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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> What not to do.....my story of life and death.
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02/13/2006 05:45:44 PM · #1
Well to say that I haven't taken risks when I was shooting for challenges would be an understatement.

My first real challenge was a 24 hour "tack" challenge and I jabbed a tack into my thumb several times. Not to be out done I have cut the bottom out of a 5 gallon water dispenser bottle and put my head through it and tried to have a fish in it as well for a challenge. Ultimately it just made me real sick and I didn't even enter that challenge. And on another one put coins over my eyes and taped them shut as well as my mouth and laid under the water in my bathtub with small candles floating. I felt the water rushing in my ears and it was a horrible feeling so I panicked and flipped out of the water to only have some go down my nose and gag on it. But my mouth was taped shut so I coughed and threw up in my own mouth then ripped the tape off to do the same thing in the bath tub.

I am sure I am forgetting other mishaps during challenges that I have done. But today I had a life and death experience. So here is what happened.

These is a place near bloomfield, new mexico called Angel Peak. Its about 8-10 miles off a main highway. Its sort of a sunken in area several miles wide and 1,000 feet deep. It has its main feature a piece of sandstone or rock sticking out and everything else is sunken in. Me and singsunshine took out first trip their last fall. I decided last night to go on a shoot today. I told singsunshine where I was going to go and it wasn't angel peak. In the morning I changed my mind and decided to give angel peak a try in the early am hours. I left my house at 7:15am and arrived at angel peak at 7:45am. I was taking pictures looking down into it. The lighting wasn't to bad but with it have lots of crevaces and craggy parts their were lots of long shadows.

I climbed down onto one finger. Found all sorts of interesting weathered rocks. It was mostly sandstone but it felt really tough. Few parts were dirt like I expected it to be. And on top of the sandstone there were rocks that were embedded in the sandstone but worn away buy water and time so they stood up about 1/4" and were everywhere. I decided I was going to try and go between 2 fingers all the way to the valley below. I should have stopped their but I did not. It was pretty cold because now I was in the shadows and I just had a jacket on and tennis shoes and pants with sweats under them.

I slid down a section of sandstone that was like steps. Weathered by time and water. Then the sides formed a V and it was hard packed dirt with these littlelil hard rocks left on top of it. I slide down on my butt and I lost control and put my hands out. Bad idea because the littlelil rocks on top were like razor's. Stung my hands and I just had to gut it out until I made it down into the bottom of the V. I dusted myself off and thought it would be easy from here.

I had went down about 125' so far to this point. I followed where the water had run through and to my surprise I came to this huge hole. It was about 2' in diameter and the bottom looked to be about 6-7' down. Because the sides were like a V I had to either jump over this or walk along the sides. I didn't like the idea of putting my foot near the edge of the hole so I jumped across and made it pretty easily.

Then I looked ahead and had to make it past another that was below me. This hole I could see the bottom and it was only 3-4' deep. I had to crawl into it and got somewhat stuck. Buy this time I was getting pretty nervous. No one knew where I was. I had no cell phone. But I figured I could make it down. I knew it would be tougher to climb my way back up.

I crawled out of this hole and slide down the same hard but loose underneath dirt....right into a 4' diameter hole. I could not see the bottom. It seemed to go on forever. I put my hands on on one side of the V and my feet on the other. And just sat their. I finally moved my foot as I grabbed a weed..hoping it would uproot. I managed tom get between the big hole and another one that was further down. I realized I had made a bad decision.

I figured it was best to try and go down further. I had to run along the edge of the smaller hole and then the sides widened out. Their were several sink holes and I couldn't see their bottoms. I sat and cried and was contemplating taking some pictures of myself as a final goodbye. I yelled for help...I cried....I prayed. Nothing happened for 15 minutes as I sat their. I decided right then and their I couldn't make it down. But I needed to make good decisions now. And plan everything out.

I looked back up and knew if I could scale back up to the top of the finger I would be OK. I ran past the last small hole...but the dirt was disturbed from the first time and I almost went in. I lunged and grabbed onto anything I could. I drawled to where the large hole was. And did my best hand foot hand foot to get past it.

