Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rock Climbing in the Shadows on the Trail Trilogy

Some people contend that our individual personalities are molded from our past experiences. My three books of the Shadows on the Trail Trilogy came from my research on prehistoric cultures, my imagination, and my past experiences.  The rock climbing episodes in the first and second books came mostly from my past experiences. 

Figure Two.
I took the dialogue below (in blue) from Chapter 9 of Shadows on the Trail where a villainous tribe has forced the women and children slaves of another tribe to scale a granite rock wall in the haunted Spirit Rock Canyon. Add in a death-defying waterfall right next to the rock wall and a long fall into the river below and it should translate into compelling drama. That is if I am any good at writing at all!  
When I wrote Chapter 9, I envisioned a rock wall similar to the rock wall in Figure two, but not quite so steep. I would tell you how the story of the rock wall ends up in the book, but I better let you read Shadows on the Trail to find out for yourself. Let me introduce you to the characters in the dialogue below. Ayasha was a young orphan girl in the captured tribe and Namid was a strong young woman from the same tribe who was watching out for Ayasha.         
Ayasha was the next climber. She hesitated to take the first breathtaking step onto the rock wall, right above the vertical cliff. Ayasha looked down at the cloud of mist rising above the river. Namid gently placed her hands on Ayasha’s waist.
            “You will be all right!” Namid told her. “I will be right behind you!”         
            “I am scared!”
            “We are both scared, but we must do this!”
            The rope around Ayasha tightened as the prisoner climbing in front of her had reached the rope’s limit.
            “You must go, Ayasha!” Namid pleaded.
           Ayasha touched the rock wall with her fingers, searching for a finger hold. Finally, she stepped out onto the rock wall, her legs shaking. She took a step, hesitated, and then took another step. 
           “Good, Ayasha! See how easy it is!” Namid said, praising the small girl. “I am right behind you!”
          Ayasha took several more steps up the rock wall with Namid climbing closely behind her. Ayasha was almost to the top of the rock wall when she glanced over to her right and spied Chindi, the monstrous waterfall. Ayasha’s muscles froze on the rock wall, under the captivating spell of the waterfall. 
          This rock climbing event in the book came from the personal experience I had with rock climbing in college. Even though I was scared of heights when I was younger, I let a group of friends in college convince me to technically rock climb with them. Over the course of two years, I thought I had cured my fear of heights or that is what I thought. 
         On one particular climb, my friend and I climbed up a vertical crack in the granite rock face to about one hundred feet above the ground. There, the vertical crack disappeared and directly above us the rock face overhung like a massive granite ceiling. We knew we were not skilled enough to climb the overhang and the only way out of the predicament was to find a way around the overhang. To our right was a steep featureless rock wall that wrapped around the side of the overhang. This was our only chance. Our dilemma was that this rock wall was as smooth as glass with only a few small rock crystals to put our boots or fingers on and there was no way to protect against a long fall (we did not bring what are called  rock bolts). Climbing across the rock wall and slipping meant a very long free fall for one of us.  
Figure Three.
      We both tried to climb across the rock wall, but we lacked the intestinal fortitude or mental toughness to handle it. Neither of us had the guts to take a thirty or forty foot teeth-jarring fall before the climbing rope caught us. Then, one hundred feet above the ground, we began panicking and making mental errors.  The rock wall defeated us and we rappelled back to the ground with our tails tucked between our legs. It was a very long time before I went rock climbing again and after that episode, climbing would never be the same.  
        Figure three above is what I envisioned the river looked like from the rock wall that Ayasha and Namid climbed in the above passage from Shadows on the Trail. This is not exactly a reassuring sight, even if you are not the one climbing it.  
        I hope you enjoy Shadows on the Trail and share your thoughts and comments with me and others. Shadows on the Trail is available in paperback and e book at, Barnes and, and many other booksellers. 

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