Work and Life and Death

Tags: hiking, work, life, death

Today proved an eventful day. The only exciting thing I expected today was a job offer. I got more than I bargained for.

I went on a group hike today, to Seven Bridges and beyond into Jones Park. The trail had a little ice here and there and eventually I donned my Micro-Spikes. To my surprise, much as people were telling me, they seem to have a little extra grip on scree, which was good because we went through a nasty section of steep scree, maybe a few hundred yards long, with some scary drop-offs ultimately leading down to a creek.

On the way back, one of the hikers fell, dropping her hiking poles and phone, flipping over her head (and coming down hard on it), and then sliding on her back until she stopped at some rocks just before about a 10 foot drop. She suffered some cuts on her back, and a big bump on her head, but fortunately no other physical damage. (I'm still concerned she may have a concussion, and recommended she go to Urgent Care, but I don't know that she did so.)

I dropped my own pole and worked my way down the treacherous scree to reach her, but the most I could do was brace her from behind, with my feet against a more solid rock. About this time her own footing gave way and for a moment she only had me supporting her. During this the hiking leader made his way down. He was able to get more uphill of her to help pull while I braced and pushed. During this entire process she was in a state of shock and absolutely terrified from her fall, frozen and unable to move at all for minutes at a time. The mind can do funny things to you in such a situation.

Slowly the three of us worked back up the scree, sometimes ooching on the back, sometimes pushing against rocks, sometimes being pulled by hands and pushed from behind. She asked, as you might have, if we could get rescue and ropes etc. involved, but that would have caused a delay of 1-2 hours, we thought, maybe more, so we felt it best to do the rescue ourselves, so long as we felt we could do so safely. And this was only just on the edge of "safely".

During this her water bottle fell down and was lost. She kept asking for water though, and the second time I offered her some from my water bladder, she accepted and took a long drink. Once she got up towards the trail it moved a bit faster, but she came to a halt on the trail, not even realizing she was back on the trail until we repeatedly told her. Shock and all. Around this point she began profusely thanking us, especially me and the hike leader, but really we had several others helping from above, offering poles, hands, or just verbal support. Back on the trail the verbal support became all-important to keep her on track. One of the women on the hike was up to the challenge and applied a lot of pressure, kindly-intentioned but firm as a rock, and kept her moving.

So yeah, I had the privilege of helping save a woman's life today. I hope most of you would have done the same.

On the flip side of things, once back at home, just before I left the house for a car drop-off appointment I discovered a dead bird outside. I think it was a blue jay. Looks like it crashed into a window. :-(

The offer did come through though, so Diane and I treated ourselves to a celebratory dinner. It's just ironic that the offer is only the second-most exciting thing that happened today.

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