That pretty much describes my fall at Tinker Falls this past weekend.
Since it was such a brilliantly perfect day, sunny and 70, AND since I was feeling good, we sought out a new place to walk and take some photos. We parked in the small lot across from the trailhead on Rt. 91. It was .25 miles to the falls, along a flat, wide trail. That’s about 1400 steps or a walk to the back of a huge Wegman’s store twice. The trail itself was solid and tamped-down and seemed to be ‘accessible’ for chairs and scooters. I was happy thinking that the beauty of the gorge could be accessible to my non-walking friends. Benches were nicely spaced along the trail, too. And there were porta-potties at the trail head. (They were right along Rt 91 which was unnerving! I mean, imagine being inside when it was hit by a car??)
The trail ended less than 50 yards from the falls. I figured that I could get a great photo if I just stepped into the stream bed and walked a bit farther. The bed was mostly dry and I was careful when stepping on shale which has a habit of slip sliding away underfoot. But I continued on even when my gut said “Far enough. Use your telephoto from here.” My ever 25 year-old mind shoots back, “No! Those other people were scrambling up, so why can’t I? Besides I shake too much to use the long lens…” And up I went. I spurned my husband’s attempts to help me along the way, and felt secure balancing myself along the boulders. I stepped on an outcropping to ‘scramble’ up a nice flat rock (as if I could scramble!), and inched my way around to crawl up when I was hit by a wave of vertigo. Really?? Now?? I was hardly 20 feet off the ground! A flurry of unsummoned emotions came—anger, fear, more fear. I called out to Vinny, “I can’t look up. Or down. I’m so dizzy; I’ve got to get down.” And he said, “You’re fine.” Funny that sometimes he knows how to push me for my own good; just not this time. “No, I mean it. I really mean it.” Hearing me repeat that, he understood and helped me down one level. I sat against a rock, calmed down and took some shots of the ravine. It looked so beautiful with the late afternoon sun streaming through the woods. A perfect setting for a scene in a movie, I thought. A barking dog snapped me out of my reverie and I surveyed the rock-scape for the best way to get down. Which really wasn’t far down, but given my ‘condition’ and the bionic knee I don’t trust, I figured I’d use the bump-down-on-the-bum method if I needed to. And I did for the first slope. Vinny watched over me to get me across the rocks and helped me to the dry rock that was sloping down a bit. I said I didn’t like that rock (an odd thing to say, even for me). And then…
I don’t know exactly what happened, but I remember my knee ‘popping’ and then I was lying in the creek! Vinny said it seemed to happen in slow motion–I fell and hit the first rock, bounced once, then rolled and the next ledge, bounced, rolled and hit the water. My first words were, “Is my camera alright?” I reached into my shirt and handed it up to him, then my phone and my water bottle. At that point Vinny said in his still-Brooklyn voice, “Getup.” When I whined about my knee being wrecked and needing to go the emergency room, he said, “You’re fine. Now get up out of there!” And that really pissed me off. I really wanted to lie there, in that cold water, until I was rescued by someone nice. Then the thought of leeches in my jeans made me stand right up.
I got up with purpose and stomped out of the creek and to headed to the trail with fierce determination. I walked so well, so straight up and without staggering, that it seemed like the adrenaline from the fall had diminished my MS! Even in my soaked jeans and squishy shoes I kept pace with my husband! Along the way I let loose a barrage of anger—at MS, at being limited and clumsy, at creating another problem for myself , at being wet, and even anger towards the people who watched me fall and never once offered a word of kindness or concern. I never felt any pain in my leg until we were halfway home. (That adrenaline is obviously good stuff.)
The day after the ‘incident’ my knee was still swollen and my body felt bruised all over. But I’d go back again. As a matter of fact, I’ll revisit early next summer when the water is flowing stronger and I can get the photo I didn’t get this time. I’ll probably bring a tripod. And Vinny too.