It was my third fall of the day and the one that almost did me in. The first was just a fall to my knees, skinning them both and depositing some of the small dirt and stone that made up the trail. The second was a slip in the loose dirt, causing me to land dead square on my bottom. The only evidence of the mishap was more loose gravel that had imbedded itself in my right hand as I tried to break the fall. While embarrassing, and requiring assistance to right myself due to the added weight of the backpack, neither fall caused seriouse injury, other than to my pride, of course.
Little did I know that the worst was yet to come. Stepping on a rock that appeared to be firmly packed into the trail, I was caught off guard when the rock dislodged and I fell forward, instantly and firmly, right onto my nose. There was no time to brace myself, no time to cushion this particular fall. Just boom! Right onto the nose, breaking both nose and sunglasses in the sudden impact of that fall. Surprisingly, there was less pain than angst at seeing blood pooling rapidly on the ground, as if being poured from a faucet. "Interesting," I remembered thinking.
My instincts told me to get up, but reason took over and I continued to lay on the ground, awaiting the help of my compatriots, the guides of the trip. Sophia and Amanda, two young ladies the age of my daughters, flew to assist me. Fortunately for me, Amanda is a trained EMT and was able to administer the needed care. A spinal and neck check were completed, to assure that there were no debilitating injuries. Ibuprofen was administered, my bearings gathered and we were back on the trail again.
Had I understood the arduous nature of the trip, I likely would have opted out. But once on the trail, there is no choice but to keep moving forward. Rescue teams only come in the event of serious injury; airlifting only occurs in the event of life-or-death situations. I qualified for neither so I continued: Five days of hiking, first up and then down the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, completing a total of 21 miles of ground was not an easy task for this late middle-ager. But, faced with no choice, I somehow completed it, usually keeping pace with the teens and young adults who comprised the trip.
The fall happened on day one, exactly a week ago today. As I write, I have two black eyes, a cut across my nose from the broken glasses, numerous scrapes, cuts and bruises in various parts of my body. I feel only mild discomfort as a result of my injuries. Mostly, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction at having been challenged--both physically and mentally--and having come through and completed the task as set forth. I may have fallen up the mountain, but I continued forward, overcoming even more difficult obstacles along the way. I probably won't do it again, but the hike was a great reminder that people are often stronger than they believe themselves to be. Faced with obstacles as well as doubts, I somehow endured, overcoming them both. As the Chinese have always believed, crisis equals opportunity.