Edging my way along the mountainside and grasping the rope tightly, I made steady progress along the path. It was slow going at points, but patient persistence and the occasional pause to pull myself together made for a pleasant hike.
Eventually, the cliff side to my right smoothed out and a strip of soft green grass ran along that side of the path instead. The grass sloped gently about fifty feet from the trail then returned to the sharp drop of the cliff. I could still throw a rock over the edge, but the grass hill gave me a bit of breathing room, and made me feel secure on the mountainside. The path itself never widened of course, it stayed as narrow as ever, but just a few steps off the path presented no real danger.
I began to whistle my favorite tune and found a spring to throw into my step. The views available on this section of path were wonderful. Of course, the grassy knoll obscured my view of the beautiful valley below me, and I wondered what the river looked like from this height. However, the lakes and mountains in the distance, slightly obscured by low-flying clouds, satisfied me for now.
I paused here and there along the path and took a step or two onto the grass. It was turning from a pleasant hike into a marvelous one. At one point I sat down with my back on the hillside and decided to take my shoes off to curl my feet into the soft blades of grass. I had been walking for a few hours and my soles enjoyed the refreshment.
As I sat on the hillside and made fists with my toes I glanced forward and back down the path. There were no signs of travelers. My mind wandered again to the large footprints in the soft ground at the very beginning of the path, down by the small gate. Where were these giants of the hike? I wondered. Knowing no one was around, I chuckled to myself then yelled out over the cliff, “Helloooooo!”
My echo yelled back at me softly, “hellooooooo”
“Where are the giants?” I yelled over the cliff.
“where are the giants?” my echo whispered back. I laughed at the faint voice returning my question.
As I sat staring, my curiosity won me over, and I strode barefoot down the hill to the cliff-side, leaving my pack and shoes in the grass by the path. I had been right. The view of the valley was breath taking. The deep blue river spun its course below, and beams of sunlight cast beautiful shadows onto the valley floor. Just enough water sprung off the river for a faint rainbow to be seen arching between the base of the cliff and mountains across the way. I was mesmerized by the sight and instinctively raced back up the hill to get my camera from my pack. I thought, I can’t keep a sight this wonderful to myse-
The thought was left unfinished because my shoeless feet had slipped on the soft dewy grass. I suddenly became more keenly aware of the steepness of the grass hill, as I was unable to stop myself from rolling down it. I was gaining speed and heading straight for the cliff side.
My eyes spun frantically around. Sky. Grass. Sky. Grass. Sky. Grass. Ouch, rock.
I felt my knees bend downward and realized I was at the cliff edge. My backside slipped over the ledge, followed by my stomach. I flung my arms out desperately grasping for the edge.
Incredibly, I caught hold.
I was dangling over the edge of the largest cliff I had ever seen. The view I had found so beautiful became absolutely terrifying when viewed at only a few feet closer. It’s amazing how something that looks so good at one moment can be absolutely terrifying in another.
I reached up with my other hand and finagled my way around to face the cliff. Suddenly my refusal to do pull-ups in gym class haunted me. I tried twice to pull myself onto the ledge, but it was no use. I didn’t have the strength. I tried once to walk my left leg up the rock face to get leverage, but my slipping grip dissuaded me from a second attempt.
I had to come up with something fast. My arms would not hold out forever. Desperate, I yelled at the top of my voice, “Heeeeeeelp!”
“heeeeeelp” whispered my echo. It was a lot less funny now.
“HELP ME!” I yelled again as my left pinky left the ledge.
“help me” whispered my echo.
“Where are the giants?!” I screamed, as my right pinky joined its brother in mid air.
“where are the giants” my echo taunted.
As it did, the sun was blocked out by a huge frame standing on the ledge. A man who looked about seven feet tall peered over the ledge and spoke with a calming English accent, “Pardon me sir, but would you care for some assistance?”
This story is continued in The Gate is Small (Pt. 4)