Sunday, June 19, 2016

FacePlanting in Squaw Creek

A mere month ago, in the last few days we stayed in Spearfish Canyon, Natalie invited me on a hike up to a spot on Squaw Creek called the Devil's Bathtub. It's a relatively easy hike. Some ups and downs but the part that was initially challenging for me were the creek crossings. Perhaps a dozen or more crossings are necessary as the trail ends in a rock face and then continues on the other side. At first I was feeling sporty and crossed as Natalie did, on stones or a log across the stream. Eventually after discovering that my shoes were pretty grippy while wet, I forged across through the water. It was rarely over ankle deep and the chilly, sparkling water felt refreshing. It was a beautiful day and I often lagged behind to stare up at the rocky canyon walls, up to the scraggly trees rooted there, and then further up to a clear, blue sky. When we arrived at the Devil's Bathtub after a little over half an hour, it was easy to see how the site earned its nickname. Water swirled quickly down naturally carved chutes and slides to end up swirling in a deeper hole that had taken centuries to hollow out. We had the company of a local woman with her dog and a family that included kids, parents, and grandparents. When it looked as if a weather change might be in store we decided it was time to hike back. The weather can take a turn for the nasty quickly in the Black Hills and we had no desire to get caught in the rain. 

 I wish I could say that the return trip was uneventful. But, no. On the next to the last creek crossing I stepped from one wobbly rock to another wobbly rock and lost my footing. My right foot slid down into a hole in between the wobbly rocks and, for lack of a better description, I face-planted in the creek. Fortunately, instinct kicked in once I knew I was going down and I tucked and rolled into the creek bottom. I went down hard. Seriously hard. Natalie helped my up and fished my sunglasses out of the water. As you can see, they are pretty bent up and there are a couple of deep gashes in the right lens where they took the brunt of the fall instead of my face. While they were protecting my eyes, the upper right corner of the frame made a nice little gouge in my temple that bled profusely. Natalie ministered to my injury until the bleeding stopped. After I shook off the daze and determined that I only had skinned shins and a skinned knee, we completed the hike back to where the car was parked.

It was hours later that I realized how lucky I had been. I could so easily have broken my ankle or tibia in the fall, or been knocked unconscious. I could have required medical care, and who knows how an ambulance crew would have gotten me out of that spot in the canyon. I pre-empted the onset of pain with ibuprofin but man, was I sore! Over the last month, I have watched a sickening rainbow of changing color as the bruises cleared. The skin is healed but still a little discolored. I'm painfully aware of how deep the bruising is! My right shin is still a little tender but improving every day. My experience with accidents is that they feel more scary looking back than they are at the time. Some sort of adrenalin rush gets you through the crisis and it's only later that you experience the real fear. Because it could have been so much worse. All I have to say is, I'm going to keep taking that calcium supplement. And this is going to be a summer of longer skirts rather than shorter ones.

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