Is there anybody out there?


“Well, only got an hour of daylight left. Better get started” – Pink Floyd

Night was quickly taking over day as Nick Oswald and I left Road 46 aid station. It was cold on the desert floor and only going to get colder where we were heading, upwards into the La Sal mountains. It’s described as a gradual climb, kind of like cutting your arm off with a dull Swiss army knife is a gradual amputation. It was the first night the skies were clear and as we made our way up, it was like we were heading towards the depths of the universe instead of an aid station. The stars seemed touchable and nearly erased the immense blackness from the sky with their shimmering light. It’s times like this when you appreciate how insignificant you truly are, and how insanely significant your life is. Humans have been asking themselves what the meaning of life is for thousands of years but in that moment I felt like I had that answer. Get Teddy to that next aid station. 

“Isn’t it unsafe to travel at night?” – Pink Floyd

We were somewhere between 167.3 miles and 184.9 miles in the midst of a 3,446 foot climb. It was my third night in the desert and I was operating on roughly 5 hours of sleep. I was an unstable human being navigating a rocky trail, and fighting my incessant need to be in a horizontal position instead of vertical one. I’m not a fan of stopping on climbs but this was not an option, Nick assured me it was necessary. We stopped and Nick and I both turned our headlamps off. We were crushed by the universe. It was vibrating and alive and making me feel incredibly small and exposed and spiritually vulnerable. I asked it out loud, “Teddy, if you are out there show yourself as a shooting star.” What insanity is this the universe must have thought? You humans, always needing proof, validation. But I demanded it, I wanted this benevolent universe to show me Ted was out there. I waited and watched and the stars mockingly stayed in their assigned places. I humbly knew mine.

“It’ll be a lot less safe to stay here, your father’s gunna pick up our trail before long” – Pink Floyd

It was time to go, Nick informed me. Time to get back to climbing. I slowly raised myself from the grip of the mountain and headed up. I had 3 channels I was watching. The Headlamp Channel.  A tunnel of light that keep playing rocks, dirt and my feet. The Holy Shit Channel. When I looked up and couldn’t believe this massive unknown above exists or that i do. The Inside of my Eyelids Channel where I walked in even more total darkness. Then I would open my eyes and it was just a tunnel of light. It was like a dream except I know it happened. It happened right? Teddy’s gone right? He’s in a blue urn in my vest? You’re climbing a mountain in the middle of the Moab desert? This is the only known planet with life in a universe with over a 100 billion galaxies and over 700 quintillion planets. Where the fuck are you Teddy?

Can Loca ride? Yeah, I can ride, Margaret, time to go! Margaret, thank you for everything” – Pink Floyd

Sometimes the act of getting up and moving feels like a monumental feat on the scales of The Great Pyramids or The Great Wall of China. That’s the mind clinging to comfort or at least the avoidance of more discomfort. So you have to drift slowly back into your meditation. One foot in front of the other. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and then that part of your mind shuts down and other parts open up and questions start appearing in the darkness. Who is the passenger? Teddy or me? Was i carrying Teddy or had Teddy been carrying me for 10 months and 3 days? Where is he? Where am I? Would I have done this without him? Why did his family give me his ashes? Why is teddy gone? Why didn’t the star shoot across the sky like I asked? I’m so grateful I am here. Thank you.

“Goodbye Chenga. Goodbye miss. I’ll be back”

I was carrying parts of Teddy in an urn that I was going to release into the desert. How ironic? What his family asked me to do with Teddy’s ashes was exactly what I was doing to myself. Parts of me were being released. Granular bits of fear were now part of Moab landscape. I was dusting the landscape with particles of my grief. Denial was slowly scattered amongst a universe of red sand. I was there to let Teddy go free. Teddy was releasing me. Good bye teddy. Good bye me.

Is there anybody out there? – Pink Floyd

You know what kind of rock that is? Nick asked me this question. I barely knew who I was. My answer was a very quick no. Nick informed me that it was a sitting rock. That was interesting information but I wasn’t sure what to do with it as I kept walking by it and him. Nick had to play the obvious card and tell me it’s called that because I needed to sit on it. I love Dad jokes, but that one went right by me and into the neighboring state. I slowly sank into the rock. Headlamp off. I looked up. 

Is there anybody out there? – Pink Floyd

It was excruciatingly quiet and so intensely dark out there, the silence and the weight of the darkness was crushing me. Squeezing me. Telling me you aren’t really safe. You never are Scott. The locks, and alarms, the air bags and long-term investments, the ideologies and passwords are useless. You aren’t safe, we never are. Then a star shot across the sky. A beautiful flash. One star in the gazillions that filled that sky moved. I’m seeing things. I broke the silence. Nick did you see that? Did you see that shooting star?

Is there anybody out there? – Pink Floyd

The answer was yes.

Is there anybody out there? – Pink Floyd 

The answer is yes.

[outro Instrumental]

  1. Beautiful account, thank you for sharing it and the background soundtrack.
    Your asking for signs while you were in the desert and got one at the sitting rock.

    Have you been on the lookout or seen any signs from Teddy since then.
    Has he sent you any chuckles you have figured we’re undeniably his?

    It may be my perspective but I imagine he still is aware of you and what you didn’t for him.

    Maybe it’s present in the gratitude you feel when you think of the 10 months you spent with him…..

    Amazing story, thanks again 🙏🏼


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