Saturday, October 24, 2020

A lucky, unlucky day

 As this blog is supposed to be about a "ramble through the aft end of life", I suppose I should mention the things that don't go so well along with those that do. Today was one of those days which, on the surface, appeared rather unlucky but which was actually very lucky. 

Annette and Bethany had gone shopping and, the weather being fine, I had decided to pick up my camera and take to the bush. I drove to the Glentui Picknick Area about 15km from home. It was a Friday, school was in, so I expected to have the place pretty much to myself. There were three cars in the car park and the occupants all seemed to be off on one of the several walks into the bush. In deference to my age and diminishing physical ability, I decided on the "Loop track" - about an hour's steady walk, longer if I was taking pictures.

The "Loop track" follows two sides of a valley, descending to the valley floor in three places to cross small rivers, before rising again by a couple of hundred meters to resume its course partway up the valley side. It's not a particularly challenging track, but it's not a flat walk either – some of the sections are particularly steep, and the winter's crop of fallen trees, had left several obstructions.

Before the fall. I love the way that the sun reaches down through the canopy to light up little spots like this.

It was on the second river descent, that some loose gravel caused my right foot to skid out from under me. Everything went into slow motion and, before hitting the ground, I had time to observe my foot making an absurd angle to my leg, swear inwardly, and conclude that I likely had a broken ankle. Fortunately, my bum broke the fall and I found myself lying on my back with the world proceeding at normal speed.

That was the unlucky part, compounded by my own silly decision to walk in sneakers, rather than taking the time to put on my tramping boots. The boots would probably have slipped too but would have much better supported my ankle during the fall. The lucky part was the unbelievable discovery that I hadn't actually broken my ankle. Not only was it not broken but, after a few moments, I could stand and even put a little weight on it.

Forward or backwards? I was about half-way through the walk so I opted for forward. A sign at the next branch said 35 minutes to the car park, I figured that at hobbling speed that would likely be closer to two hours and I was less than certain that I could keep going that long, but sitting and waiting on an empty track didn't seem like a good choice either. So, I reconfigured my tripod as a walking aid and pressed on.

The flat sections were not too bad, but navigating the remaining ups and downs was challenging, excruciatingly slow, and frequently accomplished using an ungainly bum-shuffling technique. Sure enough, it took about two hours to get back to the car – a most welcome sight when it came into view.

On balance, luck held the day. Yes, unlucky to have fallen; but lucky not to have broken an ankle and lucky not to have had to call out Search and Rescue. Next time, boots – definitely, but should I still be venturing out into the bush alone at 72 years of age? Not sure that I'm ready to give that one away yet.

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