A few nice how to lose weight easily at home images I found:
Pagan Summer (1965) … Why your memory IMPROVES with age (Well, up to a point, anyway) — Lost your thingamajig: Not to worry (13th January 2012) …item 2.. THE MOODY BLUES — In Search of the Lost Chord — 1968.wmv …
Image by marsmet525
Frustratingly, too, we can also find ourselves able to build vivid memory pictures of events that occurred decades ago, but incapable of remembering what we had for breakfast.
This is because the brain creates very different kinds of memories — and in mid-life some of our memory systems can become weaker than others.
…….***** All images are copyrighted by their respective authors ……
…..item 1)…. Mail Online … www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/ … Why your memory IMPROVES with age (Well, up to a point, anyway)
By JOHN NAISH
Last updated at 9:17 AM on 13th January 2012
Senior moments? Forget them. Now it’s middle-aged muddle we must worry about. Scientists last week declared that our ability to remember everyday things such as names and numbers starts to go at the tender age of 45.
But before you resign yourself to spending the second half of your life as a mental basket-case, there is positive scientific news, too.
For memory is a strange and complex thing, as this guide to the mind makes clear…
img code photo … Lost your thingamajig: Not to worry…
—– First the bad news…
Last week’s study of more than 7,000 Whitehall civil servants revealed how our power of recall starts to decline earlier than previously thought. Men and women suffered the same 3.6 per cent loss in memory power between the ages of 45 and 49, revealed the ten-year study published online in the British Medical Journal.
Fears about age-related memory loss are hardly new. Plato wrote that when a man grows old, he ‘can no more learn much than he can run much’. But evidence of problems in mid-life is worrying because these may be the first signs of a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). This is an accelerated loss of memory power that can, in about half of cases, turn out to be the first early sign of Alzheimer’s. Scientists believe that Alzheimer’s can begin in the brain two or three decades before serious symptoms appear.
Just ONE cannabis joint ‘can cause psychiatric episodes similar to schizophrenia’ as well as damaging memory
Vitamin B and folic acid ‘boosts memory in pensioners’
Nicotine patches ‘can slow mental decline’ and improve the memory of elderly people, study shows
Struggle to get out of your chair? Puffed-out on the stairs? Could you be growing old before your time?
I don’t believe it! We’re NOT a nation of Victor Meldrews… because the older we get the HAPPIER we are, study reveals
Regardless of our Alzheimer’s risk, though, we all seem to suffer some loss of mental capacity from a comparatively young age. Studies show that the processing speed in our brains slows down from our 20s onwards. ‘By mid-life, most of our brains show some fraying around the edges,’ says Barbara Strauch, author of The Secret Life Of The Grown-Up Brain.
‘People’s names are often the first edge to go ragged,’ she adds. ‘But the names are not technically gone. For the most part, it’s a problem of retrieval, not storage.’ This difficulty is not caused by a simple loss of brain cells. Scientists used to think that we lost 30 per cent of our brain cells through ageing. But recent studies show that the loss is much smaller. Instead, advancing years can bring a drop in the levels of chemical messengers in our brain — called neurotransmitters. As a result, memory-power can drop, and we can also find ourselves getting distracted more easily.
Research shows that much of what we learn is not missing; it just gets misplaced. Hence that frustrating sense of ‘it’s in there somewhere,’ when names, facts and figures elude our grasp.
Frustratingly, too, we can also find ourselves able to build vivid memory pictures of events that occurred decades ago, but incapable of remembering what we had for breakfast. This is because the brain creates very different kinds of memories — and in mid-life some of our memory systems can become weaker than others.
img code photo … Alamy …
Wisdom of the ancients: Plato wrote that when a man grows old, he ¿can no more learn much than he can run much¿
—– So how does your memory work?
There are several memory systems at work in the brain. One memory system comes into operation if you try to remember a place name or a phone number. Remembering things that can be expressed in language is called ‘explicit’ memory. Another memory system covers things of which you may not be consciously aware, such as how to ride a bicycle. That is called ‘implicit’ memory.
