The week that just ended was my kids' spring break. We did almost nothing spring-breakish. Partly this is because it feels harder, lately, to find things to do that appeal to both teenage boys and kid-aged boys. Partly this is because Kendell's in school now and it's harder for him to get away.
Partly I just ran out of energy to plan anything.
We did go out to eat several times (Chilis, and Red Robin). The boys all went to see the new Captain America movie. Kaleb had a sleep over with his cousin, and Jake had a picnic one day and went on a hike another with his girlfriend, and Nathan went to a trampoline park with his friends. Haley came home for the weekend. So we didn't do exactly nothing.
But I'd promised Kaleb we would go on a hike this week, and so we did, on Thursday morning. He's been wanting to hike the Y since last fall. (Translation of "hike the Y" for you non-Utahans: on the mountainside near Brigham Young University, there is an enormous letter Y. From a distance it looks like it's smooth and sleek, but when you get to the Y—there is a steep, mile-long hike to get there—you find out it's pretty bumpy. Like someone poured cement on a mountain. From the trail head, the Y looks like this:
We took along Kaleb's cousin Jace because neither Jake nor Nathan were at all interested in hauling their butts out of bed before 10:00.
I decided to wear the striped running pants I was wearing last year at Ragnar when I fell. For all the scraped-up, bloody knees I had, I only got one tiny hole in them. And they were brand new. And I loved the stripes. I want to start wearing them again but I felt I had to get out the bad juju. Wearing them to hike the Y (steep, but not too long; a little, usually-peaceful mountain adventure within sight of 87 churches and a temple) seemed like a good way to replace it with good juju.
And it seemed like I had a good plan. The hike up went smoothly, especially with two young boys along. They never complained once, despite the 1100 feet of elevation gain. We stopped twice for water, and counted the switchbacks, and before we knew it we were there, at the top of the Y. Here's the view:
Kaleb finally got to do something he's been wanting to do since the last time we hiked the Y (almost four years ago!): walk from the top of the Y to the bottom. The last time we went, I thought he was too young (he was only five) so I didn't let him go with the bigger kids. This time, I gave him and Jace some instructions:
1. Go slowly.
2. Get low---crouch down instead of walking.
3. BE CAREFUL. The Y isn't set on a gentle little slope. It's steep up there.
They listened carefully, and then set off on their adventure. And, you know: they were careful. They were slow. They went all the way to the bottom and then back up to where I was sitting on the top. A little winded, but happy. While they went, I sat on my boulder and looked out at the valley and felt the sun on my face. It was very nearly peaceful, except for I didn't ever stop holding on to them in my mind. (You know...like thinking "don't fall, don't fall" over and over will totally keep them from falling.)
I looked at my pants and thought good juju is being restored.
They went down, and then they came back up, and I made them let me take a picture of us:
We were on the north side of the Y, because there was a big group on the south side. These were older kids—12 and 13, I would guess—who were playing some combination of tag and race-down-the-mountain. As I was gathering up our stuff so we could head back down, one of these kids, a girl, caught my eye, because she was not following any of my clambering-on-the-Y rules. She was going really fast, and she wasn't crouched down low, but standing up straight. And just as I thought she should be careful, she started to tumble.
Clear, crisp mountain air carries sound a long way, especially when it is completely silent as everyone on the hillside holds their breath.
She tumbled head over heels, five or six times. Every time, her head hit the cement, with that hollow-melon sound a thunked head makes.
When she finally stopped tumbling, she didn't move for a little bit. Maybe thirty seconds. Then she groaned (that groan of injury...is there a word for it?) and sat up. Even from where I was, I could see she was bloody.
It was horrible.
My heart was pounding and my hands shaking, and I wished I'd kept more water because all of it seemed to leave my body in one big whoosh of adrenaline. Kaleb and Jace were shocked, too. They kept asking me, "Is she OK?" and of course, I didn't know, but I couldn't see how she could be.
We started back down the trail, but their group was standing at one of the switchbacks right at the top, so I stopped to offer my Bandaids. (In my Camelback that I usually hike with, I keep gauze, Neosporin, and Bandaids, but I had my traveling backpack with me instead, just to carry some water bottles, snacks, and a few Bandaids. I really wished I had my gauze, too.) Of course they were far past needing Bandaids. I could see the injured girl and her face looked badly cut, and someone was holding her, and all I could do was wish them luck, and then hold them in my thoughts, like I had Jace and Kaleb, while we went back down the trail.
When we were almost down—just the three longest switchbacks to go—we passed the EMTs as they were running up the trail. I was sad to see that, as I was hoping she'd be OK enough to get down on her own. After they passed, I told Kaleb and Jace the story of when Becky and I hiked Timp, and we watched a man fall down the snowfield, and this felt like that, the sound of the body hitting, over and over, the helplessness of stopping the tumble. That awful silence when the tumbling stops. I've never forgotten how that felt, and I think watching the girl fall on the Y is another indelible memory of injury. I think Kaleb and Jace will probably remember it for a long time, too.
I don't know how she fared, that girl who fell. Not knowing the end to the story is frustrating me still. I hope she is OK. But what I do know: my pants have only one more chance. I'll take them out once more, for a run that is safely close to my house, just in case their bad juju just can't be undone.