So it's another ordinary day and my friend calls me up to ask me if I want to go hiking. I think to myself, well I want to do more to exercise and it has been a while, but hiking? It's been years since I've done anything like that.
"Are you trying to kill me?"
"Wow, I just love how you said yes so quickly and with such enthusiasm." Luckily I knew he was kidding."Fine, see you later." Well, okay we are going hiking now, this will be interesting. Of course the irony being that just after, I got on the phone with my mom and she is telling me about this show is watching about these survivalists in different situations and one happened to be in an emergency hiking situation.
"Make sure you wear bright clothing, bring a jacket in case it gets cold. Also bring food and water so you have some if you are out there for a while."
"Yes mother I know, I'll be fine."
I begin to get ready remembering what my mom had been nagging about a few minutes before and put some granola bars in the bag along with some water, and put on long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. I grab my hat, keys, and sunglasses and I'm out the door.
About half an hour later we get to the beginning of the hiking trail and I see that huge mountain. Fuck me.
"Yup, you are definitely trying to kill me."
My friend, Hunter, just laughs and we start our small journey. The nice thing was that there were a number of other people around, but more importantly there were a lot of dogs. Some of them would just walk past us without a care and then there would be some that would look at us, expecting us to pet them. One actually did come to me for exactly that and I was more then happy to do so. All while Hunter was too busy having me take pictures of him posing by the edge of one section of the mountain. We are about to continue and I see the next part of the path.
"Um, that's really steep." Of course this is where my small fear of heights kicks in along with the thought that physically my muscles are going to be screaming at me the whole way up.
As we start up to the top every now and then I have to tell Hunter to stop so I can take a breathe. He must hate me for how much I've stopped. About half way up I can't tell if it's me being dramatic or the fact that despite how small my frame is I am in no way "fit." Every part of my throat burned, I was having a hard time breathing just a little, and I was already sweating. How sad. Now in my mind, by the time we got to the very top it felt like we had been going for about an hour and a half at least. In reality it was maybe half an hour.
"See, you didn't die. Wasn't that easy." I just looked at him before I drank half the bottle of water I had. At that point I could have killed him for torturing me. I stood there for a minute to get my heavily throbbing heart to calm down and also take in some of the view. I do have to say that the view was amazing. You could see so much of the world just from one small spot and with the help of the sunset, wow. "Okay, come on, let's keep going."
"Please tell me we are at the highest part of this."
"Oh thank God!" Again he just laughs at me. For a while we walk on more leveled ground, but there is also less people around now. Okay.
As we continue going it starts to get dark and seeing as how neither of us had real flashlights, we had to get moving. We begin our journey down and I'm struggling to see. The world off the mountain is beautifully illuminated but the space directly in front of me is hazy and jagged. Not to mention that the way down was almost as steep as the way up.
"Um Hunter, my fear of heights right now is really kicking my ass. And the dark is not helping."
"Give me your hand I'll help you." I feel bad having him help me down but surprisingly it doesn't make me feel much better. I'm still barely breathing, my heart is racing, and my legs are starting to feel like jello. Then to make matters worse he slips.
"Fuck are you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah I just lost my footing for a second."
"Okay you just go and I'll get down on my butt, I don't care. Because if you fall while you're helping me then we are both going to fall."
"Okay." Not one second later, he falls, and very hard. "Aaahhh!" He had fallen about three or four feet down.
"Oh my God, Hunter! Please tell me you are okay!"
"Sorry Sarah, I can't do that." Now I am panicking. This is my worst nightmare coming true. I try to get to him but am terrified of getting hurt myself because then we both would be really screwed.
“What’s wrong? Did you hit something? Can you move?” I’m praying that he says it’s just a “flesh wound” like he idiotically does when he gets a cut or something, but I already know that’s not the case. I just don’t want to hear the words.
“I hurt my back, and if I try to move at all I’m going to be in even more pain. I need you’re help to get up.”
Fuck. FUCK. FUCK! Everything in my body turns to stone but my brain keeps telling me I have to get a grip. I try very carefully to slide down to him. There is so much sand I almost can’t even feel the rock underneath it all. It takes the longest five minutes of my life to get to him. Then I notice from the little I can see it looks like there is something dark under him. I put my hands there to see what it is that he maybe fell on. It was warm and wet. I put my fingertips to my nose to smell it begging for it not to be what I think it is... it’s blood. And from what I can tell there seems to be a lot of it.
“What are you waiting for help me up?”
Do I tell him? If I do we may both get more panicked but at the same time I don’t know exactly why he’s bleeding, and so much. I could end up killing him just by getting up.
“Hunter don’t freak out, but I don’t think I can get you up.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“You’re bleeding a lot, and I don’t know if what you fell on punctured anything important or if you still laying there is keeping you from bleeding out.”
“Sarah, get me the hell up...”
