Montana Wolf

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Deception to Massacre: Alive to Tell the Tale (or Two)

Linda and I threaded our kayaks along rocky cliffs and scenic outcroppings, headed to a favorite deserted island for lunch. It was high tide; strong currents swept across the channel to infamous Deception Pass as I slowed to take photos. The azure day was dreamy-idyllic as I rocked gently on molten waves. I heard them first. A puff of breath every thirty seconds or so. A small, gray fin suddenly protruded in the water twenty yards in front of me. Then another. Harbor porpoises had come to check me out, the first I'd ever seen, as my state of mind continued from earlier that morning. Life couldn't be more perfect, I'd penned in my journal. I'd started back to work on my book the day before. I was ecstatic. Nothing foretold what was about to unfold.

Most of the island beach was still under water but we floated over rocks and managed to land on a narrow swath of sand. We secured the boats and looked around for higher, sunny spots to perch for lunch. Binocs and camera attached firmly to my torso, I studied a large boulder for footholds and handholds and ascertained that it would be an easy, fun climb. I was halfway up the steep, slick rock, reached out my left hand and it failed me. I went down on my right (write) elbow so hard that an electric jolt passed through my entire arm. I laid still for several minutes giving the body every chance to recover. Checked my camera. One, two, three...I sat up into extreme rib pain and an arm I couldn't straighten. Not good. I told Linda I needed to get back, not giving words to what I feared the most. My right paddle barely touched the water as I steered through exposed rocks. Oystercatchers flew low overhead as we reached deeper water. Linda chatted away, sometimes out of earshot. I hung on every imaginary word as my body filled with adrenaline and blocked the pain.

Urgent care, nurses, and x-ray technicians followed. The Dr. was in disbelief as he held up the pictures of my right rib and elbow. "You kayaked back with these two breaks?" Yes, gingerly... from the island, across the channel of passing boats and their high wakes and into Bowman Bay, where I bee-lined for the park ranger and asked for help to lift the kayaks onto the car. He asked where I fell, that far-off island I pointed. "Deception Island," he said. Of course, I thought as I rolled my eyes. Deception's currents had me paddling in place a week earlier. I had delayed this trip a day to assure my body was rested. In between my dates with Deception I'd been tossed across a sailboat that had run against rocks in Massacre Bay off Orcas Island. Serious left arm, left rib pain and glad to be alive. I could have launched airborne into the sea. Quite the week. No wonder I'd started to write again.

I've never broken a bone. Now I have two. I sit on the bed in tears, cradling my heavily-casted elbow. "I'm so sorry," I say."What did I do to you?" It's taken two days for the adrenaline to drain from my bloodstream and feel some calm. My mind won't shut up as I backtrack-search for signs and omens. I pick up Tolle's Power of Now to buoy my determination to stay in the present. Meanwhile I can't get my hair into a ponytail and I'm trying miserably to brush my teeth left handed.

I cancelled an appointment this morning that would have taken me across the Deception Pass bridge that spans Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. Even if I could drive, I'm not ready for that neighborhood. Deception and I, we'll get our meeting of the spirits. Some straight talk and deep listening. As for now I can't put this into words except to say, thanks for the porpoise.


Thank you Carole, Hope, Linda, Lynne, Cap, Jeffrey and solid ground those first few hours.


  1. Wishing you healing. Keep breathing, in and out. Life will continue to unfold. You are writing beautifully.
    Love and gentle hugs,

    1. Keep breathing. yes inspire. inspiration. thank you Nance.

  2. Amazed you were able to make it back. Determination and adrenalin are amazing, aren't they?
    Be well - Emilie

  3. Not a good time to break something. I broke my arm in my mid 50s. One good discovery came out of it. Plackers flossing pics from Walmart and other grocery stores. They seem to be sturdier than the other brands and thus easier to use with the non-dominant hand. Take care of yourself. I also enjoy your writing and photos of your adventures.
    Enjoy the northwest....Linda

  4. yes. i am confined to the mundane to explore and cope with the simplest tasks at molasses-speed. Phew! Thank you LINda

  5. please search "arnica broken bones" for web and for images. God Bless!