Wyoming, 2009, DIY, Public Land
My brother had just moved to where I live in Cody, Wyoming and we were anxiously awaiting a chance to get in the mountains. It was January and cabin fever had set in. We couldn’t take it any longer so we decided to go on a short hike and explore new territory, despite the -10 degree weather.
We spotted a small herd of elk, but continued on. When we reached the top of the ridge, we did some glassing, eventually spotting a few deer and an antler lying in the snow. We had hiked in six miles and wanted to go farther, but it was time to head back.
After a mile, we came to a large rock that blocked our path. It was hard to sidestep because of the extremely steep slope bordering it. My brother advised that we should backtrack and find a way around, but I proceeded. As I took my first step around the rock, I started sliding downhill. I was upright on my feet and sliding until I went over the first cliff; this is the last I remember......
“Are you okay?” My brother Kyle was screaming as I struggled to roll over and regain my senses. I looked up at him - about 300 feet - from the rockslide where I lay in pain.
“What just happened?” I yelled back.
Kyle yelled to me to hang on and that he was coming down. I was confused; why was there so much distance between us when five seconds ago we were standing right next to each other? As I waited for Kyle, I did a quick analysis of my injuries. I knew my left arm was broken and I felt blood running down my face. I felt my body go into shock, and became very cold. I knew I had to warm up quickly, so I started gathering sticks to start a fire.
When Kyle reached me, I asked him what happened. He said he didn’t want to talk about it, and I realized it was about as traumatizing for him as it was for me. I tried to start a fire, but my fail-proof lighter wouldn’t even spark. In hindsight, it was good that the lighter didn’t work; we probably would have frozen to death if we had stayed.
After a long and difficult hike in blowing snow at -20 degrees, we made it back to my truck, despite my injury. About that time, the pain in my body became excruciating. I hadn’t quite felt it earlier because of all the adrenaline.
During the drive, Kyle told me what had happened. I had fallen down a 10-foot cliff after being upright, tried to break my fall with my left arm, continued to tumble a few times, then went off another cliff, and concluded by sliding face down through a shale slide for the last 100 feet. In the end, it totaled about 300 feet, most of it while unconscious. All I saw after falling off the first small cliff was the mental image of my wife and newborn daughter.
For a full account of Isaac's adventure, go to page 32 in the July/August 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.