Monday, June 26, 2006


Weekly Anamnesis #29

I had been afflicted with food poisoning or stomach flu for over two days when we hiked up to some local hot springs. I hadn’t eaten anything that day, or even the day before. I wasn’t feeling too bad, but eating anything immediately made me want to wretch. I really wanted to go on this hike, though, so I put on my “brave soldier” face.

The hike was really lovely. It was late spring in the mountains, so the greens of summer hadn’t yet set in. It reminded me of fall actually, with the soggy leaves covering the ground. The hike wasn’t too hard; mostly up and down, rolling hills, gradual incline. We had the river next to us the whole time. Sometimes it was raging and roaring its way down the mountain, but then other times it was very serene and reverent.

The trail was very narrow in some spots. There was a steep incline to our right, which is the side the river was on. A makeshift guardrail had been built over the particularly dangerous areas, but we were nervous to lean on it. I don’t necessarily have a fear of heights, but I also don’t like being on the edge of very steep, very precarious slopes. Each time we would come to a guardrail I knew for sure, in my temporary panic, I would lose my footing and slip.

We could tell we were close to the springs when the smell of sulphur consistently stayed with us. Sulphur plus nausea equals worse nausea. I sincerely appreciated my friend who had the foresight to bring saltine crackers with her. Between them, my water, and Kelly Clarkson on MP3, I actually didn’t pass out! Dizzy sometimes, but no loss of consciousness. I was very proud of myself.

We were the last to arrive out of a group of about 12 people there at the hot springs. Our friends brought cheeses and wines, which I of course stayed away from, and we had a lovely evening soaking in the warm, stinky water. The sun went down, and darkness quickly filled our overhead view. The stars were spectacular, as they always are outside of the city.

Because it was nighttime, some of our friends decided it was time to head back down the mountain. No one really had come prepared for a night hike, however, as there were only two flashlights among us. Our solution? Hike down together, staying as close as possible, and using the two flashlights for everyone. I wasn’t able to see anything around me, and I was feeling a bit better, so the hike down was less intimidating than the one up. I couldn’t see the steep inclines, so I just pretended they weren’t there. Granted, there were all kinds of rocks and twigs to trip on. Night hiking wasn’t without its own perils.

Near the halfway point, the front-of-the-line people stopped and we could hear some yelling and scattered talking. It didn’t take long to realize that something was wrong. We were all gathered around one of the scary slopes I mentioned, and the two flashlights were pointed down, towards the river. There, at the bottom of a very steep drop-off, was a young girl with a pack on her back that was as big as she was. She had been hiking up the trail, lost her footing, and tumbled on her butt down the slope. All of the men with us were trying to reach down to get her, but she was way too low for their arms. The two guys that she was hiking with seemed to be at a complete loss as to a solution. Everyone had their own ideas and they were all trying to voice them at the same time. Chaos was running the show.

We heard rumbling in the bushes below, and as we all watched, out came Brandon, one of the guys from our group. He had, very heroically, found another way down to her spot, fought his way through the bushes, and made it to the young girl. He helped her take off her pack and climbed up a bit to give it to the men up on the ledge. Then he held the young girl’s hand as he guided her back up the slope, the same way he used to get down.

I was part of the many women that clapped and sang Brandon’s praises. There’s nothing sexier than a man who steps in, takes control, and saves the day (in my opinion)! But even as I was beaming with pride for being a friend of his, I couldn’t help think of my own fears about falling. So my new rules of hiking are: bring a flashlight and a guy with a hero complex. I think I’ll never go wrong if I adhere to them. :)


MattMan said...

Great story! Not to be immodest, but this Brandon character sounds like I am. I would have been likely to catch wind of the chaos and arguing, and just say to myself -- screw you guys, I'm gonna go *do* something about it instead of arguing over what will or won't work. I'll find something to work whether the cackling hyenas help or not. :) Here's to the unsung heroes in life, that I try to aspire to be.

Joseph's Left One said...

Well written, Laura. Your post brought back memories of that sulphur smell. Good times.

Sideon said...

I'm late in responding!

This reminded me of the hikes I used to do up Diamond Fork. Many a time we came down the trail in the dark. Scary times, but also the most comforting because friends were in front or behind, keeping close so we wouldn't lose anyone.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Fun story... :-) Yea, I have a heroic hubby.