Friday, July 06, 2012

Hiking Devil's Lake

The family camped at Devil's Lake Resort in Sauk County, Wisconsin recently.
We hiked up the West Bluff Trail.

You should know that the trails up in the Devil's Lake bluffs have no handrailings, no safety railings, and no warning signs.  As you swim at your own risk in the lake with no lifeguard, you also hike at your own risk.  There are points along the trail where the ground drops away from the century-old pavement that makes up the path.
Every year, someone dies from a fall from the bluffs.
Still, no safety measures.  And no lawsuits.

We hiked the same trail about five or seven years ago when the boys were 8 to 12 years old.  That trail horrified me as a mother.  I made The Husband lead the family, and I pulled up the rear so I could keep an eye on my children.  At every potential danger, The Husband pointed it out and hollered out a warning.

Along the way, the boys wanted to look over the edge to see how high we were.
We were very high.
We were looking down on flying hawks.
There was a huge flat rock that we allowed the boys to snake out onto.
They were flat on their stomaches and too afraid of heights themselves to try anything foolish, yet I was a nervous wreck until they snaked back and were on ground far from the edge again.

I think just about everyone can understand where I'm coming from, right?

That hike ended uneventfully... except for when we were nearly at the end of the trek walking along the edge of the lake and gave in to Elder Son's desire to leap along the lake's edge boulders, and he lost his footing and bashed his shin bloody on the rocks.

This year, we make the same hike along the same trail.
Again, The Husband leads and I pull up the rear.
This time, Younger Son points out the potential dangers and hollers them back to me specifically.

You see, in the past five to seven years, the boys have both grown taller than their mother, grown stronger than their mother, and grown more protective of their mother.
More protective partly because they are taller and stronger, of course, but I suspect mostly because their 45-year-old mother says things like, "I am a dainty flower," and "I'm old and feeble."

So, here we are hiking this trail peppered with life-ending potholes, Younger Son now as worried for me as I used to be worried for him.
Somewhere along the way, we stop to admire the view.  The Husband gestures to Devil's Lake from our lofty perch and points out how the colors of the water designate the lake's depth.
"I can't see it," Younger Son says.
"Here," I step aside so he can stand in my place where the view is better. 

But I catch my heel on a tree root and start to fall backward.
I am pretty sure I am not about to tumble down the bluff because I'm falling the wrong direction, however, I have no idea what I'm about to fall on.
Flat land?  A jagged tree stump?  Rock?
And I don't know which part of my body will hit it. 
Rear end?  Small of my back?  Skull?

All I know is it is going to be something.
And I'm going to hit it hard.

It is a frightening moment, and I shout outloud which startles the three men of my life.
But, they can see there's nothing terribly dangerous behind me.
And, they're too far away to catch me, so there I fall.
On my butt.
On a flat rock.

I sit there for a moment confirming to myself that I am fine and unhurt.

It is then that Younger Son and I both see it at the same time.
"Mother!  Are you okay?!?" he shouts.  "Are you okay!?!"
"Huh," I reply.  "Look at that."

My shoe is pointed the wrong way.

Younger Son's mind immediately shifts into emergency mode. 
What is the first aid for a twisted ankle or (oh god) a broken leg?  Do our phones get reception up here?  How soon could an ambulance get here?  How could an ambulance get up here?  Shouldn't there be blood?  How come she's not bleeding?  Can the three of us carry Mother down the trail, and how do we navigate the narrow areas that drop off down the bluff?  Oh god, her foot is on backwards!

Meanwhile, I calmly reach for my shoe, pull it off the tip of my perfectly fine foot, and say, "Look at that.  I pulled my shoe clean off when I fell."

Younger Son falls silent.  Then he drops to his knees and hugs me.
"Oh, Mother... it looked like... I thought..."
When I realize how that backward shoe must have looked to him and what he was trying to say, I scramble to hug him back.  "No, no, I'm fine! I'm perfectly fine!  You were worried I'd broken my ankle?"
"Wow.  That must've looked scary."
Uncomfortable chuckle.  "Yeah."
"I'm fine.  I'm okay."

He helps me stand, assesses for himself that I truly am okay, and breathes a sigh of relief.
We all take a moment to debrief about the incident, laugh about it, then continue on our hike. 
All is well.

And Younger Son continues to point out steep drops off the side of the trail.


brandi said...

Motherhood. You done good!

Christie Critters said...

It is sooo cool when that happens. Stubble recently came home from an overnight party so that Mom wouldn't have to sleep alone in the house while The Bearded One was travelling.
I guess it is payback for how I looked out for him when he was young and defenseless and STUPID!

Moogie P said...

*sniff* What a wonderful parent/child story!

Except the part about the butt hitting a rock at full speed. Hope the bruise goes away siin.

Moogie P said...

Or soon. Whichever comes first.