"Where am I?" I said, as I groggily opened my eyes. It was dark, wherever I was. In a cave? Outside? What time was it? I didn't have my watch. As I became a bit more aware of my surroundings, I noticed some trees were covering me and felt a large rock or cliff behind me, and I heard the chorus of insects. 'So Iím outside, and it's night,' I thought to myself. 'But I still don't know where I am.'
I tried to get up, but excruciating pain shot through my left leg. I had another clue. I was injured. Was it a fall? A crash? I didn't know. My head was throbbing.
I tried to crawl around, looking for clues. My eyes were pretty well adjusted, and I could make out an embankment some feet above me. 'I must have rolled down and somehow lived,' but how long had it been? Minutes? Hours? Days, or even weeks? I had no recollection of what had happened prior to me waking up.
I debated trying to fall asleep, but with a possible head injury, I somehow knew that wasn't a good idea.
I had an important decision to make. Did I try to do something to keep myself awake, like singing, and risk attracting the local wildlife, or did I stay quiet, risking falling asleep and having an animal find me unexpectedly? I felt like I was in a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. "If you try to stay quiet and still, turn to page 78. If you make as much noise as possible to keep yourself awake, turn to page 92." I felt like either page I turned to would have only four words, "You died. The End." Unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury of sneaking a peek at the options to see which had the more favorable outcome.
I finally decided that since most animals are more afraid of people than we are of them that I'd make noise to try to stay awake. Besides, I recalled something about how singing scares away bears. I figured my singing would scare anything away.
I don't know how long I sat there, singing everything from "The Alphabet Song" to "The Lord's Prayer," but suddenly I head a twig snap. I quieted, trying to detect from where the sound was coming. "H-hello?" I tentatively called out. Anybody there? All I could hear were the footprints of an unknown creature. Then there was an eerie silence. I strained my ears again. "It was probably just my imagination." I whispered to myself.
Finally I could see it getting lighter outside. As I watched the sun rise in the east, I began to get a sense of direction. I looked around and spotted a backpack. 'That must be mine. I wonder if I have maps in there?' I crawled to my backpack, with my limp left leg declaring its protest.
I dug through the contents of my pack and found a trail map. Judging by the location of the sun, the map's compass, and the topographic lines indicating elevation change, I determined that I must have fallen while hiking on the trail, and the trail was up on the cliff somewhere. I scrounged around and found a first aid kit. Using the ace bandage and a shirt, I formed a crude splint for my leg. Again I heard footprints. I looked up to see a bear with her cubs a few feet away. I made some noise, whooping and hollering. She looked at me and walked the other way with her cubs behind her. I let out the breath I had unknowingly holding in.
"Hello? Is someone down there?" My attempt to scare the bear away must have attracted someone's attention on the trail above me.
"Yes!" I shouted. "Where am I?"
"Don't you worry about that right now. Let me get you some help."
My guardian angel scrambled down the rocky embankment while his friend got help. Soon, I saw my rescuers.
"Take it easy. We're here now. You don't have to worry." I knew I'd find out what had happened soon enough, but at that moment, I felt at peace. I knew I would be ok.
"He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, and covers me there with his hand," I sang as the paramedics attended to me.
Lyrics from "He Hideth My Soul" by Frances J. Crosby
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