I wrote the following piece as a newspaper column in 2002 and posted it as a blog a couple of years ago. A major motion picture titled "127 HOURS" opened last week, based on the incident in this article.
GETTING OVER THE HILL
In the movie THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN, Robert Redford is a former rodeo champion, now past his prime, selling his soul to a large corporation as a spokesman for their brand of breakfast cereal. During a moment of disillusionment with his life, aided by a hefty dose of Jack Daniels, he rides off with a prized horse owned by the corporation in order to save it from being turned into a commercial puppet like himself.
Newspaper reporter Jane Fonda tracks down Redford and the stolen horse, joining them in their journey across remote areas of Utah. Redford plans to release the horse into the wild, freeing it from exploitation. Fonda tags along hoping to get a good news story out of it.
One day, as they’re walking up a formidable hill, Fonda begs Redford to slow down and take a rest.
Instead of slowing down, Redford marches on while telling Fonda a story from his old rodeo days about a cowboy who broke a rib and punctured his lung during a bull ride yet continued competing in his events.
“And he still rode the rankest mare there,” Redford said, proudly.
Fonda isn’t exactly impressed, wondering why men have to display so much machismo.
“It gets you over the hill,” Redford exclaims as he continues trudging up the incline.
Every once in a while we are faced with the option to gut it out or fall by the wayside. Sometimes it isn’t even an option.
In November of 2002, 27-year-old Aron Ralston quit his engineering job to pursue his goal of becoming the first person to climb solo, in winter, all 55 of Colorado’s peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation.
Four months later, he survived an avalanche but remained undeterred.
In April of 2003, having told no one of his plans, Ralston was hiking alone in Blue John Canyon in a remote area of Utah when his right arm became pinned by an 800-pound boulder.
Falling by the wayside was not an option.
Ralston was trapped for five days and out of water before he finally took the only action he could to save himself. He broke each of the two bones in his forearm, applied a tourniquet and cut off his right arm at the point of the break with a pocketknife. Then he rigged an anchor, fixed a rope and rappelled 60 feet to the canyon floor.
After hiking for about five miles, covered with blood, Ralston encountered two tourists and was transported to safety.
It later took a crew of 13, using jacks and a hoist, to move the boulder and recover Ralston’s arm, which was subsequently delivered to the local mortuary. Because of the crude field surgery, doctors were forced to amputate the arm even closer the elbow.
While this particular tragedy was gruesome, Ralston brought much of it on himself. A prudent wilderness hiker would notify someone of their destination and expected time of return. Plus, hiking with a companion is essential in emergencies. With today’s electronics, carrying a cell phone or walkie-talkie would also be wise. And of course, avoid positioning body parts under anything heavier than a Buick.
If unwilling to take these basic precautions, find another hobby such as checkers or basket weaving.
Even though I try to live a simple life, I too must gut it out on occasion. For example, I’ll often get out of bed even if I’m still tired.
A person is the sum of their actions. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and rise to the occasion.
It gets you over the hill.
Quote for the Day – "You are an Eternal Soul, surrounded by Infinity. Virtue is nothing more than the proper use of energy." Bret
Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the sum of his actions is 33. His blogs appear on several websites, including www.myspace.com/bret1111