Nery Solano

Story Time with Nery

The Eastern Sierras are littered with mines; remnants of the Californa gold rush. On one of my hikes, I stumbled upon one of these mines and that is where my tale begins.

Headlights strapped to our heads, my friends and I confidently ventured past the "do not enter sign" (as many good adventures begin). As we walked into the blackness, our breath steamed out of our mouths. The temperature dropping as the light behind us faded away. Half an hour later, the dot of sunlight that was the entrance flickered to nothing as it was overtaken by the black.

The three beams of our headlights continued on when all of a sudden the tunnel opened up into a grand cavern. The floor, littered with thousands of core samples, like little granite pillars scattered all over the floor. There, in the center zig-zagging its way up the face of the cavern, stood a series of ladders leading to the top.

My companions on this trip begin to climb, without hesitation (I was full of hesitation). I followed. As I made my way up, the age of these ladders became apparent. This mine had been abandoned since the times of the gold rush, easily around 100 years old. I climb, the floor moving further and further away, I near the top of the third and final ladder.

My stomach, sink or knots (I don't know what my stomach did), as the rung my foot was on disintegrates under my weight. I am falling now. Each following rung that I attempt to grab snaps to pieces. My mind empties (no flashes of my life, no memories - just emptiness).

I continue to reach for anything, the rock wall offering to handholds, my chest hits a large wooden cross beam supporting the ladder structure. I am hanging there, staring at the floor below. I yell at my friends some words I will not repeat in polite company. As always, laughter quickly followed echoing throughout the cavern.

When I entered the mine, I thought the darkness would be the thing I feared most. I would have never imagined that heights would have been involved. (Never assume).

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