Broken Bones

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Scree Bowl we had to traverse

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My son Noah crossing a river on a log. Most often we do it by rock/boulder hopping or just wading right through it.

I've broken my left foot twice in the backcountry and each time was quite the adventure.  While my son Noah may have a different version of one of my stories, this is what I'm sticking to.  The first time was in Cascades National Park.  We had just spent several days out in the backcountry, but it was over July 4th weekend and there were lots of people out (we go into the backcountry to get away, so this was not our favorite trip.  Still, it was beautiful country and we always enjoy each other's company.  On the way out we had to cross a river and I should have known better than to trust a wet rock without securing footing first.  I slipped and went down and knew immediately that I'd broken my foot.  What to do?  Wrap it with duck tape as fast as possible (to get it to fit back into my boot), give up pack weight to Craig (who can carry an enormous load) and continue on my way.  I still had 13 miles to go to the trailhead...

The second time was when I was in Alaska, and it was one of three times I cried while on that trip.  Yep, I'll admit it.  There are no trails in Wrangell-St. Elias, so we are following map and GPS coordinates to find our way.  Sometimes we were lucky to follow an animal trail.  This was one of those days.  The bush pilot had warned us about this bowl of scree (shards of loose stone) that we would have to traverse.  The bowl was huge and had varying colors, following the different geological layers, and the pilot who'd flown us into the backcountry told us we had to stay within a certain layer for the best stability.  There was a small goat trail, which was our best option for success, across this layer.  The goat trail is about half the width of one of your feet, so it does not provide you with a great deal of purchase.  Well, it was tense, to say the least.  The focus required to stay upright was immense and we were moving slowly - falling meant falling far and getting very hurt.  Halfway across the bowl, nothing but air to my left, I slipped.  Thinking fast, I jammed my right pole into the earth but was down in a crouch on my right leg only; my left leg was dangling!  There was nothing to put my left foot on to give me leverage to rise and move on.  Thankfully, Roddy came up behind me and jammed his own pole above my left foot, which allowed me to use his pole as a step.  It was exhausting, we made it...but it was not the first time Roddy would save my life in the backcountry...

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