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THE "EXTRAORDINARY" ( Booklist ) No. 1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER-THE "HARROWING" ( The Washington Post ) SURVIVOR'S MEMOIR YOU WILL NEVER FORGET Aron Ralston, an experienced twenty-seven-year-old outdoorsman, was on a day's solitary hike through a remote and narrow Utah canyon when he dislodged an eight-hundred- pound boulder that crushed his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall. Emerging from the searing pain, Aron found himself completely stuck. No one knew where he was; no one was coming to rescue him. With scant water and food, and a cheap pocketknife his only tool, he eliminated his options one by one. On the fifth night, wracked by delirium and uncontrollable shivers, Aron scratched his epitaph into the rock wall, certain he would not see daylight. Yet with the new morning came an epiphany: if he could use the rock's vise-like hold to break his arm bones, his blunted pocketknife could serve as a surgeon's blade. . . .
Chapter One: "Geologic Time Includes Now" This is the most beautiful place on earth. There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, known or unknown, actual or visionary....There's no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment. Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from up above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space. For myself I'll take Moab, Utah. I don't mean the town itself, of course, but the country which surrounds it -- the canyonlands. The slickrock desert. The red dust and the burnt cliffs and the lonely sky -- all that which lies beyond the end of the roads. -- Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire Fraying contrails streak another bluebird sky above the red desert plateau, and I wonder how many sunburnt days these badlands have seen since their creation. It's Saturday morning, April 26, 2003, and I am mountain biking by myself on a scraped dirt road in the far southeastern corner of Emery County, in central-eastern Utah. An hour ago, I left my truck at the dirt trailhead parking area for Horseshoe Canyon, the isolated geographic window of Canyonlands National Park that sits fifteen air miles northwest of the legendary Maze District, forty miles southeast of the great razorback uplift of the San Rafael Swell, twenty miles west of the Green River, and some forty miles south of I-70, that corridor of commerce and last chances (next services: 110 miles). With open tablelands to cover for a hundred miles between the snowcapped ranges of the Henrys to the southwest -- the last range in the U.S. to be named, explored, and mapped -- and the La Sals to the east, a strong wind is blowing hard from the south, the direction I'm heading. Besides slowing my progress to a crawl -- I'm in my lowest gear and pumping hard on a flat grade just to move forward -- the wind has blown shallow drifts of maroon sand onto the washboarded road. I try to avoid the drifts, but occasionally, they blanket the entire road, and my bike founders. Three times already I've had to walk through particularly long sand bogs. The going would be much easier if I didn't have this heavy pack on my back. I wouldn't normally carry twenty-five pounds of supplies and equipment on a bike ride, but I'm journeying out on a thirty-mile-long circuit of biking and canyoneering -- traversing the bottom of a deep and narrow canyon system -- and it will take me most of the day. Besides a gallon of water stored in an insulated three-liter CamelBak hydration pouch and a one-liter Lexan bottle, I have five chocolate bars, two burritos, and a chocolate muffin in a plastic grocery sack in my pack
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