Before we made it to the top, my bro-Mikey, Seashell and I kept our eyes open for passageways through the brush, off the trail, in the direction of the cliffs. Each one we went down was more intense than the one before. Some were so sketchy that my stomach flipped over inside of me, and I thought I would get sick through my unstoppable smile. I’m not scared of heights, but I was nonetheless exhilarated by being a misstep away from a free fall and likely an end. Obviously the adrenaline junky in me enjoyed leaving the trail, but so did other parts.
When we made it to the top, to the prescribed viewing areas, they didn’t do much for us. Sure, there was the cable-wall that made it feel a little too safe, but the views weren’t as good as the ones we found on our own. After visiting each viewing area with the hope that any of them would top the off-trail edges, I couldn’t wait to head back the way I had came. Screw the rest of the loop, I thought. I want the chilling, breathtaking views that people pass by every day – the views that are screaming for our attention, dying to inspire us.
I was able to convince a couple from Georgia to check them out. I am sure they thought, “should we really follow this guy with the bizarre mustache and crazed look in his eyes off a trail and to the edge of a cliff?” But they did follow me, to three spots, and they thanked me so sincerely that I felt it deeply. It was the type of thanks that you don’t get often in life, the sincere thanks that comes from every fiber of one’s being, all at once. Seashell, Mikey and I were able to bring aunts Donna, Lala, cousin Vicki, and mom-dukes-Tammy off the trail to one of the spots, and while I know it scared three of the four of them to see us down at the edge, I know they got a sense of the wahoo in our bellies, and that is a drug you can’t buy.
Leaving those spots behind, my first feeling was that of pity for those who stay on the trail. I thought, “I would be better off falling, than those who never get near the edge.” My feelings mellowed over the past week, maturing into something more like appreciation. I am so thankful to have been given the courage to leave the path. I am awed by others who leave their paths, and I am honored by anyone who would go against their instincts of self-preservation and follow me.