A Dance with the Delicate Arch

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A cool breeze fights its way through the dry desert heat and stops my mind and body instantly.

I feel dizzy, not sure which way is up or down. It’s a perfect day for hiking as slow or as fast as I want. But on these rocky trails, I push harder with each step as we ascend to the Delicate Arch. Thank god for that breeze. It’s the only thing my senses can relate to here.

On this mile and a half hike, I’m reminded to relax as my heart beats faster 4,000 feet above sea level. Though I’ve climbed higher and further before, there’s a definite sense of danger here, with so much more for my attention to grab on to. To describe what I see as a view, would be an understatement at the very least.

After over an hour of climbing with my hands and feet, I don’t even know if I’m on Earth anymore. I stop again, try to breathe deep, and search for the horizon.

Everything is blanketed with mile-high, dusty red rocks that defy gravity and force me to contemplate reality. I lean into the closest one. With nothing t hold on too, I melt into it as I begin sliding down its flat face, hoping I won’t defy gravity too.

That’s when I hear the birds, then realize they are soaring below me. Before I can grab my bearings, my heart drops into the canyon below, my eyes narrowing in on a new perspective of the Arch. Immediately, I am blinded by the burst and my instinct is to drawback.

Back against the rock, I feel like my eyes are deceiving me as search again for something to focus on. Something to make sense of. The fear of falling, makes my whole body shake and I remember again to breathe, just feel. But there’s no edge, no cliff, no. nothing.

But I have to get this shot!

The dance with death continues as I slowly reach for my camera. Am I floating?

Am I still here? I don’t feel the ground. My heart pounds as I search for stillness with nothing to grab on to, I wish could just lean out a little further.


Danielle Werner, 2018

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