Dangerous Scenery

September 22, 2008
Have you ever experienced something so surreal that it was funny? Or have you ever watched one of your friends get so severely hurt that your only reaction was to laugh? Even though it might sound terrible, laughing was my reaction when my friend broke his leg on the Christmas ski trip he took with my family and me. The whole event just seemed like I was floating through a hazed over dream, and that it could not possibly be happening on my vacation. On second thought, the haze might have been from the steady blizzard of snow that was falling when Landon slid to his injury.

On Friday we had woken up early to get as much skiing in as possible; my dad, Landon, and I hit the slopes as soon as the lifts opened. We rode up the lift with the wind whipping icy snow into our faces. I looked over at Landon; the wind had left a pink windburn along his cheeks and nose. He gave me a slight smile that said he was going to pretend to want to be out in this ludicrous weather. We got off the lift with the blustery weather blowing so hard that I literally felt I was going to be pushed backward up the mountain. I bent over to make myself more aerodynamic in hope that I would somehow not feel the snow beating across my face. I glided to a stop at the bottom of the run, sliding on the ice that had been camouflaged by the freshly fallen snow. My cousin Logan, his friend Eric, and my sister Sierra met us at the bottom of Peak Ten.

As we waited in line at the Falcon Super Chair, I watched the blinking sign, which gave the slope conditions. When it turned to the blue-black run Double Jack it said the conditions were icy and un-groomed. As we loaded on to the lift I hoped that we would not be going down that run. The ride seemed like it was taking centuries and I had the sensation I was going slide off the lift onto the tightly pack snow. I looked up and down the chair at my family who all sat with their arms huddled in close to their bodies, trying to protect the tips of their noses from the frigid wind as it scratched at their skin. As we slowly crept up the mountain we began to swing back and forth. I looked over at Landon in his bright yellow ski jacket and hoped we would not fall off the ski lift.
Once we finally got off the lift, Logan, being the most experienced skier, decided we would go down Double- Jack because it is the easiest rated run on Peak Ten. I have always hated this run because it seems to always be crowded, but I was not going to say anything since I was the youngest and thought I had no authority. We started down the left side of the mountain in between the lift poles and the wood fence that divided two different runs. I was going fairly slow because of the constant swirl of snow, but Logan and Eric were flying down the mountain. Then Landon, a yellow blur, sped past me vigorously trying to catch Logan, and suddenly there was a puff of white snow as Landon slid into the wooden fence on the left.

I skidded to a stop to see Landon lying on the other side of the fence after a very nice whip out, and I began to giggle thinking that he had slid under the fence and would pop back up in a moment’s time just like every other fall I had seen. I then watched my cousin as he sprinted up the hill in slow motion toward Landon, and I snapped back into reality. I heard the people yelling from the lift asking if he was okay and I saw the crowd that was congregating around the motionless Landon as he lay on his stomach behind the two broken boards across the fence.

My head was spinning as I took off my skis with my sister and walked up the hill and sat on the snow next to the fence. By then the paramedics were skiing down toward us with a stretcher behind them, and I prayed that they would not really be taking Landon away on that; he could not possibly be hurt enough to need to be taken to the hospital. I watched the rescue aids move about Landon and ask him questions like his name and his birthday to make sure that he had not lost any memory. As they slowly rolled Landon onto the stretcher I watched in agony as he gritted his teeth in pain and attempted to not complain about the shooting throbs he admitted having in his knee. If I could have traded places with him right then, and not had to call his mom and tell her that her precious baby boy was being taken down the mountain on a stretcher, I would have done it in an instant. Unfortunately, the time came when they said they were going to take Landon to the hospital immediately for x-rays, and we would need to notify his legal guardian to find out his insurance and to get permission to treat him for whatever he was going to need.

In the car on the way to the hospital I called Landon’s mom and told her all that had happened and that I would call her again later when we knew more about his injury. She did not seem too upset, but that was probably just because we did not have much information yet. Once we walked into the emergency room waiting area a doctor greeted us and said that the x-rays showed that Landon had fractured his femur right above his knee, and we were very lucky that it was just that. He said they would need to get him into surgery immediately. After I told Landon’s mom this news she was not quite as calm, and she wanted to talk to every person in the hospital to make sure that her son really needed to have surgery without her there. Once she learned that the surgeon was one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the country, she was able to calm down a little and help them get everything legal done so they could help Landon.

After they settled all the liability issues it was finally time for Landon’s operation. As my dad and I were escorted to the waiting room I realized that we were not in a typical hospital. I glanced around at the leather couches, the plasma TV hanging over the rock fireplace, the grand piano next to a stone wall, and the beautiful Christmas decorations sparkling in every direction, and I thought I was at Big Cedar Lodge. I then sniffed the air, expecting the smell of sick people I usually associate with hospitals, but instead my nostrils tingled with a strong sensation of cinnamon. My dad and I sat down on one of the overstuffed couches and waited for Landon to come out of surgery. After three hours had passed, a nurse finally came out and showed us the before and after x-rays of Landon’s femur. They had used a machine to realign Landon’s bone and they then put two screws in his leg to hold it in place. The nurse then said that Landon had been taken to his room five minutes ago, and that we could now go up and see him.

Once we reached his room I sat down anxiously waiting, like his servant wanting to do whatever I could to help him, and feeling guilty that I could walk around and he could not. By the end of the night he not only had me jumping at every word to fulfill his every need, but also my dad and all the nurses. While I looked up various websites for him on the computer, my dad was flipping the channels on the plasma TV, and the nurse was bringing him more pain medicine.

Looking back on the whole experience I wonder why I was able to stay so calm and not be in complete hysterics, or why I simply laughed at my friend as he slid through that fence. As I have thought about the entire ordeal with the broken fence, the luxury hospital, and the extreme weather I realize that it was an experience that could have not have been expected at all. The entire time I felt that I was not truly living it out, but rather watching it on a TV screen or from the outside looking in on someone else. Regardless, watching Landon slide through that fence will be forever branded into my memory, and I often wonder how such beautiful scenery could hurt someone so terribly.

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