By Aron Ralston
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Additional info for 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Looking up to my right, a foot above the top of the boulder on the north wall, I see tiny wads of my flesh, pieces of my arm hair, and stains of my blood streaked on the sandstone. In dragging my arm down the wall, the boulder and smooth Navajo sandstone acted like a grater, scraping off my skin’s outer layers in thin strips. Peering at the bottom of my arm, I check for more blood, but there is none, not even a lone drip. As I bring my head back up, I bump the bill of my hat, and my sunglasses fall onto my pack at my feet.
Squirming my way over small chockstones, I stem my body across the gap between the walls to follow the plunging canyon floor. There is a log wedged in the slot at one point, and I use it like a ladder on a smooth section of the skinny-people-only descent. While the day up above the rim rock is getting warmer, the air down in the canyon becomes cooler as we enter a four-hundred-yard-long section of the canyon where the walls are over two hundred feet high but only fifteen feet apart. Sunlight never reaches the bottom of this slot.
To judge from what I’ve seen on my ride, there are few significant differences in this area between Blue John Griffith’s day and the present. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has graded the century-old horse trail and added scattered signposts, but even the ubiquitous fences that partition the rest of the West are noticeably absent. Perhaps it’s the lack of barbed wire that makes this place feel so terrifically remote. I spend a lot of time in out-of-the-way areas—two or three days a week in designated wildernesses, even through the winter—but most of them don’t feel half as isolated as this back road.