If Your Life Depended on It
Just the BeginningLost. That’s what we were. We were lost in the twisting, sloping forest surrounding Lake Superior. Mason and I had wandered off the trail a mile back without knowing it because the sign was covered in moss. I knew something was wrong when the path we were on became steeper with every step. We were supposed to be on the beginners trail, the one where it took you out to a camping site by the lake, but we must have stumbled onto the path for the advanced hikers. I did not know where this would lead, but Mason seemed so sure of himself that I could not help but trust him. The path twisted along for about another 500 feet and then massive boulders blocked the rest of the way. He wanted to climb over them, but something about how they were resting on each other didn’t seem right, as if they could shift at any second.
Mason began the dangerous climb and made it safely to the top. Just as he was leaning over to give me a hand, the boulder he stood upon rolled out from underneath him and threw the other boulders into domino effect. I jumped back; fearing that one of those boulders could sweep me away. They kept coming, and I could not see Mason anywhere. Finally there was a break in the landslide and I could see Mason’s bag now buried in the dirt. I frantically looked down the path of the boulders, searching the area for a glimpse of his dark brown hair, but my view was blocked by one last boulder. When it passed, I snatched his bag from the ground and sprinted down the path of the boulders, screaming for him to answer me. It felt like I ran one hundred miles before I finally found him. He was curled in a ball at the foot of a massive pine tree, bruises evident on his fair skin. I rushed to his side and knelt beside him. I lowered the bag and pulled out his first aid kit then gently rolled him over. His face was a roadmap of gashes and wounds, both of his eyes bruised and shut. I cleaned his wounds and covered them the best I could, thankful for those two months of Red Cross training I had over the winter. His arm looked funny to me, so I investigated it further. He had broken his arm in two places and it was spun completely backwards. I held my breath as I twisted and pushed it back into place, and then I used my jacket as a sling. He was still unconscious, so I lifted his head and put the bag underneath it to provide some cushion. I waited anxiously and watched as the sky turned from bright and sunny to dark and eerie. I had never been hiking before and this was all Mason’s idea. He thought it would be good for me to experience the great outdoors, and look where that got him. I noticed him twitch out of the corner of my eye and I cannot describe the relief I felt when I saw that he was alive. He slowly opened his eyes and tried to lift his arm, but he stifled a scream from the intense pain and slowly lowered it back down. I waited until he was fully alert before I told him what was going on.
“Mason?” I asked, “What do you remember?”
He looked at me with confused eyes, and then he glanced at the rest of his body. His face went from confusion to shock, then back to confusion as he tried to remember.
“I remember,” he began, “I was standing on a huge rock, looking down at you. I was bending over to help you up but suddenly the rock moved and I was on the ground. I was rolling down the path and I kept getting hit by the rocks, but after that I don’t remember.”
“After that,” I said, “I came running after you and I found you under this tree, curled up and unconscious. I did my best to help you, so I covered all of you cuts and I had to put your arm in a sling because you broke it. Honestly, I didn’t know if you would wake up.”
He smiled a weak, reassuring smile while trying his best to hide the pain. I repeatedly asked him if he needed water, food, or a blanket, but he always replied with a smile and a shake of his head. I knew we would have to spend the night in the woods, so I told Mason I needed to gather fire wood and that I would be right back. I hustled through the woods and picked up as many branches and sticks as I could find. When I entered the clearing, I caught a glimpse of relief on Mason’s face even though he tried to hide it. I didn’t want him to act tough; I wanted him to tell me what was wrong so I could help. I busied myself with building the fire and retrieving the food from the backpack then preparing it. Mason insisted that we bring this bulky backpack because it was full of survival stuff like a first aid kit, matches, a blanket, dry food, and water.
I could barely hear his faint breathing, but I didn’t want to make my worrying obvious by checking on him every five minutes. Instead I let my mind wander to how we would get out of this mess. I knew he would still need plenty of rest the next day, but I needed to get him to a hospital.