I finally made it to where I had initially slid down. I had to physically crawl up 3-4 times. I tried picking my way but would get so close to the ledges I just couldn't make it. Finally I did. I crawled up the sandstone steps and onto the top of the finger. I sat their worn out and I thanked god. I then was pretty wore out but I still had to tell myself its not over. The side I went down was a V the other side of the finger was straight down several hundred feet. I picked my way very carefully...cutting foot hold and handholds with my shoes. Finally make it to the top.

I looked back and gave the middle finger and took a picture of my shadow. I then drove out of their hoping I would not die in a car wreck. I called singsunshine to tell her what had happened and to tell her I loved her and I would never do that again.

Ultimately I was only able to get 12-15 pictures..and here are a few of them.

Just a word of warning.....no picture is worth risking your life for. I already knew that but somehow I sucked myself in deeper and deeper...fortunately I lived to tell about it.

Here are some pics.

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02/13/2006 05:51:35 PM · #2
Holy crap! Glad to hear you are alive, safe and sound.

Nice pictures, too!
02/13/2006 05:54:11 PM · #3
and I guess the lesson I've learned thru this is I'm in love with a crazy man! I guess I have to learn to deal with his crazy adventures.....lol
02/13/2006 05:55:35 PM · #4
Crazy!

I'm glad you are ok. Good reminder to always hike with a buddy. Reminds me of the "rock marooned" scene in the movie "Gerry".
02/13/2006 06:08:55 PM · #5
Thanks...yeah it was a crazy thing to do. But it is making me appreciate life that much more.

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02/13/2006 06:17:50 PM · #6
Two words: "You Moron!"

Glad yer still with us, though...

R.
02/13/2006 06:19:17 PM · #7
Man, we all do things that we later ask ourselves "what was I THINKING??" I guess this is destined to be one of those for you, LOL. So glad you came out of it unscathed.
02/13/2006 06:19:45 PM · #8
LOL @ Bear

Glad you made it out okay. Sounds very scary, for sure. I never hike alone, even if it's in the safest of places.
02/13/2006 06:20:25 PM · #9
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Two words: "You Moron!"

Glad yer still with us, though...

R.


You would have figured I would have learned by now. But I guess it took this time.

Hopefully my lack of better judgement and mistakes will help someone avoid anything simular.
02/13/2006 06:32:18 PM · #10
Sent a PM before I read the whole story. I'm from the same area that those sinkholes are NASTY! Beware of Clay dirt!! I was taken out to the badlands near my home not Angel Peak area but another, by my father when I was young. He wanted to be sure that neither my horse or I ever got into one of those. the hole on top can be only 6 inches in diameter but inside can be "big enough to swallow a car". I watch for them religiously!!! The can even appear in dirt roads that have been built up by the well field people.

Glad you made it out OK....Be careful out there! I find that if you stay on ridges and not the water cut crevasses there are much fewer of the sink holes...

02/13/2006 06:49:06 PM · #11
Whoah - great story, only great because you made it out without injuries though. Wouldn't be good to be stuck out there overnight this time of year without some gear.

Nice pictures too, I've never shot that area but I've been there (I live outside of Aztec, like 30 miles away). I've seen one very nice photo of the area that was before sunrise - the tones in the rocks are really different without the harsh lighing and shadows on them.

Have you ever been to the Alien Run mountain bike trail outside of Aztec? It goes into Hart canyon (I think), some really pretty scenery there. It's pretty long if you're not riding though, probably like 4-5hrs to walk. About 2 hours to ride it if I start from home (adds a few miles)
02/13/2006 06:57:11 PM · #12
The angel peak area is pretty interesting. To me it makes me think of a different planet almost. Here's my one pic from when we went there last fall.
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02/13/2006 07:00:27 PM · #13
Originally posted by MadMan2k:

Whoah - great story, only great because you made it out without injuries though. Wouldn't be good to be stuck out there overnight this time of year without some gear.

Nice pictures too, I've never shot that area but I've been there (I live outside of Aztec, like 30 miles away). I've seen one very nice photo of the area that was before sunrise - the tones in the rocks are really different without the harsh lighing and shadows on them.

