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Thread: Easy as falling off a cliff

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    Member Dynanim's Avatar
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    Red face Easy as falling off a cliff

    No real point to this story. Just sharing a small encounter I had with a mountain.

    The day started off like most of our tamer outings; bright, sunny and crisp; full of possibilities and fun. My (then) wife, Malu, and a few of our friends were excited about the trip we were going on. We'd been planning the day on and off for a week. Not too complicated. It was just going to involve hiring a few canoes, paddling upriver a couple of hours, have a picnic, then paddle back.

    So off we set. We headed to an area past the outer north-west fringes of Sydney; to the Colo River. Having made it that far (no mean feat, because we were being driven by Paul, who lives his Formula 1 racing dreams behind the wheel of the kombi we were in) we got our canoes and headed upriver with our lunches stowed in Ross' canoe. After an hour-and-a-half of paddling, we got into a bit of skylarking - splashing each other with the paddles. Ross, being the dextrous fellow that he is, managed to capsize his own canoe; along with our lunches. So we paddled to a grassy bank to see what we could salvage. Luckily, a lot of our lunches were packed pretty tightly and we managed to keep most of it. [Lesson here: even if you're not going on any great adventure on water, keep your food in water-tight containers and away from clumsy people. ]

    As we sat on the bank thinking of a suitable punishment for Ross, we thought we'd climb to the top of the mountain across the river from us. It didn't look hard and we didn't need any climbing gear. It was almost like a bunch of steep stairs leading to the top. Even our wives/girlfriends thought it was easy enough for them, so we tackled it after lunch. The last thing I remember was paddling across and beginning the climb at the base of the mountain.

    I woke up three days later in hospital. I still don't remember what happen. Nobody saw me fall. Nobody understands how I could have fallen considering my previous climbing experience (I loved rock climbing and have done lots of climbs before). What we knew was that I headed off to find a more challenging route. What we could piece together was that the only way I could have fallen was if the rock gave way or if I put my hand on a wee beastie (snake or spider). We've got more than our fair share of venomous critters here in Australia. I don't think that I had the presence of mind to choose between being poisoned or falling off, but I previously had a very close encounter with a brown snake before (but that's another story), so I probably just got so startled that I let go.

    My cousin Jim was the closest to me and he said he heard a noise like a sack of potatoes hitting the rock. Always the flatterer is young Jim. (I always imagined that if I ever hit the ground in any way, it would ripple like it does in The Matrix, then be followed by an intense shock wave. Reality can be disappointing. At least I didn't scream like a little girl. I didn't call out at all.) He came to look and found me lying down the slope. I had fallen about 20 feet onto a rock, narrowly missing its sharp crest, then continued rolling down the rocky slope. I was unconscious. He called the others to work out what to do. Malu was there, shaking me, asking if this meant that our trip to Europe was off. Just kidding. She was pretty distraught. Jim was trying to calm her down and concentrate to work out what to do. She's a nurse and Jim was trying to get her to settle enough so that she could apply some first aid. Paul ran to his kayak and paddled downriver to where he could see a farm house. Nobody was home so he broke in to use the phone. Not long later, the rescue helicopter was there with a swarm of news helicopters. I guess there wasn't much other news happening that day.

    The rescue guys put me in a stretcher, which would have been a task because I weighed about 90 kg (almost 200 lbs) at that stage. When they began to winch me up to the hovering chopper, the guy controlling the guide line lost hold of it and the stretcher swung uncontrollably. I was nearly impaled on a branch (lucky I was still out of it) but he dove for the line and swung me out of the way. The trip to the hospital was uneventful. I guess they figured that I'd had enough excitement for the day! Hat tip to those rescue guys.

    I suffered a supposed broken rib (which the doctor and I am dubious about, but I'll come back to that later), a partly torn ear, lacerations, bruising, loss of memory and concussion. It took a while to recover and I had a fear of heights after the accident (I can't understand why). A week after I went home I got another X-ray and that didn't show any broken ribs, which is why the doctor was dubious that I had broken any in the first place. Malu and I did get to our European trip and I forced myself to go up to high places to overcome my fear of heights. It took a while, but I'll be damned if I let a phobia beat me.

    I guess there is a lesson to this story. Accidents can and do happen even when we don't expect them. Maybe even because we don't expect them. Maybe we become a bit lax and don't plan for them. Knowing first aid will always be useful - not that it could have helped in my situation - but it would in many others, especially when a long way from help. Have at least 2 people in your party knowing it, and have at least 2 first aid kits.

    Anyone got a similar story? Thoughts about what could have been done better?


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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    That's a great story. Thanks for sharing it. Yes, I believe more accidents happen when it's "just a little, fun trip", nothing big. Because then we aren't paying as much attention. Glad you made it out ok though.
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    Some similar......I used to host a campout at a place called Buck's Pocket in north Alabama. The walk from the primitive camping area was 2 1/2 miles from the ranger station where the water and showers were. We were walking back one night from the showers and there was one spot on the dirt road/trail where there was a puddle across the whole area except a narrow shoulder. We started across in single file - I was the last one. My feet flew out from under me and I threw my arms out so I could slide and catch myself but there was nothing to catch myself on. I managed to catch the shoulder of the road I slipped off, though. So, I pulled myself back up and we walked on back to the campsite. I was all muddy then after my shower.

    The next day, walking back up the road, I saw where I had fallen. There was a drop of about 30 feet and nothing below but boulders in the swollen creek.
    True enough, my final home is still out there, but this is most certainly my home range and I love it. I love every rock I fall off and tree I trip over. Even when I am close to dying from exhaustion, a beautiful sunset doesn't lose it's power to refresh and inspire me and that, in itself, is enough to save me sometimes.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Was turkey hunting...on a ridge....leave falling (was leaf falling day....that magic day in the fall when most all the leaves fall in one day)

    Walked past a friend setting up his blind....I was headed farther along the ridge....eating an apple.

