"I was accustomed to being in far, far riskier environments. So I thought going into that canyon was a walk in the park - there were no avalanches, it was a beautiful day, and I was essentially just walking." Aron Ralston
On a day forecasting WIND, we sought shelter and solace in Spring Canyon's gullet. It's one of those places that makes me feel small, and reminds me of human insignificance. Though we've hiked Spring Canyon several times, I never tire of the experience.
Bobbie suggested we explore side canyons this time. We hung a left at the first opportunity, and followed our noses.
As the canyon spur narrowed, we were forced to scramble under-over-around humungous boulders that had previously molted from overhead rims. I'm talking house size hunks of rock. It begged the proverbial question: If a boulder calves in a canyon and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Alas, objects of sense exist only when they are perceived. Thus, sound requires an "ear." I digress...
We pushed on to canyon's end...a "pour off," without a pool in which to land. Still, a worthy exploration as it was absent of people, a rarity in National Parks these days.
Upon reaching the main corridor, we endeavored down-canyon to the next spur and hung a left. But this was no "spur." This, we found out later, put us into the upper reaches of Spring Canyon...a massive drainage with a trickle of water flowing. Following Big Horn Sheep tracks, we tiptoed upstream...hoping to catch a glimpse of one or more of these elusive beasts. I could almost feel them, staring down from some inaccessible perch, heads cocked with curiosity.
Bobbie wondered if this canyon might "lead out" (provide an exit) at some point. Me? I just wondered what was around the next bend. It was glorious. Cottonwoods were blinding with radiance; "burning bushes," yellow beyond belief.
On we trudged, through deep sand that seeming multiplied Newton's Law. Yet we were reluctant to turn around. It's difficult when exploring a magical place you've never been, a watercolor wash of salmon pink cliffs, cerulean blue sky, and cottonwoods...with leaves the color of ripe lemons.
But someone had to "blink." Well over half depleted of water, food, and energy, if we wanted to make it out of here alive, this might be a good time to turn around.
Our legs were weary and dragging as we approached the main corridor. Ah, only three more miles to the car. That's when I heard a "thud," like someone dropped a large, overstuffed duffle bag. It was followed by a weak moan.
I whirled around.
There was Bobbie, laid out flat, her face planted on a pile of rocks. Bobbie!
She wasn't moving. I heard a low moan, barely audible. I asked if she was ok...a dumb question, in retrospect. Afraid to move her, I knelt down where I could see her face...still planted on rocks, a pool of blood forming in dry, thirsty sand. God.
You know how it is. You're leaning forward, trying to slog through sand on tired legs. Suddenly, a toe doesn't quite clear a little embedded stone and your boot locks onto it like a long lost love. Bam!
Bobbie finally struggled onto knees and elbows, dazed. I tried to access the damage. Under a layer of gritty sand was a split lower lip, already swelling, and blood gushing freely from both nostrils.
I dug a wad of paper towels out of my pack (emergency toilet paper, but clean), soaked them in water from my hydro-pack and dabbed away the grime. It didn't take a minute for the paper towels to be sopping wet with blood.
Rummaging through my pack, I pulled out a clean pair of white athletic socks and soaked them with the last of my water. I gently applied it as a cold compress across her nose in hopes to stop the bleeding. I asked her to feel for chipped and/or missing teeth with her tongue. Unbelievably, all were intact. It seems her nose and lips took the brunt of the fall. There would have to be a rock, right where her face planted.
After about 10 minutes, Bobbie could stand and her nose stopped bleeding. It looked really bad, and we still had 3 miles to go. With assurances that she was ok, we resumed our hike out.
That night Bobbie's upper lip turned purple and her lower lip swelled to about 5 times it's normal size. After she trimmed off bits of loose lip skin, applied antibiotic cream, she announced that stitches wouldn't be necessary.
Brother. Maybe time to think about a "Spot" emergency beacon.