Salt Can Heal All Wounds | Jenilee Chen


Salt Can Heal All Wounds

Jenilee Chen

Don McCrady Invitational Award

“Like falling in love again, it stings like hell at first, but I promise it helps” Grandma Cauley simpered as she slowly spooned the rough rock salt into the mug of warm water. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t stop myself from grimacing as the salt mixture seeped into my exposed, raw skin. My fearless attitude towards accepting impossible challenges had rarely landed me in trouble this large.

It had all started last summer, when I had been transfixed by the rows of spiky cactus lining the bottom of a ravine. “If you was stuck there,” joked my cousin Glavin, “you would stay there forever, unless you used your teeth as spikes, and your hair as a rope and pulley.” An avid climber then, I had been eager to cut my teeth on a harder challenge. Growing up in Yosemite National Park, I had spent my summers facing off some of the world’s steepest climbs, Leaning Tower and El Capitan. The sheer, vertical rock faces almost made this sandy drop off look laughable. Or so I thought.

Determined to prove Glavin wrong, I returned the following summer to rappel down the edge. With my rope harness tucked securely around my hips I landed, cat-like, between two particularly hairy cactuses. As I began my ascent, I misjudged the distance between two particularly sharp rock ledges. As I shifted my weight between my foot holds, I slipped a few inches too short of the ledge, forcing my shin to scrape badly against the wall. Six-inches of bleeding like a waterfall later, I quickly ripped off a layer of my shirt to create a makeshift tourniquet. Two hours later, I returned triumphantly home.

As far as Glavin knows, the climb went smoothly and I am the world’s most fearless climber.

Don McCrady Invitational Award