GR10: Stranded Hiker

Cold Spring TrailOn October 8th, I went for what was meant to be a quick hike up the Cold Spring Trail in Santa Barbara. I know the date because earlier that morning I had decided it was time for me to move on from the firm I’d help build. The purpose of the hike was to clear my mind and get to a calm place for the meeting I had called with my partners. I grabbed Stella from home and we headed up past several groups of hikers, including some families with young kids having lunch at the bench and a group of elderly hikers.

On the way back down, all the others were already gone, except for the elderly group. One of the older ladies was having trouble making it down a rocky section with medium sized boulders. In fact, she was stuck. She was afraid to take a step forward and fearful that if she sat down she wouldn’t be able to get back up. Her friends waved us past, but I wanted to make sure they’d be ok. Turns out the woman had injured her knee and any movement at all resulted in a lot pain, but also a lot of fear that she had done some real damage. Luckily it happened with only about a half of a mile left to the trailhead.

I offered to give her a piggy back ride down, but that would require me holding her up by wrapping my arms around her knees. Since that was the source of the pain, it seemed like a bad idea. Instead we opted to have her wrap her arm around my neck and shoulders, allowing me to sort of carry her down in an upright position. It was hard work and I was concerned about being late to such a potentially contentious meeting that I had called, but I didn’t see any other way of getting her down to the road. To be honest, what weighed on me more than anything was the fact that I was soaked with sweat from the hike that preceded this episode and this poor woman was forced to lean on me like that.

Anyway, it was slow going, but we made it to the trailhead where a doctor happened to be jogging by. She put the injured hiker at ease as we slid her into the back seat of her friend’s car. They all wanted her to go to the local emergency room, but she was concerned because she hadn’t any insurance. She asked them to drive her home to her husband, but they insisted that she have her knee looked at by the emergency room doctors.

As I said goodbye, she broke down in tears thanking me for helping her. She asked for my name and number, wanting to repay me in some way, but I refused. I said, “You’ll have paid me back in spades when I see you passing me on this trail again. For now, just listen to your friends and get yourself better.”