By the summer of the first year of the pandemic, our little Los Angeles pod had a great case of cabin fever going. My family and I were bubbled up with three other families—including fellow actors Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell and their kids—all of whom we’d known forever, and all of whom needed an adventure. So, in July, the whole pod set out on a road trip together to Sedona, Arizona, where I got a bit more adventure than I’d planned.
We stayed at this awesome Airbnb right by Slide Rock State Park, surrounded by Oak Creek Canyon’s giant red rocks. One morning, my wife, Amy, and I, along with our friend Molly, decided to go hiking straight out of our Airbnb and onto the red rocks. It wasn’t a designated hike—there was no trail marked or anything—but we figured we’d go for it. We could see our house the whole time, so we were thinking, It’s fine, we’re right there. After hiking for a while, we got to the base of these rocks, and they were just magnificent. They looked like they needed to be climbed, partly because there was a thick climbing rope with big knots dangling down. I checked it, pulled on it, tested to make sure it was strong, and started pulling myself up. I was scrambling up the rock, getting right up to the lip of a section, and snap! The rope broke.
All at once, I was sliding down fast, praying like a madman for about 10 feet until I hit this one spot where I could grasp along the side of the rock face. There was a deadly 100-foot drop on one side, and an obviously leg-breaking drop on the other, but I was alive. I had one foothold and two hand grips, with my other foot kind of dangling off the cliff-side. The girls were down there screaming. I yelled down that I was OK and tried to collect myself, but it took me another 20 minutes of thinking and fuming before I accepted that, with the rope gone, I couldn’t see a way down.
There was no cell service, so Amy and Molly had to hike down a ways to reach emergency services. When the fire department showed up and parked along the road, there was this weird standoff, since they were too far away to communicate with each other. The firemen assumed that Amy and Molly were the stranded hikers, and since they seemed to be fine, they didn’t come over to check on them. Meanwhile, Amy and Molly didn’t want to leave me. This went on for a while, but finally Amy and Molly hiked down to explain. By this time, I was trembling, and I could feel my weight-supporting leg going numb. Then, all of a sudden, I saw deliverance: a helicopter hovering 100 feet above me. This woman lowered herself down on a cord, got to me, and put a harness on me. Then came the most humbling and weirdly powerful experience, where I felt so stupid and so thankful at the same time: The helicopter lifted me up and carried me away, and I felt like a 3-year-old kid lost in a store whose mommy just came to get him. It was one of the best helicopter rides I’ve ever had—arms out, legs out, just flying through the air. The helicopter landed in a field, and an ambulance drove me back to join everyone at the house. By the time I got there, Amy and Molly were back, and the kids had set up this whole, like, spa thing for me: drinks, food, a little bath. To them, I was like a survivor from the Titanic. The adults, meanwhile, shook their heads, not at all surprised that my adventure had ended with me dangling from a helicopter. So, sadly, no spa treatment from them.
The rest of the trip was much more chill. Sedona gave us a complete reset. It’s known for having these energy vortexes; I don’t even really know what they are, but the place definitely has a unique energy, and we needed that. We went on a few more popular hikes, like a gorgeous one along Cathedral Rock, and I was happy to stay on the trail. You know, the paths are marked for a reason.
Actor and comedian Ryan Hansen stars in the long-awaited third season of Party Down, airing on Starz.