They say a picture says a thousand words.
I say, and I think we can all agree, that it depends on the picture.
I, unfortunately, do not have a picture that would do the tale I have to tell justice. I'm not sure I can even do it with words. But I am going to try.
Some of you may know, that dear sister Beckie is visiting midcoast Maine. Since Sunday she has been staying in a rental house two blocks from where I live. With her are friends, Jenna, Tim, and Kyle. They've been having a grand old time and when I am able, I pop on over for dinner or games.
This morning, I took the day off from work. Jenna, Tim, Kyle, and I decided to take the steep hike up to the top of Mt. Battie.
Going up, I learned that I am in a little better shape since the last time I took this particular hike. This pleased me.
Going down, I was forced to re-think my hiking practices and evaluate my tendency to fall down or into things.
Lets go back for a moment and recount a couple instances. Summer 2008, I was doing frag transects with fellow intern Corey in a marshy area in Rhode Island. Instead of following Corey with his uncanny knack to find all the safe walking spots, I went my own way and BAM! My right leg had sunk to my waist in the muck. Corey laughed and offered no help as I extracted myself. Two more steps and BAM! It happened again. Same leg, different hole. I lost a cell phone that day. Flash forward to the following winter. I went sledding with high school friend Matt and little sister Kirsti. The sledding hill was steep, the snow had been packed, melted, and then frozen in the frigid night. So it was hard as ice. I went down, my sled hit a bump, and I was jettisoned from my seat. I flew a little, landed hard, and continued to log roll down to the bottom of the hill. That was the same night I cracked my head on the icy slope. Next we come to the spring of 2010. We were running a Wilderness First Responder scenario where we had to carry someone a distance across uneven and difficult terrain. We came to a narrow bog bridge. The only way to get the stretcher across was to have one person carrying the front and one carrying the back with no one on the sides. Still, they wanted someone to at least guard the sides as the stretcher was rather wide. No one wanted to get mucky in the marshy water. I couldn't care less about getting mucky (having experienced it plenty in Rhode Island). So, thinking that the water was not deep at all, I took a couple steps to the side of the bog bridge in the muck. those two steps was all I got before I was up to my waist in muddy water. I had done it again.
I'm sure there are many other minor falling incidents. My family might be able to recall them better than I. But I think that THIS one takes the cake.
We had all had our fill of the view at the top of the mountain and were heading back down. The hike UP is strenuous and a challenge. It's sheer and steep at times. But it's nothing, NOTHING compared to going back down. I managed to do so without incident last time. I guess I can't be so lucky twice.
To be honest, as I was stretching my leg out down a steep slope to brace it on a small rock I thought to myself-"this might not be the best choice". But I was already going down and could not stop my momentum. For a split second I thought I had succeeded. Then my stomach dropped out as the momentum of my controlled movement downward towards the rock didn't go as planned. I couldn't stop after my foot landed on the rock and so I crashed to my knees in the steep and sheer slope. My brain said "okay, that wasn't too bad". But the momentum of the fall and the steepness of the slope were not going to let me off that easy. From there, how things happened were pretty much a blur. I somehow managed to get myself horizontal with the slope so that I was log rolling down the rocks. I didn't count how many times. Kyle, who saw the whole thing happen, says it was at least 4.
I don't remember pain or fear, honestly. My life didn't flash before my eyes. Just like in the situation with my car spinning across the highway, I think my thoughts were rather calm. Something along the lines of "Well, I could really get hurt here, but what can I do to stop it?" And when I see that I can't really so much to stop it, I just squeeze my eyes shut and wait for it to stop itself. Unlike the spinning car scenario, I DO remember hearing sound. I could here Kyle calling my name, the scraping sounds of my boots and clothes against the rock, and (towards the end) the sound of my water bottle clattering further down the mountain after it fell out of my grip. The steep rocks I was rolling down finally ceased on a little bit of scrubby earth. Here, I ended up on my stomach and I was able to stop myself from going any further.
I lay there on my stomach, breathing quickly. I heard Jenna or Tim call something down to Kyle. He said he thought I was okay. Then ASKED me if I was okay. Not sure how to answer, I remained silent, but pushed myself up and rolled over so I could sit and take inventory. First I was aware of the pain which I hadn't felt the whole time I was rolling. Nothing was excruciating-so I was sure nothing was broken. My head didn't hurt-So I have escaped a head injury, thank GOODNESS. My knees and legs hurt a lot but didn't seem to be broken. My arms stung. I took several deep breaths and then noticed that I was shaking quite a lot. Leave it to the adrenaline. Once I could breathe normally and assured everyone I was okay, I did a more detailed inventory. There was scrape about and inch and 1/2 long down my left arm covered in dirt, a couple other scrapes around my right elbow. My knees were screaming at me in protest, since they had taken the weight of the first fall. There were a couple mild scrapes on both legs but nothing bad. Thank goodness for PANTS! At this point I remember thinking, "great, the ONE TIME I don't bring my first aid kit along!"
My next thought was "Oh no! I lost my water bottle!" I asked Kyle if he had seen where it had fallen. He reminded me that he was too busy watching me. More than worrying about the pain, I was worried that I had lost a good Nalgene (P.S. I did find it and retrieve it).
This is not where I fell, but this is to give you an idea of the steepness of the slope and the rockiness of the terrain.
This is ALSO not where I fell. I don't actually HAVE a picture of where I fell. Kyle said he thought about getting one, but felt it was insensitive to ask me. I told him I really wish he HAD! I am a huge advocate for documenting the moment. I wish he had gotten VIDEO for it. Anyway, these rocks were right BEFORE the place I fell and were pretty close to the kind of rocks I rolled down.
The hike down this bit of mountain is hard ENOUGH with the steepness and the jarring impact on my knees. Now add to it the weakness that comes after a rush of adrenaline and aching pain in both my knees. It was not my favorite thing ever, let me tell you. But we got to the bottom without any other serious incidents. After I showered, it was apparent that my knees were both swelling. My right one more than the left. None of my scrapes were bad and had stopped bleeding. I found the stairs up to my room to be a challenge as bending my knees hurt. For the rest of the day, Right Knee stayed swollen twice it's normal size and Left Knee about 1/2 less than that. My cuts stung. And I limped everywhere we went (the rest of the greatness of this day will be documented later).
I'm now typing this with a frozen package of green beans and carrots wrapped in a towel over my right knee. The swelling has gone down a bit. The scrapes on my arms still sting. But stairs are a little easier and the pain has gone down.
I am indescribably lucky that I came out of this with nothing but a couple scrapes, bruises, and some knee swelling. And the fact that things already feel better is encouraging.
I admit that now the only thing I am worrying about is not being able to get exercise for the next couple of days. I know I need to take it easy on these knees of mine and not push myself. So I will NOT walk to work to water the plants tomorrow. I will drive. I won't walk to the laundromat on Saturday. I will drive. I might still walk the the village green. But I just hope that my knees feel better soon because until I can start walking places again, I am giving up sweets. Even though Kyle is making cookies tomorrow, Beckie and I made the most AMAZING cake tonight, I have CHOCOLATE in the pantry, ICE CREAM in the freezer, and Kathy made 3 KINDS OF CAKE for a members birthday yesterday! But I will control myself. NO SWEETS until I feel I am up for walking again. I hope it is soon.
Well, friends and family, it's late. I am tired. So I will end. I am thankful to be okay. Beckie is convinced that I'm like a Final Destination film-cheating death. And so eventually death is going to catch up with me and I am going to die in some crazy and elaborate way.
I'd like to think it has a little more to do with a higher power that ISN'T death, but what do I know?