Monday, December 05, 2005

Falling Over in the Forest

I've been out to Indian Ridge a number of times, and have always gone to the northern trailhead. The trail climbs from the road, across mixed terrains, and then is mostly flat the rest of the way.

About halfway up it crosses a drainage a hundred feet wide and made up of dirt and scree at about a 40 degree slope. It's hard for trees to get a grip, and so the resulting access to the sun is great for the underbrush. As is common on such a slope, blackberries reigned supreme, and had ruled for a very long time.

I was on my way back, and started across the clearing. The little rock and dirt trail was wet and slippery, and slowly collapsing beneath my feet. Downhill is to the right.

I carry my camera in my right hand, strapped around my neck and left shoulder. I slowly very slowly walked across the clearing, until the ground fell away from my downhill foot. I almost had my balance - I began rolling to the right very slowly. I instinctly cradled the camera, and reached out to the left to grab something.

Well, I was in the middle of an old growth blackberry patch. Everything vaguely grabbable has inch long thorns bristling, just waiting. I frantically scanned for enough space to grab, but it was already too late: when I pulled back from grabbing the thorny vine, I overbalanced completely, and performed a slow motion somersault into the bramble.

I ended up head down, back and right side down, supported a few feet from the ground by the grandfather of all blackberry bushes. My camera, nestled between my right arm and chest, was fine. I couldn't grab anything with my left hand, even if I was willing to perform such a folly. My legs were mostly immobilized by vines. Trying to twist my body jiggled me further into the brambles.

Well, it took a while, but by judiciously making gentle kicks, I was able to turn enough that I could reach out and wincingly pull myself upright. Finally crawling to the trail, I stayed on all threes all the way to the trees.

If you go there, to the northern trailhead, be careful: the road numbers on the forest service map are different from the signs. The shape of the roads makes it clear.

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