We were hiking on a trail that our Airbnb host suggested. The trail was local and not well maintained with lush greenery brushing us up to the waist for the past hour. Finally, we were climbing out of a valley and came to a sign that read:
–> Pulpit rock
–> Ross Cave
Distracted by the promise of the waterfall we misread the sign, thinking it had said that Pulpit rock (where we needed to go) was in the same direction as the waterfall; so we continued in the way of the fall. The trail grew less viable as we went. I had said a few times that I thought we must have read the sign wrong, but Caitlyn was confident that we were going the right way. We kept going even though we could only see maybe 300 feet in any direction due to the blankets of fog that enveloped us. Seemingly out of nowhere, two large birds appeared overhead and lazily flew in our direction. Upon reaching us, they immediately turned around and disappeared into the fog just as quickly as they had come. We both noticed the eerie feeling of it,
“Woah, that was a trip.”
“I think they were telling us to turn around.”
Ignoring the birds we kept walking and about 300 feet later the ground gave out from under Caitlyn. I didn’t see it, but all of a sudden I heard her sliding down the mountain for 6-8 full seconds. Unaware of the severity of the situation I yelled:
“Caitlyn! Are you alive?”
“Are you ok?”
“I don’t know.”
I found a way down to her and she said that she had serious pain in her right foot her ribs. Summoning up my medical knowledge I checked her out.
“Your ribs don’t seem to be broken. Is there any way that you can walk on your foot?”
“No, let’s keep talking about a way to get out of here.”
“What do you need?”
“When I fell my iPhone fell out of my pocket and it tumbled, could you go look for it?”
Unable to comprehend her request I went looking for her iPhone. After a couple of minutes I hear, “Fuck the phone!”
I go back up to her and she’s sure she can’t walk on her foot, so I gave her my sweater and told her that I’d be quick to get help. I backtracked as safely and quickly as I could, finally following those damn birds. I was back to the road in 15 minutes, went to the first house that I saw and knocked on their door. At this point I was wet with rain, sweat and surely had a bit of craze in my eyes.
“I NEED HELP, MY FRIEND FELL DOWN NEAR PULPIT ROCK, CAN I USE YOUR PHONE??”
Man did I pick the right house. The man (who’s a seasoned adventure guide) and his wife were fluent in first aid knowledge and loaded with resources. They took my directions and immediately took off down the hill for Caitlyn while I called the police rescue team. The cops got there 20 minutes later and after a bunch of unnecessary bullshit, we headed back down to her. When we arrived she was smiling and the crackin’ jokes with the couple, Brendan and Addie. The rescue guys got her more comfortable with blankets and morphine and started to organize a rescue mission.
It was quickly established that there was no way they were going to carry her out of there, the terrain was horrendous, night was falling and it was too foggy to get a helicopter in- our only option was staying the night.
Brendan and Addie (the angels that they are) went back up to their house and brought me a sweater, jacket and food for both of us. It was a ridiculous scene really, here we were on the side of a steep hill, which was below the cliff Caitlyn has just fallen off of and according to the rescue guys it was nothing short of a miracle that was neither horribly mangled nor dead. Instead, she was in an amazing mood, hanging with the rescue team, telling stories and cracking jokes; we might as well have been in a pub. Caitlyn and I both said at different points, “Is it weird that this is fun?”
Finally, at about midnight, the final shift of rescue guys came in and with them was the first member of the team that wasn’t particularly friendly. He told me that I would have to leave because I would be a liability when the helicopter got there in the morning and that he didn’t want me walking out of there when I was exhausted. Bullshit in my opinion, but Caitlyn was happy and comfortable enough to let me go home, so I did. I went to bed at 3:00 am, woke up 4 and half hours later and started calling the police department. Finally at 9:00 they confirmed that Caitlyn had been helicoptered out and taken to a hospital. I got on the next train there. Turned out that she only had a severely sprained ankle, some bruises on her ribs, and a few scratches. An extreme statistical anomaly, an act of God, the Universe doing Universe-y things… whatever you want to call it, that’s what it was.
Life is wonderful. And it is fragile.
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