Have you ever been invited to something that sounds awesome, but your intuition tells you that maybe this time isn’t for you?
That was me last Saturday.
A friend of mine invited me out to a hike for Canada Day and part of me really wanted to go, but the other part of me knows how experienced her & her bf are at hiking. She’s an ultra trail runner and he does tons of hiking, so right away everyone has TONS of experience over me. I tried to stress to her how inexperienced I am at hiking, but she assured me that we’d be doing a moderate hike. Ok, cool. I can do moderate. I’m fit (I thought) and I’ve done easy to moderate hikes/trails before. So, I decided to go. I really wanted to get out into the mountains, but I was also a little nervous at the same time. I asked my friend what to take and got my stuff ready.
Saturday morning, they pick me up and drive out to Mount Baldy in Kananaskis Country. The mountains look gorgeous, the weather is perfect.
The ascent was a little challenging, but still fun when we were under the tree line. A mostly visible/patted down trail, so I felt comfortable even though I was getting a bit of a workout. But then we reached a scramble/loose rock section and the difficulty level changed exponentially (for me). Half way up this first scramble I had a bit of a meltdown. I didn’t want to go on. A strange feeling came over me. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could do it, it was that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get down in those conditions. I’m not experienced enough, and at that point I really knew it. My friends encouraged me to go on, told me it wouldn’t be safe to leave me there. They were right, so, I plugged on. Ascending in the rock/shale was challenging, but I did it with taking a few breaks to catch my breath. But then we reached a mini summit and that’s when I decided I wasn’t going any further up. The last final summit looked extremely difficult and, again, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get down. This second spot was a little safer, so my friends were able to continue on up for the last summit.
At this point I cried. I was a little scared, and looking down I had this terrible feeling inside that the descent was going to be very challenging for me. My inexperience overwhelmed me. But then I pulled myself together so that I could take that time alone to enjoy the beautiful scenery in front of me. The mountain range was stunning. I was staring at absolute beauty on Canada’s 150th Birthday. I made sure to take it all in. During my wait I took some pictures, ate a snack, and texted my bf that I loved him. Shortly after my friends were coming back down and I started to descend.
The first descent wasn’t too bad. We went down the same way we went up and that went pretty well. At some point another hiker told one of my friends that a different way down the scramble/rocks would be easier. I will say here that it was not. When I had to start rock climbing down the side of a mountain (no experience in this too), I started to get really scared. I managed to keep going, but I was unhappy. This no longer was fun for me. Once we were down from rock climbing, it was time to attempt descending / scrambling down a really long stretch of rocks. I can’t even tell you how long this stretch was. Too long.
The first major scare was when my female trail runner friend was descending, a very large rock somehow got dislodged by other hikers from above and this rock was barreling down a mountain towards her. We watched this in slow motion in terror as she was able to jump out of the way at the last second. At this point, I was really not good. My heart stopped, I swear, and well, my legs were shaking like leaves. We had to go on, so we decided that we would each take turns until one person was out of the way of falling rocks/debris. There was 4 of us and 2 hikers with a small dog behind us. Everyone was shaken watching that rock barrel towards my friend.
Next the other 2 guys I was with went down half way one at a time. This took about 10 mins each because the scramble was quite difficult to navigate. Then it was my turn. Yes, I was scared. I was doing my best until I then started hearing all this screaming. I look up and there’s a large rock coming for me, I freak out and jump to my right away from it. It’s barely flying by me and then I feel another rock smash into my right leg. Fuck. I look down almost immediately and the contact point is blown up to the size of a baseball. There’s blood. It fucking hurts. I panic.
Right away I started screaming to the guys above to stop moving. I can’t see them from where I’m at. But I’m yelling at the top of my lungs. Stop moving. I’m hurt. Don’t go any further. I’m hoping they can hear me. I look down at my friends, and yell that I’m hurt, not sure at that point if I can walk (let alone “scramble”) on my right leg yet. My friend’s bf starts to rush up towards me. I’m panicking. I can’t move. I’m terrified about what’s happened to my leg and worried about the hikers above me all at the same time. I’m shaking like I’ve never shaken before. Full on panic attack mode.
My friend’s bf makes it back up to me and I show him my leg. Doesn’t look good. I scream again to the hikers above to not move. My friend’s bf tries to calm me. Tries to help me walk on it. My leg doesn’t like it, but I can put some pressure on it. We NEED to keep going.
I continue down the steep scramble mostly on my ass. This is difficult as my feet and hands keep slipping under the rocks and I get stuck and have to stand. I was convinced that I wasn’t going to be able to do it, that I was stuck there. Sliding down seems like it takes forever. My hands are getting shredded and I’m sure my pants are ripped and my ass is exposed. My friend’s bf keep coaching me down the scramble and I just can’t wait to get down and out of the way of more possible falling rocks. I don’t know if the guys above kept waiting or if they decided to go another way. Our way wasn’t the right way… for less experienced hikers, anyway. It took everything I had to make it down the scramble on mostly one leg. I was upset, scared, sore, and beyond exhausted. And, I was still shaking. I saw a mountain goat that I’m sure was mocking us. Honestly.
Once we got to the tree line all I could think about what getting back on the trail. My right leg was starting to hurt more and I wanted to put as little pressure on it as possible. Do you think we could find the trail? Nope. We were in the woods and somehow this felt safer, but in reality it’s not. We kept descending through woods, over rocks and branches, and just down down down. My exhaustion reached peak levels. I got a little bitchy. I was DONE with this hike. My friends were good and did their best to coach me on, I’m grateful for their help. At this point I’m not even sure how I got down the rest of the way, but the sight of the highway was beautiful. We did not find the trail again, but we were somewhat close. I couldn’t walk any further so my friend went to get the car.
Once in the car it was time to hurry back into the city because I was going straight to the hospital. The contact point blew up to the size of a baseball, I was bleeding, and the pain got exceedingly worse as my adrenaline wore down. I was very scared that it was broken. I started to worry about my running. My friend distracted me for the ride and we got to the hospital quick. Interestingly, I got through the queue pretty fast in the hospital and had X-rays and found out it wasn’t broken. Sigh of relief. Bone bruise, need to ice, monitor it for other serious issues, and no running. Ugh. But at least it’s not broken. And we’re alive. That’s what it important.
Overall, it was one of the scariest events I’ve ever been through. I spent a solid 2 hours scared and shaking and it’s amazing what even that can do to your body. I enjoyed the view, but I won’t be doing that again anytime soon. Nope, not even close. Through this I realized how important running is to me. I rely on it for so many reasons. Maybe that’s bad, maybe that good. I don’t know. I guess that’s for another blog post.
As I reflect on this now I wonder if I over reacted. I wonder if I could have been more calm. It’s hard to say, but I also know that you can’t really control a panic attack. What’s done is done. I’m grateful my friends helped me and I hope they know I feel like crap for all the bitching. But, I did my best and I’m just happy we made it through.
Have you ever felt strong intuition about something but ignored it because you felt silly? What did you do?