Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The sad lessons of life and death

It was bothering me all day. A story in the news yesterday about a young man, Siaosi Brown, age 22, who was killed when he slipped trying to cross a waterfall in Bells Canyon. So sad that a life was taken away that young. So sad that it happens nearly every year in that particular canyon that someone takes a risk they shouldn't take and loses their life. I know that risk, because a few years ago, I was tempted myself.
The water in that area in some places flows through narrow channels, narrow enough that someone with enough ability could jump across. Wanting to get onto those rocks on the other side makes the temptation that much stronger. You want to see if you can do it. That is your only thought--making it across.


The day I nearly tried it, I sat there and looked at it for fifteen minutes trying to decide if I could do it or not. The thing is, the rocks that you want to jump onto across the narrow stream are sloped. The water, especially during spring runoff, is swift and the channels, more like water slides than you could possibly believe. One slip and you are in the water, being pushed along with nothing to grab onto--no way to stop yourself before...
There is a drop off. It isn't extremely high--nothing like Yellowstone Falls, for example, either in height or water volume. But falling off of that 30-40 foot falls is enough to hurt you badly, so that you would likely be unconscious by the time you hit bottom and end up drowning.
Yellowstone Falls
After fifteen minutes of trying to find a safe way to cross that day, I gave it up. There is risk, and there is stupid risk. A person can have a lot of fun without succumbing to the temptations of stupidity. As for me, choosing not to do the stupid, has kept me alive for many more adventures. Turning back when I wasn't sure of my actions preserved me for many more hikes, camping trips, and picnics.
I would like to encourage those reading this to never take unnecessary chances when it comes to waterfalls, and be careful around water in general. A few years ago there was another such accident when a young man tried to wade across Big Cottonwood Creek during runoff. Don't let it be you.

7 comments:

Thomas E S Thomas said...

So what do you suppose the solution in Bells Canyon should be? In Bear Canyon in Draper they built a suspension bridge.

Linda said...

Nice, Shane-- thank you for sharing your thoughts. He and the rescuers have been on my mind all day. Seeing pictures of them going into the falls was chilling.

Josh Korpi said...

We all have moments of weakness or bad decision making, ideally experience helps keep us alive and guide us.....very very sad RIP.

Shane Roe said...

Thomas, I don't have any proposals other than people using common sense. I think we all have made bad choices that could have led to the same kind of consequences as this tragedy, but didn't for whatever reason. I think Josh hit the nail on the head with his "we all have moments of weakness or bad decision making". That is so true. Thankfully, most of us learn from our early mistakes and don't repeat them.

Unknown said...

I have been at that spot above the Falls and jumped across several times. The actual jump was probably only about 7 feet and on a flat dry surface not intimidating at all. But before I had ever hiked to the Falls I heard the story of the school teacher on a first date that was swept over and died so my adrenaline level was sky high. There are many many places where you take your life in your hands. I don't believe there is one "solution." Maybe a small permanent sign (there is one on Angel's Landing approach) that says "use caution, people have died here." You just can't keep people from taking risks in a dangerous world.

Shane Roe said...

Exactly right, Unknown...and I would never want to keep people from taking risks. I still take them myself. My purpose in my post was to urge people to use caution and common sense, not to keep them from ever being risky. Do you think the jump was only seven feet considering the amount of runoff this time of year?

Shane Roe said...

And here's my views on adventure in general. http://smaugsmusings.blogspot.com/2015/06/adventure.html