Beaten By a Dead Horse

Recently I decided to explore the Dead Horse trail that branches off of the popular Hanging Lake trail in Glenwood Canyon.  In all honesty, “trail” is a term only loosely applied to Dead Horse – really, it’s a literal uphill climb through miniature rockslides and legitimate cliff faces.

Someone – I’m assuming a team of forest rangers – had the foresight to extend some really long, knotted bungee cords down the most difficult parts. Even with the bungee cord, a steep earthen sluice full of loose gravel isn’t the trail I expected. If the trip up isn’t tough enough, the trip DOWN consists of creating an avalanche and riding it down.

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Back when I wrote outdoor columns for the Eagle Times in Claremont, N.H., I  frequently advised readers never to be too proud to turn around. After advancing  about two body-lengths up the side of a cliff, I took stock of my situation and decided to take my own advice.

PLUS: I have plenty of water. I’m not tired yet.

MINUS: I’ve already twisted my ankle. Nobody knows where I am. Getting safely  back down this cliff will be considerably harder than getting up it. If I break my leg  getting down this cliff, getting back down the first bungee cord will be even harder.

Without proper equipment, I rappelled down the side of the cliff using the bungee cord. I cut my hand up a bit, but I made it down. While rolling back down the rockslide in a mini-avalanche, I took a flying rock to the back of my leg  pretty hard.  Once again, I made it down in one piece. That’s about the only victory I can claim here.

This isn’t over, though. I need to do some research, then come back with a hiking buddy and a pair of gloves. The irony of being beaten by a Dead  Horse just doesn’t sit well with me.

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