The Whitehorse hospital doc finally came back to the exam room carrying the x-ray. “You broke your hand,”he said far too matter-of-factly.  “The good news,” continued the doc, “is that after consulting with the surgeon, he doesn’t think it needs to be pinned since everything lines up well. . .it’s an oblique fracture. So let’s get a cast on your hand.”

Damn. . . I was really hoping for just a bad, painful bruise.

And that is why I’m pecking painfully slow at the computer keyboard. Too tough to type upper case; good thing the apple knows to use upper case at the beginning of a sentence. bear with some abbreviated wrds and mispelings.

But it all could have been so much worse. Doc didn’t think the gash on my left shin required stitches. Bummer that the gauze leaked and left a crimson, abstract version of the big island of Hawaii on our bed sheets the night before. i didn’t show the doc the hand-sized scrape on my right thigh.

So what the hell happened?

For the sake of brevity (oh this is tough to keep it brief because I like to spin a story) I fell off a little pitch of a rocky spire. Stupid.  stupid decision to climb it. The handholds and footholds looked good. And I did note the scrabbly rock near the bottom. The rock pyramid was house-sized and I was tantalized by the challenge and the higher vantage point. And I have to admit some vanity rose up as well. Being a sixty something, I like to show myself and others that i can still scramble like a mt. goat rather than an old goat.

To get to this craggy mountain bump involved a long, bushwhacking hike through some pretty scrabbly ground that has, for the most part a pretty stiff grade where you are mostly leaning into the slope. Four of us, wife, nancy, friend banjo kim and her plucky, 16 year old, stone deaf husky, named  smoke and myself were trying to get to the top of needle mt.  nancy and I had been there  before but never going this route.

We were less than ¼ mile fro the top but decided to rest, collect some alpine flowers and snack. Also decided not to risk the tough climb. All of us were fine with the call it a day.

While we rested near the seductive spire, my inner dumbness nudged the moment of repose. Perhaps the spirit of George Mallory sidled into my dulled, decision-making process. (Mallory was the famous early 20th century british mtn climber who died on mt. Everest. When a news reporter asked Mallory why he wanted to climb Everest his now famous response was “because it’s there.”

Well if it’s good enough for George it was good enough for me. Sounds rational. And besides it was only about 20-25 feet up; not 29,000 feet.

I carefully made my way up. I noted some sketchy holds close to the bottom. I remember being super intentional. Almost guiltily, I glanced back towards nan and kim. Both were watching. I remember being relieved that nancy wasn’t questioning my tiny summit attempt. She is usually far more cautious. And sometimes I get frustrated in her black belt caution. So I was clear to go.

But now with this cursed cast onmy hand, and quiet time to ponder the fall,I wonder if subconsciously I was expecting, no wanting her to check my climb?

Long after that scrabbly foothold crumbled, (luckily only four feet off the ground) and long after we made the long slow trek back down to our truck, and long after kim went home after a shared supper, did nancy light into me. Mallory’s spirit sulked away like a wisp of Everest fog.

For full effect, nancy employed tears interspersed with corrosive cursing and Olympian gesticulations. And all of it was fully justified. It wasn’t enough that I had already claimed my stupid decision. An apology wasn’t enough. I had selfishly played mt. climber without clear thought on the ramifications of a bad accident. I had put us all at risk high up on Needle, hours away from any phone or road. A bad injury would require a helicopter evacuation that could only happen hours later and even then you would be racing good light.

My finger is getting tired of this keyboard tap dance so I need to wrap this up. Besides its taken far too long to write this post.

Lesson learned: be more patient with nancy’s more cautious stance. It’s in the interest of both us. We are so lucky to have each other and to share a desre to ramble around in scrabbly, wild places.

We leave the Yukon in 3 days. Catching the ferry to Washington. I reckon 4 days of cruisin’ the inside passage will be perfect for bone repair. Then we get a few days of hanging out with daughter, maren and so-in-law, ben at their home in Tacoma.

I guess this means there will be no mt. biking with ben. but he is a doc so maybe?????

Filed under: Uncategorized