One Hell of a Mile 1


Recently I complained to my Mother that I had trouble finding people to go on Team Crowbar expeditions. After a hesitant pause she told me:
"J__, you like to suffer. You're never going to find a lot of people who want that the way you do."

Her statement was true, and strangely prophetic. Two days later found Team Crowbar driving into a ferocious lightning storm, straight to the heart of the Grand Canyon. We sought access to a cave purported to exist deep among the creases and folds of those canyon walls.

We calculated the distance from our small encampment to the cave at almost exactly one mile. The number was deceptive; 2-dimensional distance means little when there was almost a mile vertically separating us from the entrance as well.

That night we huddled under our shelter while the rains continued to drive down. Lightning flashed occasionally, illuminating the severe drop-off just yards away from where we sat. Peering over the edge, we could not see the ground, just a thick swirling fog that would soon consume us.

Before sunrise the day began cold and wet. We rappelled deeper and deeper into the narrow gorges. Soon though the sun rose and the temperature began to increase. As the fog burned away we could see that we were surrounded by soaring cliffs. The ropes we had descended on seemed to be as insubsantial as a spider's web.

Waiting for our packs to be lowered from above before my partner rappelled I rested on a ledge. Without warning some object from overhead streaked by me and struck the ledge with an ear splitting crack. In an instant everything was sprayed with a fine mist, and the object went spinning off into the void. Suddenly I realized I had narrowly avoided being struck by a water bottle that had fallen 150 feet. The temperature, still steadily on the rise quickly erased all trace of the misty residue left behind by that deadly missile.

Finally though we approached the area where we believed the cave lay in wait. As we made our way through narrow, twisting canyon passages we came out into an enormous stone amphitheater. Cliff walls, nearly 1000 feet and height stretched in a bowl around us. The canyon through which we had descended ended abruptly, at the edge of the bowl, in a dry waterfall, 800 feet above the ground. The GPS said we were only feet away from the cave, but neglected to describe the vast vertical gulf that separated us. We were defeated. Still the temperature rose.

A further accident led to the loss of yet another water bottle. Now with a single liter of drinkable water between the two of us, we faced the long hard return in the heat of the day.

"Only a mile," I quipped.

We eyed each other a little dazedly. The suffering had only just begun.

On Safari


When we realized we weren't getting down there.


See the world, they
told me...

bayou goula towhead

the sea test

the circumnavigator pt5
the circumnavigator pt4
the circumnavigator pt3
the circumnavigator pt2
the circumnavigator pt1
falling dream
the darkness
one hell of a mile 3&4
he will return
the believers
the horror pt2
the horror pt1
death valley

paradise of outlaws
the mountain climbers 1&2
brought to surface
one hell of a mile 3
the lost world
inner gorge
a ghost story
the riddle
slaying the minotaur
heart of darkness
public lands
organ music
two sought adventure
the virgin river
the road north

steal the world
the end of the world
el dorado
the valley of the kings 2
the valley of the kings 1
one hell of a mile 2
one hell of a mile 1
the mountain climbers rr4
heroes rr3
rainy roadtrip 2
rainy roadtrip 1
the transgression
sinister 2
sinister 1
new chapter

like sedona?
torn in two
bridge to nowhere
the door
hitting the wall
elusive 2
elusive 1
pick up lines

revisited 2
revisited 1
which way?
lost mines
in their footsteps
a dance with death

casting the bones
mountain thief
the deer hunter
strange temple
burial pt. 3
burial pt. 2
burial pt. 1
the apparition
return to hell
the lower depths
underground lake
stretch sewer
the hidden lab
shadow movements
meager rations
sw8: the conclusion
sw7: lost gold mines
sw6: the big tubes
sw5: gold!
sw4: el calderon
sw3: redondo
sw2: ghosts
sw1: westward bound
formaldehyde dreams
the underdark
in the beginning