    Just out of sight of him....slipped on a loose rock under all those leaves.......was slippery as all get out.

    Slid all the way down the ridge......maybe 300 ft. sorta on my butte....and stopped at a rock out cropping just up from the bottom.
    Could have been bad....but really all the was hurt was my pride.

    Took all morning to work my way back up...couple of steps slid back a bit etc.

    Came across my friend again about noon.....he says..."Hey, Did you fall all the way down the ridge?"

    Said..."No, I just wanted to see what was down there"

    He says, "BS... I found your apple where you dropped it, at the top of the slide mark....all the way down".

    Yup, happens fast...
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    Super-duper Moderator Sarge47's Avatar
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    Cool Thank you!

    Your narrative is what this site is all about! Survival is what you do when it all goes to poop! In this case you were fortunate to have the others with you. It was altogether "unplanned," and you made it through! Thank you for your story!...
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    I have a story but it will have to wait until tonight.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Good story. Glad it all came out OK in the end.

    I truly believe that most accidents happen when we become complacent. For many, the most frequent way that they bcome complacent (I believe) is to think ---- I've done this so many times ---- or ---- I've done far more difficult "stuff" than this.
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    Member Dynanim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post
    That's a great story. Thanks for sharing it. Yes, I believe more accidents happen when it's "just a little, fun trip", nothing big. Because then we aren't paying as much attention. Glad you made it out ok though.
    Me too. Though I wouldn't have known it if I didn't.

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    WolfVanZandt, that was a pretty close one! Better muddy than bluddy!

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    Hunter63! You made me laugh! That would have been pretty hair-raising cause you had time to see what was happening. Glad it ended well though!

    Good of your friend to come looking for you. Oh wait. He didn't. He owes you a drink!

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    Thanks Sarge47. Too bad I wasn't conscious and made it out on my own steam, like that guy that had to cut his own arm off cos it was trapped between a rock and the cliff. Now that was gutsy! Not that I want to suffer, but I'd like to know what I'm really made of when it comes down to it.

    Talking about having others with me... there was one time when I was bushwalking alone and that was when I had a close encounter with a venomous brown snake. I'll post that another time. Not a good idea to go off on your own, but sometimes I just had to.

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    Too true, crashdive123. Where do we draw the line though? Like hunter63... he was walking on what seemed like a really safe path. What could he have done differently?

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Don't eat an apple and walk at the same time.....or as Crash related, complacency breeds trouble.

    I suspect a lot of things happen the same way...One minute you are good....and the next you are in trouble.....and may not even know it.
    You were lucky, you had help....

    The short trip 6 blocks to the store is where you will have problem....rather then the long trip you are cranked up about.
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    Senior Member WolfVanZandt's Avatar
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    I was wearing very slick soled shoes - and it was the last time. I fell at least once a day on that campout. I was in the camp one day and stepped on a flat rock. It was the most perfect Looney Tunes flip and fall I've ever done.

    I've gone off several cliff trails - that I can think of, I slid down a rock face between Highlands and Franklin, North Carolina and I've gone off a couple of cliffs in the Bankhead National Forest in north Alabama because of slick leaves. I generally try to spread out as much as possible - get as much surface area between me and what I was sliding on and try to slow my slide with friction and hope to snag something with my arms and legs. I was lucky at Buck's Pocket that I fell belly down because I never would have caught myself on my back.
    True enough, my final home is still out there, but this is most certainly my home range and I love it. I love every rock I fall off and tree I trip over. Even when I am close to dying from exhaustion, a beautiful sunset doesn't lose it's power to refresh and inspire me and that, in itself, is enough to save me sometimes.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynanim View Post
    Too true, crashdive123. Where do we draw the line though? Like hunter63... he was walking on what seemed like a really safe path. What could he have done differently?
    One of the places that I take a day hike on a regular basis has well groomed trails. It is very easy to "not pay attention" while hiking. Lots of critters that could upset the hike though - poisonous snakes to name one. I'm usually with my camera so paying attention is sort of why I'm there.

    Another area where people get in trouble is lack of knowledge. Typing the above reminded of a time when I was hiking and saw a family with a young child ahead. They were stopped on the trail and looking at something. As I approached, they were watching their son crouch down and look at a snake. He had a stick in his hand and was about to "play" with it. I told the parents that they may not want to let their son poke the rattlesnake. They had no idea.

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    Senior Member WolfVanZandt's Avatar
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    I once saw a picture of parents in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park putting their child on the back of a bear for a camera op. I'm pretty convinced that many people have never spent much time in reality.
    True enough, my final home is still out there, but this is most certainly my home range and I love it. I love every rock I fall off and tree I trip over. Even when I am close to dying from exhaustion, a beautiful sunset doesn't lose it's power to refresh and inspire me and that, in itself, is enough to save me sometimes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    Typing the above reminded of a time when I was hiking and saw a family with a young child ahead. They were stopped on the trail and looking at something. As I approached, they were watching their son crouch down and look at a snake. He had a stick in his hand and was about to "play" with it. I told the parents that they may not want to let their son poke the rattlesnake. They had no idea.

    Some people just don't spend a lot of time in the woods.
    This should have been common sense. They would have had to had their head under a rock their whole lives not to know that a snake COULD BE dangerous. Even if it wasn't, they shouldn't allow their kid to poke animals unless they meant to eat it. These people you're talking about spent too much time in the woods - they didn't belong there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WolfVanZandt View Post
    I once saw a picture of parents in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park putting their child on the back of a bear for a camera op. I'm pretty convinced that many people have never spent much time in reality.
    Or maybe just in their version of reality.

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