April 3, 2013

127 Hour Syndrome

By Andrew at 12:22 PM

Being single is tough. There are all sorts of activities out there that would be fun to participate in, but they can be unsafe when approached alone. I recently watched a film by Danny Boyle called “127 Hours,” a movie about a guy who went out into the desert wilderness, all alone, and ended up becoming stuck out there for several days without anyone realizing he was missing. While I have not been faced with such a situation so far, the premise hit close to home as I sometimes find myself going for hikes alone.

In short, “127 Hours” is about the period of time an adventurous, reckless guy spends in the desert, stuck in a canyon and without a way to contact anyone for assistance. He failed to let anyone know where he was going, in fact, disregarding a message asking him to call his mother before he left. Therefore he was utterly alone, without hope of anyone coming along to look for him after he slipped and became stuck beneath a boulder. I should mention at this point that the film is fairly graphic in some places because (spoiler alert!) even though he makes it out of the situation alive, the circumstances surrounding his survival and escape are rather gruesome.

Now, I do not journey out into the desert alone, and the places I go hiking are really rather tame. The parks that I visit all have relatively well-maintained trails, and they are generally well-traveled due to the proximity to such a large population center. However, after watching “127 Hours,” I have started leaving notes in my apartment if I am going somewhere that may not be immediately obvious. Also, I am sure to always carry my phone with me since, while there is not always reception in some of these places, reception is as close as making my way to the top of the next ridge in most cases. And I have been reassured through a couple of situations that even if i were to go missing, co-workers and friends would realize that I was not around and begin attempting to contact me fairly quickly.

I do not want to sound paranoid in this post, but it is worthwhile to consider how easily unexpected situations come up that could have been prevented, or at least mitigated. A simple phone call, a note, or even visiting a more populated area can be all it takes to ensure that your absence will be noticed in a timely manner or that someone will be around to help should an issue arise. Regardless, I am still rejuvenated from a solitary hike, but now I am a little more intentional about leaving indicators regarding where I am headed and when I should be expected to return by. As cool as it may sound, I do not want to become the source material for a sequel.

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