“Just get me up! You are not going to be able to find help on you’re own and it’s either I die here slowly with very little chance of rescue or we get up and risk me still dying but with a much better chance of getting help. Either way you need to call 9-1-1 so that they will be here by the time we get off this goddamn mountain.”
“Okay, okay." I grab my phone and frantically dial 9-1-1. My hands are shaking as I wait to hear a voice on the other end of the line.
"Sorry we are unable to make your call." It's an automated machine. I check my phone to see that I have no service.
"I have no service so I can't get through to anyone." My eyes begin to water as I feel our chances of getting out of here anytime soon begin to lessen. "What about your phone do you think you can get service?"
"My phone died about ten minutes ago..." Now I could here in his voice he was starting to lose faith too. This can't be happening, it just can't be.
"Okay. I'm going to lift you up in three ready?"
"Fuuccckkkk!!!!!" Both of us almost start hyperventilating, him from the pain, and me from being the one who caused it. I grab my phone again and turn on the flashlight. Apparently he fell on a really sharp rock and it got him right next to his spine. "Well? What's the damage?"
"It doesn't look like the rock directly hit you're spine but it was close enough to where I think I can see it. God I really hope that's my brain playing tricks on me." I begin to feel nauseous at the site.
"Why the hell would you tell me that?"
"I don't know, I'm panicking too right now okay. We need to tie something around you though to try and slow down the bleeding." I begin to take off my shirt, seeing as how I don't have a jacket with me. Plus I have seen enough crime shows and horror movies to know that when you are bleeding a lot, you tie something above the wound.
"What are you doing you're going to need that."
"No, you are still losing blood so you are going to get cold, and all my panicking is making me feel really hot right now so I'll be fine." He gives in and let's me tie the shirt around him. I tie it as tight as I can around his waist about an inch or two above the wound. He groans, grinding his teeth as he does so he doesn't yell in my ear. "Okay, do you think you can move now. I don't know if you should actually stand up, but maybe slide down on your but until we get to more level ground."
"That will take at least three times as long, -"
"But then you risk getting hurt again, or me, and in your current condition I can't count on you to be able to help me." Now he's the one just angrily staring at me. He hates to be wrong.
We have been sliding down the mountain for about twenty minutes and I can't see a thing. I can't even use the flashlight on my phone at this point, it only has ten percent battery left. That's my only hope of calling the police when we get off this damn mountain.
"Do you know about how much longer until we get to the bottom?"
"I don't know maybe another hour at the rate we're going. Can we stop for a minute I'm getting really tired."
"Oh no no no. Bad idea, that is not good. Time to get up."
"What's your problem now?"
"You getting sleepy means your body is starting to shut down. If you fall asleep you die, that's my problem. Now get up." I stand up behind him and try to lift him from underneath his arms. Ugh, he's so heavy. "Come on you have to help me out here!" Even with his help we struggle to get him up but we manage to do so. I wrap his arm over my shoulder so he can lean into me but the added weight is making me feel even more paranoid about falling. We start moving slow but are thankfully making better time then when we were sliding on our butts.
"Wait. Did you hear that?"
"I feel like I just heard a wolf howling."
"Don't you dare say that to me and if you are joking I'm going to kill you for real."
"No I'm being serious we need to move very quickly." I can feel his body tense up as he moves forward to quicken his pace. He really is being serious. Just when I thought things couldn't get worse right now. As we pick up the pace I feel myself breathing less and less, as if doing so will make me lighter on my feet or something. Next thing I know I trip and fall face first over a ledge.
"Hunter!" I think I heard him fall to but the only thing I can feel is a bunch of branches poking and scratching at my legs and stomach as I desperately hang onto the ledge I just fell off of.
"Sarah, where are you?" His voice sounds kind of faint.
"I fell off the ledge, help me, I can't hold on much longer. And these branches aren't going to hold me up if I lose my grip." Something begins to touch my hands.
"Hold on Sarah I think I feel you, is this you?"
"Yes that's me."
"Okay grab my arms and see if you can push yourself up with your feet or something." I do as he says. After a couple tries of finding my footing I get myself back up on the ledge. I give myself a minute to lie there on the ground and catch my breathe, happy to know my life just didn't end at the very bottom of that cliff. I feel around and realize that the rock where the trail was continuing had turned right where I fell off.
"Hunter, next time we have to be more careful, there are some narrow turns here." All I get in response is a low groan. "Hunter?" I feel around some more until I feel his body next to me. His skin is starting to feel clammy. "Hunter! No please don't. WAKE UP!" After enough shaking his arms and slapping his face he does for a moment.
"Leave me alone, I'm so tired." He's slipping away. Now my body really goes to freak out mode and my eyes begin to sting from the dirt and tears. I have never been more afraid in my life. Grabbing his arms I try to drag him down the rest of the way. Of course going down the mountain forwards was bad enough now doing so backwards... But I couldn't bare the thought of leaving him, or being left alone.
