We love to go fishing. Many years ago we decided to take the day off and head for Dead Indian to go fishing. We had with us our three daughters and Granddad. Our daughters were ages 12 through 15 and Granddad was in his early eighties. (This information comes into play.) We had determined to head into a very inaccessible part of Dead Indian Creek which is only arrived at if one knows where to get off the beaten path and head down through the split in the cliffs. It is not a trail for beginners: actually it is not a trail at all.
We began our day at dark-thirty so we would have plenty of time to get the best fishing. Our hike down into the canyon was uneventful and quite fun as we slid over boulders and hung onto tree branches as we made our descent into the canyon. Once there our reward was immediate for even the girls were catching fish. The rose hips were abundant and the wild raspberries scattered here and there. It was exactly the getaway we had hoped for …until that fateful moment when Brian’s foot caught under a hidden root while going down a very soft dirt bank to the creek. As one foot kept sliding the other was pulled back . He clearly heard the snap of his ankle bone. Word quickly spread up and down the creek that Dad had broken his ankle. We gathered to assess our situation. The closest flat place to get him to was a large flat rock in the middle of the creek. Once there we determined indeed the bone was broken and we would need to head home immediately. Jan had just returned from girls camp and having had a class in first aid She was totally prepared to help out. She had aspirin in her pack and a large bandana. We quickly rounded up sticks to make a splint to stabilize the ankle as much as possible as we began our trek out of the canyon. Granddad figured his best help would be to just get himself out as it was such a difficult trail. Marie was chosen to take all the packs and fishing gear back to the truck as fast as she was able.then return to help us with Brian. (A daunting task for a 14 year old to do alone in the rugged Wyoming wilderness.) The rest of us would begin the task to get Brian out of the canyon.
Because of the steep terrain and absence of a trail we found only one could assist him at a time. Christy was too small to help by herself so she would try and clear a path for us to follow . Jan and I took turns being his crutch on one side with a stick for the other side. This hopping along was brutally painful because of the constant jarring to the ankle. Brian soon found the easiest on his ankle was to crawl!
So we began doing a rotation of Brian crawling until he could not , then Jan and I would support him to hop along. The secret rift in the cliffs went from being a way to keep the rest of the world out to keeping us in. We slowly made our way up it . However, it was very narrow . Only one person would fit. Brian was on his own. We all were in tears as we watched him drag himself through the remains of a winter- kill elk carcass that filled the gap. The big boulders we happily slid down coming in became a major challenge as well. The hanging tree branches were our saving grace . Jan would keep him steady from above and I would steady his foot hold from below. Inch by inch we kept moving forward and upward. The minutes turned into hours. Nearly totally exhausted, we finally reached the top of the canyon where the terrain was much flatter and there was a trail.
Marie returned to tell us Granddad was getting close to the truck and was ok. (That also was a nagging worry). We took a break and ate a little lunch that we had kept with us. We located a strong branch that we could have Brian sit on and we would carry him. It sounded like a good plan, so , after resting and having Marie to help we began our new strategy. Most of the time there was enough room for the four of us to carry Brian at the same time, two on each end of the log, Brian in the middle. We would carry him as far as we could then he would crawl. By now his hands and knees were bleeding even though we had wrapped them with a torn up shirt. He would crawl until he collapsed then we would put him on the log again and carry him until we could not, always moving forward. This plan worked ok until the horrible instant the log broke and dropped Brian completely on the ankle. He let out a cry of agony and for an instant time stopped as we processed what had happened.
We knew we needed a green branch that would not break. Therefore we needed the Dandy Saw that was in the truck. Again, we knew Marie was the best choice to again run to the trailhead to retrieve the saw. By now we were within a couple of miles so it would not be as bad as before. The rest of us continued the hobbling crutch,/ crawling routine as we knew we had to keep moving. Upon Marie’s return we cut a good sized green branch that would hold my 6’2'' husband. By alternating carrying and crawling we eventually made it to the truck. An hour trip back to town soon found Brian in surgery with several pins in his ankle.
Moral of the story: Always take the Dandy Saw!
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