I arrived at the park after a four hour drive. I had been looking forward to this trip for a very long time. The air was fresh, the scenery spectacular, and it was a beautiful sunny day.
As I often do, I started down the trail alone. But I soon encountered a young woman along the path. She had a pleasing, natural appearance and she smiled brightly as I approached. I struck up a conversation and then asked her if she would like to join me on my hike.
It was a steep climb, but we were both in excellent condition. As we walked, she told me about her life: her recent divorce, her struggles with money, her extra job to put her children through college. This was an adventure she had wished to embark upon for several years - a chance to break away and assert her independence.
We continued to walk and talk and laugh our way up the trail. Then we decided to take one of the scenic side trails to get a better view of the canyon.
As we approached the edge of the canyon, the trail became very narrow and rocky. I heard a short scream behind me and I turned quickly to see her hanging from a tree branch with her feet dangling over the cliff.
In retrospect, I realize she could have easily pulled herself back onto the trail unassisted. But I reached out my hand to her and she accepted my assistance. In that moment, I suddenly became aware that I could turn this situation to my advantage, and I let her go.
After two hours of climbing, I found her body on the rocks below. I rifled through her pack and I eventually found a five dollar bill. This, I slid into my pocket and then I left.
On the journey home, I passed a small town coffee shop. I stopped in and ordered one of their fancier coffee drinks. The price: $4.95. I sat on the balcony and took in the fresh air and scenery while I sipped my well earned drink. It was delightful. I do sometimes enjoy the finer things in life.