Gravel slips away below me, down the steep incline. It reminds me of the sound of a rain stick; a gentle rush that belies the danger.


I freeze. Every muscle tenses. I flatten my belly against the shifting stone, spread my limbs out like a starfish, digging my hands and feet into the shifting surface. Carefully, I tilt my head. The distance I have come is too great to warrant retreat. Nearly 200 yards to the ground on this pile and only around 30 feet to solid ground leading to the summit path. I know that turning and sliding with the rocks would be easy, even fun. I’m not done yet, though.

The gravel begins to slip again. I stop moving and flatten myself completely. I lay, hugging the earth with my wide arms. I giggle, take a breath and carefully move one limb at a time, digging each appendage into the stone and using the three anchors to halt any backward slide.

Slowly, I make progress toward solid ground and the path I seek. The first grasp of soil is like the edge of a swimming pool as I place both hands firmly on it and haul myself up. I sit on the edge and stare back down the slope of sliding stones, laughing at my own success.