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The Bigger They Are…

The bridge in the park in Carmine, Texas
It was lightly raining and I got out of my Jeep, global positioning receiver in hand.  Thursday morning in Carmine, Texas looks like Baytown… never.  It was totally devoid of activity and the tiny park around me was deserted.  I stood in the soft rain and looked at the rushing water fight against itself to get under the foot bridge down and away.

I wasn’t worried about my global positioning satellite receiver getting wet.  It’s a waterproof top of the line Garmin Oregon 650 and will pinpoint my location within 15 feet any place on earth.  I use it for geocaching; my hobby of choice. On the other side of the 40 foot wooden-planked bridge is a “cache” and I plan to find it and sign the logbook it holds. I was ready and felt strong.

As usual, I am by myself and in a remote location.  I know a lot about the right and wrongs of being in places of compromise and not having the proper resources, but this is a city park, right? It is a sad confession, but very often bad things happen in the most unexpected places and this day was one of those unfortunate days.

I see the geocache is approximately 450 feet away and crossing the bridge is the path I must take, so off I go. I pride myself on the hiking boots I wear. They are made by Timberline and this is my 3rd pair. With them I can walk on ice and have been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back with total confidence in their ability to stabilize my feet and balance.

Up I walked, actually enjoying the soft rain hitting me. No apparent evidence of a slippery slope and I crossed over the top enjoying the torrent of water running under me.  I stopped and looked at it. Wow! What a flood!  I had a few more caches to find before I needed to head back to Brenham for the Texas Geocaching Association’s yearly competition in the next few days, so I started down and that’s when it got ugly.

Who knew tree pollen is slippery? Gravity accelerates you at 9.8 meters per second per second. After one second, you're falling 9.8 m/s. After two seconds, you're falling 19.6 m/s, and so on.  I am less than 2 meters tall…

I remember everything going into slow motion and seeing both feet as high up in the air as my face. I hit flat on my back so hard it all but knocked the wind from me. Now mind you, I am pretty much classified as an expert in taking a fall, being a black belt and studying jui-jitsu, hapkido and chayonryu – but I had no time to break my fall properly.

I landed just like everyone else would – real hard. I do not believe a person can hit the ground any harder than I did unless you fell off a building or cliff. To put it mildly, I was stunned.

I laid there on my back in the rain all by my lonesome for what seemed like a long time, but was probably about 10 seconds. You’ve heard the saying knee jerk reaction, right? Well, that is exactly what I did and I did it so hard, I pulled my left hip flexor to the fainting point. Involuntary reactions to falling a lot of times are worse than the fall and this is how people break their arms – or necks when they fall.

I stood slowly, experiencing excruciating pain in my left front pocket area. I blew air out through my teeth not believing this had just happened to me and slowly descended, wondering if I was hurt worse than I thought. Maybe I could walk it out. I limped toward the geocache and as fate would have it, it was up the bank and behind a bush about a hundred feet away. Very carefully I located it and signed the log book, shaking my head in disbelief at my accident.

5 minutes later I arrived at the base of the bridge I had to cross and grabbing both rails I slowly began the ascent. I had no other choice and I did not hesitate. I was sweating and I knew beyond any doubt that if I fell again, I would have no control over the involuntary reaction. I did know that I could not sustain that pain twice or I would lie there until someone found me. I’m no stranger to getting hurt, either in the dojang or the woods, but this was not even remotely funny.

Getting up in my “lifted” Jeep was the next obstacle and after getting one leg in and pulling myself into the driver’s seat, I literally could not lift my injured leg up without using my hands. I sat there for 5 minutes sweating in the 58 degree weather and breathing heavily before I shut the door.
Actual conditions before I fell.  I stopped and photographed the bridge and running water.
Last night I told my bride my honest appraisal of the situation and I can say it with conviction. That fall back there in that little park in Carmine, Texas would have been the end of a lot of people. Thanks to persistent conditioning and constant attention to physical training, 5 days later, I sat in an indoor cycling class as the instructor and pushed myself and a number of other gym rats for a solid hour of rigorous cycling. Most of all though and I make no apology, I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for helping me get back up, to walk and play another day.


Anonymous said…
Dandy Don Cunningham‎
Bert, your column in The Baytown Sun this morning was awesome, but I hated so badly to read about your terrible fall. I have experienced similar situations, so I could really empathize with you. I am so glad that you weren't hurt any worse than you were, even though I know how painful that must have been. I also give glory to Jesus for helping you and giving you the strength to get up. I also know that a lot of credit goes to the physical condition that you are in. Again, your writing style put me right there with you. When you were slipping, I was right there with you. When you fell, I was there, too. I am so glad that you are OK, brother.
Anonymous said…

I was enjoying your article until I got to the part you could have died! Egads, what an awful scare.

I bet when you die, the geocachers will create a golden cache that will be next to impossible to locate!

Glad the story ends well!

Eleanor Albon
Anonymous said…
Gordon Little: Bert, don't do that...... it hurts!

Just sayin'...
Anonymous said…
Buddy D. Casto: Sooooo happy you are still with us Bro!!!!
Anonymous said…
JF: Bert, glad you are ok. At least it didn't mess up your typing fingers. I did a similar thing one wet night at El Toro not long ago. My problem is old age.

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