For this exercise, I’ll tell the stories behind five photos over the course of five days.
In March of 2008, my sister Laurie and her husband visited me in Las Vegas. To me, one of the best parts of Southern Nevada — no, the best part — is the hiking. That day, we decided to hike Kyle Canyon, about 45 minutes from Las Vegas. It’s not a desert area, it’s at a higher elevation so everything’s green and there are pine trees and snow. We wanted to see Mary Jane Falls, a waterfall in a rather remote area.
It was 1.5 miles up a mountain to the falls. We started walking and it was really steep. We walked across a lot of snow, even though it wasn’t really even that cold. We couldn’t tell if we were on any sort of trail or anything, but we decided to just go up and we’d get there.
I had to stop frequently because of my asthma, and because the air is so thin and I couldn’t catch my breath. I was really struggling.
At one point, while were stopped for a break, my chin went down and I passed out for a split second. Laurie rushed up to me and caught me before I fell backwards. I had no idea why she was shouting — I was completely out of it, sort of in a weird daze.
But I had some water and some snacks and I took a rest on the ground for a few minutes and felt better. That’s when this photo was taken. We kept trudging on.
Finally, we made it! The falls were so cool. When we got there, a few other people were sitting on rocks resting. They saw where were came from and asked us if we just walked up the side of the mountain.
We said we did, and they told us about the switchbacks, where are basically unpaved ramps that were not far from the route we took, but we couldn’t see them because it’s so heavily wooded. They said it was really easy to make it up going that way.
Aaargh! We couldn’t believe it! People brought little kids and dogs up by using the switchbacks. Oh well — when we got up there we felt we had really accomplished something, so we didn’t regret hiking up the side of the mountain like we did.
We ate some snacks we’d brought and then Laurie said she wanted to go up to this cave that was next to the falls. To get there you have to scale a rock wall about 20-plus feet off the ground.
She’s tall and managed to make it on her own. Then Nick went. He didn’t make it on his first try — it’s really hard to find notches in the rock to hold onto and to place your feet.
I decided to try, but my arms and legs weren’t long enough to stretch to the footholds. I tried a second time and didn’t make it.
I was just sitting on a rock with our stuff. They said, “We’ll be down in a minute,” and I thought, “This is really lame. I know I can get up there.”
So without saying anything (they were in the cave and couldn’t see me coming up) I tried for a third time. I was almost there, then one of my feet slipped.
I was holding on with my fingertips and started yelling, “Help! I’m gonna fall! Help!” and I burst into tears.
Laurie rushed over and told me I wasn’t going to fall, it would be OK, and grabbed my arms. She pulled me up and we both fell in a heap right outside the cave.
I was shaking and crying…but I made it. They asked why I didn’t say anything about coming up and I said wanted to surprise them.
Pretty stupid. I really could have fallen and cracked some bones. But I was grateful that my sister didn’t let me fall either time.