There is also short-term or ‘working’ memory and long-term memory. Short-term memory would be remembering a phone number for five minutes; long-term involves recalling it in a year’s time.
Such differences in memory types are all too familiar to Joshua Foer, an American writer and international memory champion who has honed his immediate short-term memory so well that he can recall details such as the order of a newly shuffled deck of cards.
But he admits memories that require a little more longevity are more problematic: only a few nights after he won the annual US Memory Championships in 2006, he forgot that he had driven his car into town to eat dinner. He took a train home instead.
img code photo … Alamy …
An MRI scan of a human head shows the brain: Short term memories are formed in the hippocampus, scientists say, but where long term memories reside remains a mystery
Short-term and long-term memories are stored in different parts of the brain. A structure in the brain called the hippocampus is key to short-term memory. This area normally grows new brain cells throughout our lives, and is responsible for processing information and retrieving it. It is one of the major areas that are damaged by Alzheimer’s, which is why short-term memory is one of the first casualties of the disease.
Long-term memory involves many disparate parts around the brain, which are called ‘association cortices’. One current theory of memory is that the hippocampus forms short-term memories and then squirrels some of them away for long-term storage in various cupboards — the association cortices. But we don’t yet know how the brain does this.
In fact, scientists remain unsure about many details of how memories are stored and formed. Mystery also surrounds the question of how we can remember events happening in the right sequence. Recent studies have shown, however, that an area of the brain called the medial temporal lobe is crucial to recalling events correctly: people who have suffered damage to this area through strokes have trouble remembering the plots of films or even personal anecdotes in the right order.
—– Senior moment – or something worse?
In normal age-related memory loss, short-term recall is usually most affected. In moderation, this is quite healthy. It is also natural to worry that such mid-life forgetfulness is a harbinger of something more sinister, such as dementia.
The ‘aha!’ test can indicate if you should be concerned. If you forget a word temporarily, but feel that it is on the tip of your tongue, and finally recall it with a sense of ‘Aha! That’s it,’ then your reaction is healthy.
This does not tend to happen with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, where people lose that sense of recognition when a memory is right.
—– It’s not just age that ruins memory
Growing older is not the only reason that our memory power may dwindle. Our ability to remember things can also be afflicted by our lifestyles. One common problem may be stress.
Studies show that quick bursts of stressful excitement can actually benefit our memory — perhaps because our brains evolved to rally their best resources when faced with an immediate threat such as a tiger in the grass. But long-term chronic stress, the sort that can grind into us with the constant demands of busy modern life, can damage our brain’s ability form new memories.
This is because constant high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can damage the hippocampus. Being soaked in cortisol dramatically reduces the ability of the hippocampus to produce new cells. This is linked to significant problems with concentration and memory, says research by the Stanford University scientist Robert Sapolsky.
Such difficulties can be increased because, ironically, in stressful situations we often depend more on memory for recalling certain things to help guide us through the problem.
—– Does modern life make us forget?
img code photo … ALEX LENTATI
‘Security protection code overload’: The profusion of PINs has many worried that they are losing their memory
More and more people are anxiously consulting medical experts about ‘problems’ with their memory, in fear that they have early signs of dementia, according to Michael Saling, a neuropsychologist at Melbourne University. But, he says, they are often just suffering from a problem that psychologists have labelled ‘security protection code overload’.
Put simply, the worried patients feel mentally overwhelmed by all the numbers, codes and operating systems that they have to know in order simply to function in a computer-dominated environment.
That can lead to the common experience of ‘PIN-number amnesia’, where you find yourself standing in front of a cash machine, your mind a fearful blank, with an impatient queue forming behind you.
—– The good news…
Stresses and strains aside, modern life has good news for middle-aged brains. Neuroscientists have recently begun to discover how the mid-life brain, rather than giving up, instead reconfigures itself in order to cope.
As researchers at Duke University, North Carolina, and elsewhere have found, people in middle age begin to use two sides of their brains where previously only one might have been employed on a task.
This is called bilateralisation.
Commenting on this research, Barbara Strauch explains that as we age, the two sides of our brains become more intertwined, letting us see bigger patterns and think more broadly. Science may even have witnessed how ‘middle-aged wisdom’ grows in the brain. It used to be thought that the brain steadily lost myelin with age.
