Sunday, October 23, 2011

Summer vacation Part 3

Boy, 12, Rolls, Falls 600 Feet

What I did on my Summer Vacation
By David L. Green
Part III

Strip mining was a terrible thing. Many of the mountains in my home state and other places around the country were scarred for decades. It involved digging into the side of the mountain to get to the coal. The dirt, rocks and slate that were useless were then summarily dumped over the side of the hill and just left there. Eventually nature caught up and trees and bushes grew into the loose mixture and covered the awful scars that were left.
This gorge was one of those sites where several feet of loose rocks were just laying where they had been dumped.  You can imagine what it was like with layer upon layer of flat rock just laying loose on the steep slope there.
As I entered the gorge, the rocks beneath my feet started to slip and slide over the loose rocks below. The faster I tried to move the faster the rocks would slide.
There is a theory that if you’re slipping downhill, you should reverse your direction and start running uphill. I tried that with no effect – I just continued to slip and slide more quickly downhill.
My next thought was to sit down and spread out to try and catch more real estate and thereby slow my fall. All this did was to help me catch the very lip at the end of the slide for a brief second before tumbling into open space.
The next few minutes seemed like a lifetime passing in only a few seconds – if that makes any sense at all.
From this point on, I have only flashes of memory, bits here and there that I have pieced together with the stories I was told by others who were there.
I must have already hit the bottom of the first cliff (of the three cliffs I rolled over) because, as I rolled, I remember looking up only to see the side of the mountain going round and round. This part became a nightmare that haunted me for years.
Being caught in an unbelievable, surrealistic situation you find yourself or, at least, I found myself, literally saying out loud, “What is happening to me?”
Of course, the answer was painfully obvious. So I determined that I had to do something to stop this roll.
As I rolled, I could look downhill every few frames in this horror film. Below me, I saw a small tree that was in my direct path.
“That’s it! I have to catch that little tree and I’ll be fine.”
I realized that I would have to catch that tree to have any chance of stopping my roll towards what I was convinced would be a painful death.
I actually did it! I actually timed it perfectly so that I grabbed the yearling as I barreled past it. Amazing!
Unfortunately, the next thing I remember is indelibly burned into my memory: I saw my hand in front of my face, as the rest of the world spun wildly beyond, firmly grasping the tree and the roots of that tree clearly at the bottom of my fist.
Great … just great.

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