You admire the brazen wilderness as you hike—frozen
waterfalls cascade down sheer silver cliff faces, pine trees glow with light of
an artic sun, the ocean glimmers like a quilt sewn of infinite diamonds in the
distance. Without warning, He comes fleeing down the mountain, paying no heed
to the ice-covered rocks over which He slips with reckless abandon. Help! He
cries. Help me! You and your compatriot turn, your friendly banter about Buffy
the Vampire Slayer interrupted by the alarm sounding from above. You are
ready to spring to action to help a fellow hiker in need, quite literally
hopping up rocks to reach him. But you are also two young women, alone in the
wilderness; you must be wary of predators, of all types. Correction: you
had been alone, but then He showed up, sliding from the boulders like
a corporeal avalanche.
You can see the crimson leaking from his face immediately; your eyes are trained to that color like a toro from the running of the bulls in Spain. You scramble up the rocks to him, thanking the inventor of the crampons a million times under your breath. He is youngish, with blonde hair and a fluffy goatee, crystal blue eyes and glasses that are laced with the spiderwebs of broken lenses. As you perform rudimentary trauma and neuro exams, He regales you of his fall on the ice while hiking the stunning Acadia National Park in winter. How, a few feet further, He would have slid right off the edge of a cliff into the nothingness below. You respect him more now (though He had never even heard of spikes, the poor fellow!) because He must be as crazy as you to hike in this weather. Lucky for him all is intact, except for a small but mighty laceration at the left temple, which you clean and bandage with the first aid kit you stock before every hike. You knew it would come in handy one day, you clever girl!
You offer to guide him down the mountain and bestow upon him one of your spikes—you can’t give him both or you, too, would need a trauma evaluation with how slick the ice is. Your compatriot glares at you, and you’ve been friends long enough to know that this is her don’t-get-us-murdered look. You’ll try your best.
Somehow you make it down the mountain unscathed, decidedly unmurdered, and you’ve managed to keep both of your charges alive. Your new friend makes it to the local ED for a few sutures and a story of survival that will become increasingly embellished in the years to come. And you, going for a hike without even looking for wilderness medicine, have a new wilderness medicine story of your own.