Myelin is the white-matter fatty coating of neurons which makes the connections in the brain work well by enabling electrical signals to travel through the brain quickly and efficiently — rather like the insulation on electronic wires.
When myelin withers, we may forget the names of people we’ve just met, or details of how to get to a new address.
New research shows that in mid-life, most of the myelin loss occurs in parts of the brain responsible for learning new things. The parts responsible for long-term memory show no such loss.
That would account for why we have trouble with new memories as we age, but not with our core knowledge. And something else has been found to happen — the level of myelin around people’s brains can continue to grow late into middle age.
Harvard University scientists who have witnessed this say that it may be a physical sign of the growth of ‘middle-aged wisdom’, where accumulated knowledge is being collated and networked more efficiently by the white matter.
—– How to protect your memory
Fortunately, health researchers believe there are ways in which we can significantly help to preserve our memory in later life.
The key is to stave off the sort of physical decline that can lead to mental decline and dementia. Dr Anne Corbett, of the Alzheimer’s Society, says: ‘Preventing dementia is all about everyday healthy living.
‘We have strong evidence for what medical conditions increase your risk. They are high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol and depression. If you have these in mid-life onwards you are at higher risk of developing dementia.’
The human brain is the most complex piece of thinking equipment that has ever evolved. Your body is the life-support system for this very hungry piece of grey matter.
img code photo … Alamy …
Brain training: Just a little daily exercise, like this Zumba class, could reduce the risk of the decline of your mental abilities, many studies have shown
While your brain constitutes only about 2 per cent of your body’s mass, it uses more than a fifth of its energy production. Efficient supply and maintenance are vital. If your physical health declines, your brain — and its sophisticated systems of memory — are at serious risk of following suit.
Just taking a little more daily exercise could make a huge difference for millions of people. ‘More than 13 studies show that exercise can reduce risk by up to 45 per cent,’ says Corbett. ‘Evidence shows that the exercise does not have to be strenuous to have this benefit: it can involve active walking for around 30 minutes a day, three times a week.
‘The exercise just has to raise the heartbeat by a little, making you feel slightly breathless.’
‘Exercising’ your brain with expensive computerised ‘brain-training games’ will not provide any real benefit, though, says Dr Corbett. Studies show that you may get better at playing the games themselves, but the benefits go no farther, she explains. It is the same with crosswords and Sudoko. They should be enjoyed for themselves, rather than taken as a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise.
img code photo … Alamy …
Ginko biloba: A study of more than 3,000 adults found that it made no difference at all to memory retension
And beware any claim about how any single food can boost your memory, says Corbett. Only last year, an important report in the Journal of the American Medical Association punctured the idea that the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba is a brain-saver. The study of more than 3,000 adults found that it made no difference at all.
Adopting broader healthy-eating habits can, however, significantly reduce the risk of dementia. A range of studies indicates that Mediterranean-style diets work best, as they are low in fat and salt and high in oily fish.
Avoiding junk food can have real benefits, too. A study last month in the respected journal Neurology found people with junk diets high in complex ‘trans-fats’ are more likely to experience the kind of brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s than those who consume less of the artery-damaging fats.
There is another compelling reason why healthy eating can boost your memory: it helps to keep your weight in trim. People who are obese in middle age are 74 per cent more likely to develop dementia compared with those of normal weight, according to a 27-year study of more than 10,000 men and women in the British Medical Journal.
Laboratory studies conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have found that caffeine strengthens brain connections. Drinking two cups of coffee a day appears to boost electrical activity between neurons in the hippocampus. The scientists say stronger connectivity means better learning and memory.
—– Memory plays tricks on us all
No matter how good our powers of memory, they can all be fooled. Because, whatever our age, memory is a slippery thing that can be grossly misleading.
A survey of 1,500 people last August by the University of Illinois found that most of us think that human memory is as reliable as a video camera that records information precisely. Moreover, around half of us think that our memories never change.
But scientific research shows the opposite is true. Even our most closely held recollections can completely change without us noticing.
