I am thankful

Last weekend my husband and a group of about 20 people drove up to Havasupai to hike into the canyon and stay for a few days. I never really understand what all the excitement of this yearly trip is about…I don’t love the heat and I am not the avid hiker like some! I do however enjoy any social setting with my friends and was pretty dang jealous that my husband was on this trip with a handful of my close friends and I stayed home with the kids! So, I guess this is what they’ve all been telling me about…is this Hawaii?? Seriously it can’t be here in Arizona.

My husband got some good shots of the beautiful falls you can see there. All of these images are right out of camera…and taken with our little point and shoot Canon, impressive!

It’s definitely a fear of mine when my husband leaves that something might happen to him, and this trip was no different, I silently worried the entire weekend for his and everyone’s safe return! Unfortunately, this year brought much more catastrophe for the group, putting a damper on the overall trip. After a long, rough hike on Saturday to Beaver Falls the group found themselves up above the falls and not able to get down low enough into the water. Everyone was hot and tired and they had kind of lost the trail. One of my favorite people, my good friend Alisa, saw an opportunity that she might be able to get down low enough allowing them to jump to the water. She started to climb down and unfortunately it wasn’t what she thought it would be and almost immediately she took a fall off the cliff about 15 feet landing on a small ledge below. She severely broke her ankle on impact and proceeded to continue to fall over the ledge, thankfully a man from Germany happened to be sitting there and was able to keep her from continuing on over the cliff for another 20-25 feet straight into the water. She hit the back of her head pretty hard, she was disoriented, in and out of consciousness at times and her body began to go into shock. Her ankle was severly broken, the back of her head bleeding and she was stuck on this ledge with no way feasible way to get her out. It took 4-5 hours for a helicopter to get word and get to her. Here’s the helicopter overhead.
This next shot was taken once the helicopter came lower, my husband said there was so much debris and sand flying around he had to just hold up the camera and hope he got the shot, he couldn’t open his eyes at all. The medic ended up repelling out of the helicopter down to Alisa and the others that were with her.

They splinted her ankle, put her on this metal stretcher, put on the neck brace and strapped her into position for rescue.

Next they put her into this big duffle bag before lifting her out of the canyon. The rescue team said this rescue was a 10 on a scale of 1-10 for how difficult it was in the narrow canyon. There was not much distance between the helicopter blades and the canyon wall.

The helicopter had been hovering waiting to come back and pull her and the medic out of the canyon. Once she was set, they came back. They made a couple of attempts lowering the rope to get it into the exact spot needed. Once they had her hooked up they realized the helicopter did not have enough fuel to complete the rescue. Unfortunately it was close to sunset and there was no where close to refuel. So, they unhooked her and had to leave her until the morning! She stayed all night in the canyon with the medic nearby and her husband by her side. Here is a shot with some of her support group on the ledge.

L to R, Alisa’s husband Jason, Sister in law Trisha, Alisa, Friend Steve (witnessed the fall), German friend who saved her life Patrick, my husband Reuben.

There were so many others who helped her though including some Arizona firefighters that happened to be hiking nearby, other friends of ours including Russ and Kristen who hiked most of the night getting supplies, food, water, blankets, back to those who had to sleep out in the canyon overnight. This was no easy hike, 6 miles really hard, crossing through water a few times. It’s hard during the day but most say nearly impossible at night. There were so many heroes, all of these people hiking in the dark that night and especially Jason for sitting up awake by her side all night, nearly getting knocked off the cliff during the rescue, and then hiking out alone after she was rescued the next morning! And of course Alisa for her bravery through the whole thing! She was not given ANY pain medication and managed to make it through the night despite having both her main bones in her leg completely broken at the ankle, she also had a dislocated foot! That doesn’t touch upon the discomfort from the fall and laying on a hard surface for about 15 hours. Thankfully, despite a long road to full recovery, she is ok. She was lifelighted to a Las Vegas hospital where they found no head trauma. She immediately underwent surgery and had metal bars put into her bones to secure the position of her foot and ankle until the swelling goes down when she’ll have another surgery to repair the damage. She stayed in the hospital for 3days and is home now. She’s still VERY weak and can’t be left alone as she’s not stable and sometimes gets faint.

I am thankful that her life was spared, she very easily could have died had Patrick not stopped her fall or if she landed differently. I am thankful that with so many prayers, she was able to make it through excruciating pain all night. I am thankful no one else was hurt and that the helicopter was able to safely pull her out of the canyon not injuring anyone else. I am thankful for life experiences like this that remind us to count our blessings and not take life for granted!

Sadly, that was not the last of the tragedy for the group of friends. Another couple on this trip found out after hiking out Monday morning that their little boy who had just turned 1 year old 2 weeks ago, passed away. It was a tragic accident. He was a sweet boy and obviously had another mission for his life. I had the opportunity to get to know more about him through wonderful pictures as I made a slideshow to music for his family. It was a tough project and has been a hard week for all. I will never understand why the Lord takes one life and spares another, I am thankful however, for the knowledge that there is a plan and that little Daxton is with his Heavenly Father now. I am thankful for his story to remind me and all of us that we are so blessed! Please pray for his family that they may find strength and healing in this tragic time. Pray for Alisa and her family as well that she may begin to feel better, find strength and eventually make a full recovery. And remember to be thankful…life is just too short!

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JaneJune 15, 2008

oh my goodness, that is quite a story. My prayers are with the family of the little boy. (I bet you will really be worried next time)

russandkatieJune 15, 2008

WOW!

[…] Last year was a very sad and tragic year for this trip, you can read about it here. […]

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