"Okay we are getting off this mountain and I am getting you some help. You can't die on me you just can't." I lose my footing again and hit my knee. "Ouch!" This time it wasn't too far down or over another ledge so I wasn't in to grave of danger.
"Gggrrr..." What was that? It sounds close, but only about five feet away. I grab Hunter again and check to see if it was him. "Grrr. Don't you hear it? The wolves are out." I hear the sound again but this time it didn't come from my half unconscious friend. And this time it was closer, maybe three feet away. A hard lump forms at the base of my throat and I only have one thought. RUN.
Getting up on my feet I grab Hunter again and do my best to run away from the sound. The fact that gravity is taking affect is helping a little, but if those are wolves chasing me I am just barely out of reach. All of a sudden I get jerked backwards. It got a hold of Hunter's foot. I try to reach for some sand and throw it in the direction of the growling. I'm guessing the sand scared it or at least got it annoyed because it snarled but the tugging on Hunter stopped. So I grabbed him and continued running.
Next thing I know I hit ground that is less jagged, we are still going downward but it's also a lot less steep. But I can still hear the growling behind me.
"Hunter I need you to get up. We are almost off the mountain and there are wolves following us." Nothing. "Hunter please they are right behind us."
"Okay, okay stop growling at me I'm getting up."
"That wasn't me Hunter. We need to run." The second he is fully up I start running. Behind us I hear the tapping of nails against the asphalt. "Run faster!" I can feel the wolf nipping at my heels, luckily there only seems to be one. And somehow we manage to keep enough out of its reach to not get tackled by it. Then I lose Hunter again. He just stops running and falls to the ground. I turn on the flashlight on my phone and see if there is anything around that I could use. I find a decent stick and just aim for the growling. I keep swinging until I hear a loud cry. Then I just hit the same spot over and over and over again until I hear a crack.
Is it dead. I hesitate for a moment before grabbing my phone to shine the light on it. My whole body is trembling. When I build up the courage to look at the gruesome scene in front of me I see a bloody mess of what was the wolf's head... and part of Hunter's foot. Because I couldn't see what I was doing at the time I didn't notice the wolf had his foot in its mouth as I was smashing its head to pieces. But by this time hunter is so pale, he doesn't have much longer. I try to dial 9-1-1 again.
"9-1-1 how may—" The line cut off.
"No. No!" I don't have the energy to scream and yet it feels like I am about to blow both of my eardrums. Looking around I think I can see the entrance to the trail. "Come on Hunter it's only about ten more feet away. With the little bit I have left I continue to drag him and somehow manage to get to the gate. I close it behind me, in any chance that there was anymore wolves left in there. Hoping that Hunter would be as safe as possible outside of the gate I run to the nearest house as fast as I can.
"Help I need help! Someone call 9-1-1 my friend is hurt!" A few people come out on the street to help me and immediately drop to the ground. I had used up all my energy and my body was far beyond exhausted. The rest was a blur. All I remember was someone asking what happened and I said: "My friend is really hurt, he's outside of the gate to the hiking train."
My eyes open to see an all white room. I'm in a hospital bed with beeping monitors next to me and the window curtains slightly open. It looks like it's about to get dark. I look to the other side of me and see Hunter's roommate Zack asleep.
"Zack... Zack!" I struggle to call to him but he stirs awake. He looks at me sleepily then when he realizes I'm awake he springs up and sits directly next to my bed.
"Holy shit you're awake." He gives me this sort of half smile that quickly fades. "You've been asleep for almost a week, the doctors weren't even sure if you were going to wake up.
"Where's Hunter is he okay?" He's avoids the question.
"I'm going to get the nurse and tell them you are awake." he leaves the room before I get the chance to ask again. I take another look around and there is a teddy bear holding a flower and a get well soon card with Zack's name on it. Where is Hunter. The door opens again and it's Zack followed by a nurse.
"Hey Sarah, glad to see you're up. How are you feeling?"
"Fine. Has anyone called my family to let them know I'm in the hospital? And more importantly where is Hunter?" They continue to avoid the question. "God dammit what happened to him, where is he?!"
"He's dead." Zack lowered his face as soon as he said the words.
"What?" My heart squeezes and again I feel like I can't breathe.
"When you both arrived at the hospital your friend had already lost a lot of blood. We tried reviving him but it didn't work. I'm so sorry for your loss. As far as your family, do you know a number I can call to notify them." I stay quiet and turn over sobbing into my pillow. I hear the door open and close again, I'm assuming the nurse left, then I feel someones hands on my arm and shoulder. I look up to see Zack's face turning red. I sit up to hug him and we just sit there crying.
To think that one little hiking trip not only got me attacked by wolves and put me in a small coma, but it took one of my best friends away from me. I'm never going hiking again.