Researchers who study how people remember momentous events have discovered that although people will swear faithfully that they remember exactly what they were doing when they first heard news of the event, their memory is wrong in about a third of cases.
John Seamon, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, has studied this phenomenon and says that, oddly, it is possible that the more frequently we recall an event, the less accurately we remember it.
His research suggests that when we use our minds to recall a particular memory, we do not go back to the event itself, but rather to the last time we remembered it. Each recollection adds new flaws and reinforces previous flaws. Eventually, we settle on a version that we subsequently consider to be gospel truth.
‘This is not done on a conscious level,’ Seamon believes. ‘But people are figuring out: “Where was I?
What is the story I’m going to tell about this event?”’
After about a year of doing this, he says, the memory — including the false elements — solidifies and becomes the person’s constant ‘truth’.
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…..item 2)…. youtube video … THE MOODY BLUES — In Search of the Lost Chord — 1968.wmv …
Published on May 29, 2012
THE MOODY BLUES — In Search of the Lost Chord — 1968(Deluxe Edition 2006)
In Search Of The Lost Chord 00:01
1-2 Ride My See-Saw
1-3 Dr. Livingstone, I Presume
1-4 House Of Four Doors (Part 1)
1-5 Legend Of A Mind
1-6 House Of Four Doors (Part 2)
1-7 Voices In The Sky
1-8 The Best Way To Travel
1-9 Visions Of Paradise
1-10 The Actor
1-11 The Word
Alternate Versions & Out-Takes 42:17
2-1 Departure (Alternate Mix)
2-2 The Best Way To Travel (Additional Vocal Mix)
2-3 Legend Of A Mind (Alternate Mix)
2-4 Visions Of Paradise (Instrumental Version)
2-5 What Am I Doing Here? (Original Version)2-6 The Word (Mellotron Mix)
2-7 Om (Extended Version)
2-8 A Simple Game (Justin Hayward Vocal Mix) – 1968 Studio Recording
2-9 King And Queen – BBC ‘Top Gear’ Sessions
2-10 Doctor Livingstone I Presume
2-11 Voices In The Sky
2-12 Thinking Is The Best Way To Travel
2-13 Ride My See Saw – BBC ‘Afternoon Pop Show’ Session
2-14 Tuesday Afternoon – 1968 Single ‘B’ Side
2-15 A Simple Game
People & Blogs
Standard YouTube License
Climbing THE BEAST
Image by Philerooski
Okay! It’s been a while. I typed this up a loooong time ago meaning to share it with you guys. A lot (one or two :P) people have complimented me on the interesting write ups I do for photos sometimes. So I decided to write a story about one very unique and exciting weekend in my life this past summer and put it on Flickr. Anyways, without any further ado…
If you’re the kind of person that comments on photos in their contacts photostreams and hopes they get a comment back on their latest flower macro shot, then I suggest you move on. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to hear stories full of action, adventure, near-death experiences, hot babes, and the like, then stay where you are and hear the story I have to tell! I believe it will be well worth your time 🙂
Me and two of my friends from the school cross country team, Taylor and Anthony, decided to organize our very own camping trip before the summer ended and the daily grind of school began. We came to the conclusion that Rimrock Lake in central Washington would be the perfect location for all the amazing adventures we were sure to have. We bought all our food, borrowed equipment from the parents, and headed out Friday morning in my ’98 Chevy with 40 dollars in each of our wallets to pay for gas and emergencies.
The first day we did the typical, set up camp, swam in the near freezing glacial stream, explored the forest, chopped down a couple of trees for LOLs, and some other things that I wouldn’t want my mother to know about 😉
The sunset that night actually turned out to be really good, and since I had brought the tripod and my mom’s DSLR along, we were shooting up nature like there was no tomorrow. You can check out some of those photos below if you’d like… That night we stayed up in our tent till early morning talking about girls (OF COURSE, we’re three teenage guys for crying out loud!), and after we were certain that the noises we heard outside our tent weren’t the squirrel attack that we all feared, we slept until our stomachs woke us the next morning.
