Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Dangers of a Trail

This maker commemorates lives lost at the Laurel Fork Falls
We all know there are certain dangers found when hiking. Weather extremes. Injuries from the act of hiking over terrain. Illness. The occasional wildlife encounter or insect / plant life encounter that goes bad. But there are also other hazardous that can even be life threatening. Sometimes there have been drownings. Medical conditions such as heart attacks. Even crime, though extremely rare. The trail itself, in all its varying terrain, can deliver near life and death experiences. 

A few years ago year ago, a father and son lost their lives at Laurel Fork Falls, right along the famous Appalachian Trail near Hampton, TN. 

While thinking on this tragedy, I was alerted to another hiker that had a similar fateful fall at these waterfalls and nearly drowned. Hiker "Slim" shares her harrowing experience in this journal entry from her hike:

We stopped at Laurel Fork Gorge to dip our feet in the water.  We met another hiker, Bob, from upper
Hiker Slim nearly drowned at Laurel Fork Falls
New York who sells printing presses.
  We were all talking and hiking along the creek when we went around a two foot rock ledge at the water's edge and when I stepped up my pack’s external frame hit the rock above and knocked me off balance and I fell backward and head first fell into the water with a fully loaded backpack.  I was holding my breath while suspended in water just a few feet over my head but couldn't get up or down.  I was suspended there
Where Slim fell and could not breath
for a few seconds when I heard a splash behind me.
  Bogey had jumped over me into the fast moving stream still wearing his backpack and I felt him pushing my pack and me upward.  Then again he pushed me and finally I was able to grasp some air.  Bob pulled me out and then Bogey climbed out.  I don't know if I would have thought to take off my backpack as Bogey was in so quick to jump in after me.  I didn't have time to think. I probably would have drowned because I did not think to take off the backpack.  I was scared, shaking and weak when I climbed out. Then Bogey climbed out and the camera that was in his fanny pack began to make a grinding noise.  We then had to buy another camera when we got to Unicoi.  We did eleven miles today.  I hesitate to think what would have happened if Bogey had jumped into water that was over his head. 
Bogey jumped in and saved Slim. Here they are safe and only wet just after the incident. 

I told him he could have drowned. He said he would have pushed me out first.   Bogey lost his pepper spray in the creek.  I was so grateful to him for loving me enough to risk his life for me. 

 Wow. Such a story makes one think and appreciate life and those we love so much more. Heroism can be so overlooked by the bad we hear. Its good to reflect on the goodness we find in the trail experience. And also to take those extra precautions and be aware of our surroundings, knowing that danger exists on the trail.

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