After the Flood

After the Flood

The last week and a half have been a wild ride.

What began as a normal day of canyoneering, nearly turned lethal. If descending the canyon had taken five more minutes, people would have died.  I could have been responsible for the loss of three other’s lives, and potentially putting at risk a Search and Rescue team as well.

The weight of that responsibility, even though everyone is safe, has been heavy on me.

The experience itself was absolutely terrifying, the scariest hour of my life. I’ve been replaying the event in my mind (and watching the youtube video) over and over again. I’ve been churning through all the things I would do differently, all the small mistakes and judgement calls that added up that nearly meant our death.

Death. That too, perhaps most of all, has been on my mind. I could very easily not be here to type these words. For over an hour, pinned under a roaring waterfall, my body slowly losing its heat, I contemplated if I would make it out. I wondered if all of us would die, that someone would come across my GoPro and and be able to watch my last minutes alive, to see what I saw when death took me.

Three days ago I posted a video on Youtube about the ordeal.

 

In a matter of hours, two national news sources picked it up and contacted me for interviews.

Here’s The Weather Channel’s segment

Here’s RightThisMinute’s version.

In 48 hours, the Youtube video had been watched over 70,000 times. Someone posted it on Reddit, where it has become a forum for bashing people’s beliefs (you can hear me praying in the video). Many have commented saying how amazing of an event this was and how lucky we are to be alive (which is accurate). People have been saying how dumb we were for being in that canyon at all that day (which is accurate).

In many ways, I am stunned. It has been a lot to take it.

Through all of it, I have been thinking a lot. Here are some of my thoughts.

–  Above all, I am thankful. I am thankful to God for his protection. I called upon the Rock that is higher than I, and He protected me. While I was pinned under the waterfall, tucked into a crack of a massive boulder that was receiving the brunt of the force of the water pouring down from 300 feet above, I couldn’t help but think of the verse “He is my rock, and my salvation.”

–  I made mistakes. There were many decisions throughout the day that should have gone differently. It would be a shame if I do not learn from those mistakes. I have an opportunity to take what I learned and carry it forward. If I can be humble and introspective, I can see what I did wrong, accept responsibility, and learn. This lesson is not just for the outdoors, but for all aspects of my life.

–  I have a purpose. I believe God saved me and my companions for a reason. As one of my friends said, “You owe the universe one.” This experience reinforces and refreshes the notion that my life is meant for something. My hope is that I can be contemplative and honest with myself. That I will not settle for what is easy and comfortable. I hope I can live a God-honoring life that enriches the lives of others. That I can pursue a life well lived.

Photographer, filmmaker, journalist, adventurer. I'm somewhere, maybe Flagstaff, AZ.

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10 comments on this post

  1. Melissa Wiebe

    says:
    September 8, 2013

    great thoughts! thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Eric Hanson

      says:
      September 8, 2013

      Thanks Melissa!

      Reply
  2. Marcy Dawson

    says:
    September 8, 2013

    Good lessons learned, Eric. You have never been the type to push that line between adventure and danger. Maybe you were getting a little too close to it and it was time to step back and re-evaluate. Looks like you’ve done that 🙂 Love you!!

    Reply
  3. Bruce Dawson

    says:
    September 8, 2013

    Eric, God can use so many experiences to grow us and teach us. I have watched that video numerous times and can’t imagine what it was like for you guys. I am one that believes that He heard and answered that prayer. And I so appreciate that He did!!

    Reply
  4. John Sohl

    says:
    September 10, 2013

    Hi Eric,

    This past summer I took a Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) hosted SAR course in canyoneering SAR. I find your video to be amazing. I would like to use it for training purposes for my Weber County Sheriff’s SAR (Ogden, UT) team.
    If you would allow that, I’d like to be able to download a more native version of the clip rather than trying to do it over youtube.
    I, too, have had a few harrowing experiences (on mountains and multi-day big wall climbs, not canyoneering) and have a good idea of what you are going through as you rethink the experience.
    Thank you,
    John

    Reply
    • Eric Hanson

      says:
      September 18, 2013

      Hey John,
      Great, I’ll email you about this. Thanks!

      Reply
  5. Janet Hart

    says:
    September 10, 2013

    Eric! I am your Gram Jane’s friend from SBC…we always sit together. I read your book from cover to cover and relished your account of all your adventures around the world. Having lived in Africa, that part was of particular interest and I could relate to what you wrote. What a wonderful experience…..one that every young American should undertake but few ever will. It brought you closer to God but also taught you many lessons that will follow you throughout your life……most of all, discoveries about yourself and your place in the world. When I heard of your “latest adventure” and encounter with “The Waterfall”!!! I was aghast, but so thankful you and your friends made it through. I have been meaning to jot you a little Thank You Note after reading your book and although this is very late in coming…..it is most sincerely meant. Wishing you all the best in your next venture!! but please…..do stay away from waterfalls for awhile!! Janet

    Reply
    • Eric Hanson

      says:
      September 18, 2013

      Thank you for your kind words Janet! I’m honored. If you sit with Jane then I am sure I will meet you when I am in Phoenix some time. Thanks again.

      Reply
  6. Steve

    says:
    September 12, 2013

    Behunin is a bad canyon, I’ve always had trouble with it. I got a rope stuck on the “third” rap once. I don’t know if I ever want to go back.

    Reply
    • Eric Hanson

      says:
      September 18, 2013

      I’m not sure if I would call it a bad canyon, but it has certainly had its fair share of epic stories coming from there this year. You’re not the only one to get a rope stuck in there, scary stuff.

      Reply

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