So to celebrate my birthday, I requested a weekend getaway to the woods. We found a lovely place near Hocking Hills in Ohio, and I was excited. On the second day of our stay, we ventured out to hike the 6.3 miles to see Old Man’s Cave and a few other sites. We really had little idea of where we were going, but it was my birthday, and I was ready for an adventure. Little did I know the biggest adventure would happen barely 50 yards into our trek. As we got started, I was chatting away, a bit self-absorbed because after all, it was my birthday. Then I see this older woman alone, likely in her late 60’s or early 70’s, with a walker on wheels. She was attempting to take a photo with her phone straight up to the sky as the trail provided so much coverage that when the light burst through the trees, it was gorgeous.
I get it lady, I have lots of those from our hike. Let me mention this again, this woman was alone. There were no other travelers near by. It was just her. And us. In the midst of our conversation, I see this woman’s walker start to roll. I have to add here, that she was about 5 feet from the edge with a 35* angle drop. In her panic, she began chasing the walker. Now I see she’s wearing a knee wrap, hindering her ability to bend this knee, and she’s struggling to take steps. We fall silent and I bust into a dead sprint. My partner is about a half step behind me. I realize it’s quite possible I’m going to watch a woman plunge to her death. I can tell you it was surreal and I get emotional thinking about it as I write this. In the time it takes me to get 20 yards, she has gotten the 5 feet to the edge of the drop off, is holding onto her walker (barely) with one hand and a tree with the other. She’s losing her grip on both quickly. I grab her and instruct her to let go of the walker, it is going to take her down. In steps my partner, who grabs the walker and shoves it back up the hill, then he grabs the woman by the hands. I have her by the waist. We all inch back up to the higher ground and stand quiet for a moment reeling in what just happened and more so, what could’ve happened. We began talking and she starts with how she just wanted to take a picture, how it was just so beautiful.
We figure out a way for both of us to hold her and for her to get the perfect shot. After all, seeing how this photo nearly cost her her life, she should leave with it. And it gave my partner and I the opportunity to stare at each other and communicate our shock, awe, and relief non-verbally for a minute. Once she was finished, we stood and chatted for a minute. I noticed a man about our age standing nearby, not approaching, but watching us. We kept talking and eventually the woman noticed the man. She became befuddled again, saying she had been “caught” and was now “in trouble.” Apparently this was her son who had told her to stay put while they went further up the trail. I don’t know the circumstances of him bringing is aging mother on the trail and leaving her behind with her walker,and I tried not to judge his choice. He was actually kind, and thanked us. As we began parting ways, we introduce ourselves. I tell her my name is Cinnamon, my partner introduces himself as Ed. She tells us her name is Linda. Linda. Linda that nearly died on my birthday. She says that as we continue on our hike, to “look for the miracles.” Ed quickly responds, “I think we just saw it.”
I’ll likely never meet Linda again, but I’ll not forget her. Or the feeling of watching her slowly slip down, panicking and holding on to what she thought was dear even if it caused her own demise. It makes me think about what do we all hold onto that if we simply let go, we would regain our footing?