Have you ever been to the Alien Run mountain bike trail outside of Aztec? It goes into Hart canyon (I think), some really pretty scenery there. It's pretty long if you're not riding though, probably like 4-5hrs to walk. About 2 hours to ride it if I start from home (adds a few miles)


Yeah...the thing of it is. I never intended to even climb down into it. Just went a little further everytime until it was too late.

Isn't Hart canyon near Largo canyon? I mostly take pictures in and around Farmington- Berg Park,Farmington Lake,Hespurus,Mesa Verde,Blanco,Bisti Hwy,Angle Peak(but not down in it anymore),Shiprock and lots of other local places. I don't have a 4x4 but I will get one soon. And then I will be free to go just about anywhere. I do have a mountain bike....but only ridden it just behind the college.
02/13/2006 07:21:34 PM · #14
haha...I never intended to get my truck stuck in a place like that either...'bout 15 years ago I was going to go just to where there was no more natural gravel in the road I knew better than to go further in a 2WD, take my pics and leave. All was fine until I went to leave. That clay is also very slippery when wet and most of the dirt roads around here have some of it in them. Even tho I was still in tthe natural cobble it was still real slick and when I started to back back out to the place that was safe to turn around and then the truck just started sliding sideways I was only going about 3 MPH but I got just a wee bit off center and gravity took over!!! Slid right into the ditch on the side and was STUCK..didn't even try to get out 'cause I knew it would just make me more stuck! I walked a mile to a phone and got a parent to bring out the 4WD and pull me out.....

Ahhh, that hazards of clay! When it's dry it's so hard my horse doesn't even leave a scuff mark on it but wet..... if it isn't a hazards, it will create future hazards like the sinkholes.
02/13/2006 07:23:27 PM · #15
Reminds me of a similar experience I had one time...

I was with family and friends on a campout up along the Little North Fork of the Santiam River in the Cascades Mountains of Oregon. We camped on a beautiful, picturesque spot along the river.

I awoke very early the next morning before anyone else to the sounds of the river. There was a chill in the air so I decided to hike to the top of a hill I saw on the other side. I told no one. It looked innocent enough.

There was no trail and about an hour into the hike it started to get very steep. But I had plenty of foliage and rocks to hold onto and I could see it was not much further up, so I kept going. I was engrossed in the climb and wanted to get to the summit so pushed onward, just looking upward toward my goal the whole time.

When within 15 feet of the top I slipped and grabbed hold of loose roots to stop my fall. I was dangling. That is when I noticed just a few feet away from me was the TOP of a full grown douglas fir tree. Douglas fir are the second tallest trees on Earth and often well over 100 feet tall, only redwoods are taller.

I looked around and to my horror it was practically straight down on every side. Severe vertigo struck. At that moment I understood exactly how a cat feels after running up a tree.

Petrified and barely holding on by two hands, I visualized myself tumbling to my death, never to be heard from again. I scrambled for my life. I lived in absolute terror for about 45 minutes while inching my way slowly back down to safe footing. Then I hiked back to camp.

Exhauted after my ordeal, I crossing the river and collapsed near our long dormant campfire.

Only then did I notice the others were not even awake yet!
02/13/2006 08:03:59 PM · #16
Dude! Pictures good! Falling in sinkholes, not so good. :-)

02/13/2006 10:00:04 PM · #17
Originally posted by stdavidson:

Reminds me of a similar experience I had one time...

Note to Self: If you ever shoot outdoors with Steve, follow him carefully. :)


02/13/2006 10:09:08 PM · #18
Originally posted by micknewton:

Originally posted by stdavidson:

Reminds me of a similar experience I had one time...

Note to Self: If you ever shoot outdoors with Steve, follow him carefully. :)


Notw to self: if Ever following Micknewton who is following Steve, turn around and get an ambulance before they both die.
02/13/2006 10:19:03 PM · #19
Originally posted by DustDevil:

Well to say that I haven't taken risks when I was shooting for challenges would be an understatement.

I really like AP-1.jpg, but there are probably safer ways of getting into places like that. It's good to know you made it back alive. :)


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