Saturday started out with Cocoa Puffs, Gatorade, and a two-mile hike upstream to brush our teeth. By then it was actually 1 in the afternoon because we had slept in for so long, so we headed back to camp to chow down on some more food and relax a little. We soon realized that we NEEDED some Lil Wayne (Well, they did. I could care less :P), and our stereo was in need of some batteries. Our trip to the local store gave us enough batteries to last us for an all-day Lil Weezy marathon and put a 15 dollar dent in our wallets.
Okay, now comes the interesting part.
As we were driving back from the store, we saw the huge rock face on the eastern side of the lake that we had driven by so many times before.
Taylor – “Dude, we should climb that and take photos of the sunset from the top, that would be sick.”
Anthony – “Are you kidding me?! That thing’s like sheer rock CLIFF. There’s no way we could climb that beast!”
Me – “Hold on, see that line of trees to the top? That means it’s not as steep as the rest of the mountain, maybe we could climb up along there. As long as we don’t go too far left where it starts to turn into cliff again…”
We knew that it would be a long climb to the top, because what we discovered when we started our climb is that it was roughly a 100% grade most of the way up. So even though it was only 4:30, we gathered our gear together (I was in charge of the towel, a flashlight, the camera, and the peanut butter), and stuffed it all into our spike bags. We parked our car off to the side of the tree line, slightly on the cliff side, so we could head up at an angle and know for sure that we’ll hit where we wanted to be on the mountain. And off we went on our journey, each of us sporting a t-shirt and sneakers; Anthony and Taylor had some basketball shorts on; I had on my swimsuit.
The first part started off in a huge ascent, way steeper than any trail I had ever hiked. This quickly plateaud, though, and we were back hiking on the flat. After 5 minutes of trailblazing, the plateau dropped down before it started the actual climb up the mountain. At the bottom of the drop was a road, which, needless to say, was a huge smack in the face for us. But it also confused us at the same time because we hadn’t seen the entrance from the main road. Without much of an alternative option, we headed down the road a bit towards the trees, thankful for the path, but still a little perplexed.
We came to a part of the hill that was slightly clearer than the rest, and decided to cut back into the mountain. The climb was even steeper than the beginning slope, and progress was slow. It was a half climb/crawl to the tree line, which made its beginnings near a rockslide. We decided to stick close to the edge of the rockslide and use the trees as support on our climb. Apparently some deer had had the same thought process as us, because we would often find trails that started a promising climb toward the top, before slowly dwindling away back into nothing. At last, after 30 minutes on the loose rocks, we reached the top of the rockslide. (A picture looking down from the rock slide in the comments below). We were about a quarter of the way there.
The next section of terrain was a mixture of loose rocks, saplings, and giant boulders, as we quickly yet carefully clambered our way step by step up the unforgiving slope. Another half hour passed, and we were starting to realize that maybe it wasn’t the climb that was going to give us the most difficulty, but the descent…
Putting that thought aside for now since we had already climbed so far, another 15 minutes found us at the top of the steep rise that most of the mountain consisted of, but we were far from done. The next section of mountain was made up of hundreds of dead and decomposing trees, an obstacle course of vegetation that had us hopping from log to log. Thousands of “white puffy things” as we liked to call them, surrounded us as we headed upwards. The ascent was now walkable, but the precarious nature of each footfall and handhold on the branches above kept us on our toes, sometimes literally. The climb seemed to never end, and we had thoughts of abandoning our sunset photoshoot for a safe climb back home. We even considered staying the night at the top, since we had brought warm clothes and a blanket and it was doubtful any animals lived at the top of this rock wall in the middle of the forest.
That’s when it happened, finally, at the edge of our patience, the sky opened up and we were at the top. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! we cried, joyful that we had accomplished our goal, and that we were still alive. We started walking towards the other side of the mountain because we knew that was where the rock cliff (and the awesome view) was. Then we saw it, to the left, jutting out from the mountain towards the heavens, was a knoll that stood above everything else in the forest. The sight was comparable to seeing the edge of Pride Rock, and knowing that on the other side was an amazing view of the Pride Lands. In reckless abandon, we sprinted over to this unbelievable sight and climbed the final 20 meters to the top.
