NO WAY!  Nooooo... The heart sinks as i stare in disbelief at carabiners dangling over a 20m drop-off, waiting for the rope i do not carry. Moqui steps they were supposed to be on this cliffside, permitting a hazardous but feasible reconnect with the canyon floor below and the safety (water, food, warmth) of my gear ― barely 300m meters away, now completely out of reach.

The situation is worrisome: it is 2hrs past sunset and getting dark by the minute. I am perched on the upper levels of a 3-dimensional sandstone labyrinth
the intricate canyon network of Navajo Mountain, surely one of the most convoluted terrain on the Colorado Plateau. I have been hiking the better part of a day to get where i am, last few hours negotiating treacherous sandstone slopes linking bald domes to plunging cliffs.

None of my options are appealing: deploy the survival blanket and spend an uncomfortable sleepless night on bare rock with little clothing and water. Or risk retracing my steps in the dark, under partial moonlight and a good headlamp, but a quickly draining GPS battery.
I decide the latter.

It will be an emotionally tense, physically exhausting, brisk hike. At past 1:00 in the morning i finally stumble into camp. 50m above head, the carabiners dangle still.