Suzanne N. Hammel: A memorable visit

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On a beautiful September 2007 day, we went hiking up the Fish Creek Falls trail with two friends. Even though I live below sea level in New Orleans, I remembered to sit and rest periodically on the way up to the aspen meadow. On our way up the trail, we met two bow hunters returning from an unsuccessful elk hunt.

On our return, the fun began. My left leg developed a shooting pain from my knee downward, making it impossible to walk any farther. Luckily, my husband's cell phone worked long enough to call 911. Our friends left to get the car, and my husband went in search of a less rocky area on the trail.

Sitting alone, with the shadows getting a wee bit longer, my imagination activated. I remembered the returning elk hunters saying they had seen elk. I pictured a moonlit scene with my white hair acting like a beacon attracting all sorts of wild animals. Being from New Orleans, with a large Snickers bar my only resource, I thought if a bear came after me I would smack it on the nose and scare it away. I came later to understand that technique sometimes works with sharks, not bears.

My husband returned, followed by Routt County Search and Rescue, numbering 12 to 15 people. Krista Check-Hill was the first to arrive, having run all the way up the trail. Two strong men were able to get me down onto a canvas structure resembling a pirogue (a Louisiana boat) unicycle.

The trip down was a piece of cake for me, thanks to the kind, reassuring, well-trained, all-volunteer rescue team. I will never forget "my" mountain rescue team, the Yampa Valley Medical Center emergency room personnel who assured me I would recover from a knee strain, and beautiful Colorado. Thank you all for your care and attention.

Suzanne N. Hammel

Metairie, La.

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