The view was incredible. Giant rock formations that had towered over us down at camp now looked like small cutouts from the mountain ranges that surrounded us. Rimrock Lake, which had taken us 30 minutes just to drive around, was easily all within view; and Clear Lake five miles away could be seen as well. We could hardly believe our eyes; we had never before seen anything more amazing then what lay before us at that moment. The American flag colored kite we found hidden among the rocks only made the location even more mystical.
Despite the incredible view, it was freezing at the top with the wind, and the temperature had started to drop for nightfall. I was impervious to the cold, I was in THE ZONE. I had the tripod out and I was using every exposure trick I knew in order to get sharp, properly exposed photos. Anthony and Taylor weren’t as tolerant as I was. We had saved our location on Taylor’s Garmin Forerunner 405 watch as we left the truck, but now that we had turned the watch back on to get us back home the right way, the arrow was telling us to make a beeline straight for the cliff, and instant death.
I could hear them in the background moaning about how our lives were over and how we’re never going to get off this mountain alive (although I knew they were just kidding). At last, the message that no photographer wants to see popped up on my screen: Memory Card Full. I had gotten what I had came here for, though, and we started heading back down the mountain, certain that no sane person would wait around for sunset and then attempt to climb back down in the dark.
There was a trail leading off to our right, so we followed it back down into the dense vegetation. The side of the hill shielded us from the wind, and we quickly warmed back up zigzagging through the trees down the mountain. Eventually the enclosure of the forest opened up to a meadow and gave us a sense of where we were. To our right and ahead of us, was sheer cliff. We had gone too far right, and were now on the part of the mountain where the only way down was a 300 foot vertical drop.
We cut back into the forest at a 45 degree angle, hoping to reach a part of the descent that was more manageable. After a while, the slow climb of the forest ended and we were back on our butts crawling down the mountain.
At first, there were lots of trees to use as handholds and progress was steady. But after a while, the foliage started to dwindle away, and we were left with a steep hillside of loose rocks. We did what we could, and crawled down the steep decline with the utmost of caution. Sometimes, our vigilance would fail us, and we would send a large rock rolling down towards the person below us. Cries of “Rock!” and “Heads!” could be heard every couple of minutes. Sometimes the rock would roll away, or stop. Other times the person below wasn’t so lucky…
We weren’t entirely certain where we were, or what we were heading for, but we knew that each step brought us closer to the flat ground below. After an hour of descending, we heard a cry from Anthony, who was in the lead.
“What is it?” we asked
“Oh, you don’t want to know…” came the reply.
Shifting his weight to one side, Anthony picked up a stone and hurled it down below us.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5…” we counted.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, we heard the distant sound of rock hitting rock. This instantly told us that when we thought we were climbing down to safety, we were actually climbing straight into the mouth of the cliff. My thoughts raced. I knew that the right side of the mountain was entirely cliff, as was the backside. Our only hope to make it back down the mountain in one piece was to either backtrack to the forest on top, or shimmy left along the beginnings of the cliff towards climbable terrain. Unfortunately, time was against us, sunset had started; and although we couldn’t see where the sun was in the sky, the clouds had started to burst into color. I made an executive decision and sent us left, thinking that we had to traverse the ravine that I had seen from above and, earlier that day, below. That would put us in a more favorable position then the life-threatening one we were in now.
Shimmying along the steep slope was slow and tedious work. Fatigue had been getting to us for a while, and we grew more and more weary as the day wore on. Lucky for us, we were 3 teens who had been running once to twice a day everyday for the past 12 weeks, and not a bunch of fat nerds who wanted to climb a mountain to lose weight.
Nerves were high, and every exclamation, good or bad, had a strong effect on our emotions. We worked together to figure out climbing patterns and hand holds. At last, we had crossed over the ravine and were looking over to the other side.
What we saw was not pleasant, though. Instead of the familiar tree line and rockslide that we had expected, we saw another ravine; and this one even closer to the vertical drop of the cliff. Climbing up was not an option, the crossover to whatever lay on the other side only grew steeper the farther up the eye followed it. With no other choice, we climbed whichever way we could in order to get left.
