail. Eventually I went below the tree line and then, as if by magic I literally walked below the cloud ceiling. And then it was quiet. I knew I had made it, I had conquered my inner fear, I accomplished an amazing, miraculous thing, I was going to live.