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Monday was Labor Day, a holiday. I was going to be off work and home alone. I woke up early for a day off really motivated to get up and get out to the North Sulfur River (NSR), but I was feeling a bit lazy. I didn’t want to wear myself out too much. I am on call all week and being worn out isn’t a good way to start being on call if you have to stay up all night working. I had not been out to the NSR since June, because I nearly did myself in last trip with heat exhaustion. I had plenty of fluids, but the 100 degree heat with no shade was too much for me. Anyway, the weather on Monday was pretty decent. The heat was bearable. Rain was in the forecast. There was a tropical storm spinning off inland and we were having storms from that. I got ready and drove the 1:20 minutes to my favorite bridge outside of Ladonia. I arrived about 9:00. Rain was predicted to start about 11:00. I didn’t know how bad it would be or how long it would last. So, I figured I had about 2 hours to get some hunting in. Entering the NSR can be a challenge along most of the section of river which was channeled back in the early 1900s. The banks are about 30 feet high and mostly vertical. Normally I enter from the south side of the bridge, but it seems everyone I know who goes there enters from the north side. I thought I’d try that entrance for once. I parked my car along a narrow path next to the guardrail near the bridge. I got out and got my gear ready. Before putting on my pack I walked out to the edge of the precipice of the bank and looked down to the riverbed 30 feet below. To my left was the bridge. I saw a ridiculously steep (80 degrees) path, if you could call it that, plummeting down into the river. I thought “No way! You’ve got to be kidding me!!!” It looked more like a wash and going down it would be more like falling or repelling if I had a rope. There was no way I could come back up that with a 40-50 pound pack. Plus I didn’t have a rope with me. Hum, maybe I need to add rope to my NSR gear list. I am not a rock climbing type girl. I am around a soft 50% marshmallow consistency. There isn’t a whole lot of muscle on me. I am all adventure and no brawn. This is a picture of the river from the top of the bank. IT is not the best pic, but you get the idea that it is a long way down. You can't really see the wash, but it starts behind the pillar on the left and runs behind that bush straight down to the bottom. I turned to walk back to my car and drive over to my usual entrance, but as I turned I saw an opening in the dense undergrowth. I walked towards it. There was a rope tied to a tree at the top of the hill. It was strung downhill and attached to another sapling 20 feet below. It wasn’t much of a rope, less than 1 cm thick with infrequent, small knots of maybe 1 cm in size. They would not be much to grab onto. It would help getting down for sure and it looked strong enough, but man was it steep (60 degreeish)!! It was really steep for about 20 feet or so and then leveled off for a bit and then there was some concrete rubble in the wash that ran along the path. From the level area you had to drop down about 3 feet and then walk the rubble to the riverbed. There was only one sizeable (2 inches) sapling to grab at or break your fall with on the 20 foot part. There were numerous saplings and a poison ivy vine that were ¼- ½ inch thick. There was a rebar type stake sticking up about 8 inches from the ground maybe 5 feet down the hill, I assume for a foothold of sorts. It looked like someone had tried to notch some steps into the hill with a shovel every 3 feet or so, but they were eroded so barely of any use anymore. I think I must be crazy, or ridiculously overdue for an adventure. It has been 3 months since I’d been to the NSR after all. I decided to go ahead and try it. I hoped I would not live to regret my choice. I went and got my pack, which was already about 15 pounds with my 4 pound sledge hammer, rock hammer, drinking fluids, my 40 caliber pistol (protection from wild hogs) and other gear. I put my pack on and walked to the edge of the hill. I took one step and slid. I was wearing tennis shoes with only a little tread. I turned around, went back to my car and put on my hiking boots. I tried going down the hill facing forward, but couldn’t do it. So I turned around and grabbed the rope and wrapped it around my hand and began to lower myself down backwards. In retrospect I can see I clearly did not think my exit strategy out. I will post another part in a couple minutes..