Our side-stepping process brought us dangerously close to the edge, but sheer determination and adrenaline kept us going. Eventually, we reached the point where we had to pick a route to crossover to the other side of the ravine (and hopefully safety). After clinging to the side of the cliff for life that was now very dear to us, we had reached a point that we had all worked so hard to get to. Only one undermining obstacle lay in front of us now, we could not spot a safe place to crossover, we were stuck.
Anthony, had been our main trailblazer for most of the trip, and he saw no way that we would be able to clamber across without freestyle rock climbing, and putting our lives on the line with each step. I couldn’t believe it. There HAD to be a way. Let me give it a shot, I told Anthony. He solemnly stepped aside in order to let me pass. I climbed over towards a promising looking rock and groped around on the other side. Below me, and one step to the right, was a fall that would have certainly ended my life without a second thought. Wind whipped us around, and the forest at the base of the mountain could be seen 200 feet below. The trees looked smaller from up above then they did on flat ground, it looked so far down that I wasn’t sure if we would even be able to make it off the steep part of the mountain before dark.
The rock was mostly smooth and you couldn’t see its other side. I reached over, but couldn’t find any obvious handholds on its upper half. I reached below mid-waist, but its contours didn’t change. That’s when my hand slipped into a single handhold close to the side I was on. If you have ever went rock climbing at the gym and grabbed on to one of those rocks that were so obviously made just for your fingers to grip, then you know what this handhold felt like. It was seemingly a helping hand from God himself, it was so perfect.
Staying as close as possible to the rock, and making sure I had a secure grip on the handhold, I “swung” myself across the gap, and over to the other side of the precarious cliff. After finding a secure place to camp for a couple of minutes, I instructed Anthony and Taylor how to best approach the rock and swing themselves over to the other side too. Anthony had been put in charge of the largest bag, and needed me to reach over the gap and grab hold of it so its momentum didn’t swing him off the cliff. When Anthony had safely crossed over, Taylor took his turn. After a few minutes of effort to find a comfortable position to swing over, he made it across as well.
The other side was closer to what we wanted to see. Although there were still a few technical drops that we had to maneuver down, we could see that the rocks flattened out all the way to the bottom. If I remember correctly, we had to grab a strong sapling and drop down to a small foot ledge. After that, we grabbed onto a rock hold and chiseled our feet into the side of the cliff, next to a very sturdy sapling, and made a mini “faith-drop” to another ledge below us. Finally, after swinging around another strong, young tree to the rocks below, we were on relatively safe ground.
Just in time too, as daylight had nearly faded and the blue hour was taking over. Five minutes of climbing on our butts got us to a part that was actually hikeable. We broke out the flashlights and the emotions all flooded out. Never before could I ever remember feeling so relieved, and such a strong feeling of companionship with my fellow teammates. I was so thankful for every little thing they had done, and what we had just been through was heavy on my mind. It was a strange feeling, full of pride, relief, confidence, and immeasurable trust.
When we reached the truck, we saw that the campers in the RVs we had parked near were all gathered around a campfire, despite the burn ban. We decided to go into their camp and ask for some water. Secretly, we actually had plenty of water left, and just wanted to brag of our adventures and maybe show off some pictures. Although we accidentally surprised the party of campers at first, they were more than happy to hear our story and give us each a large Albertsons water bottle for the road. We discovered that the campers were actually local, and lived in the Tri-Cities as well.
The drive back to camp was nearly surreal. We had been through so much ever since that afternoon. Each of us felt as if we were whole new people, changed by our experiences and the challenges we had been through. After gulping down some food, we quickly found our way back to the tent, and despite the hard ground, I was out cold within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. Taylor, I’m sure, stayed awake for a while, thinking of everything we had been through, before dozing off. Anthony couldn’t fall asleep for 2 more hours, the events of the day running through his mind over and over until exhaustion overtook him and he too fell asleep.
The next day we packed up our belongings and headed back home; unsure of what the “real world” would bring us after what we had done. But one thing we knew for sure, whatever it was, we could handle it. Together.