So there I was climbing Saddle Mountain, leading a tour of school kids from the School for the Blind and Deaf up the mountain when all of a sudden a bear jumps out of the woods. I've read that when encountering a bear, one does not need to outrun the bear, only those one is with. Man, those little kids were fast!
As the truth goes, the day was clear, the temperature was near perfect and I was running up the mountain. Running! Saddle Mountain is about a 4 mile hike up and back. I was about an 1/8 of a mile from the top, the summit, the peak, the goal, when I encountered a fallen tree across the trail. As I hit my head on the tree, I glanced a branch and sliced open my head. I fell to the ground and blood began pouring out. Not a trickle, not a little blood but a very steady stream. As the warm liquid violently left my body, I thought for a moment this might be it. If I cant get the bleeding to slow or stop, I know what happens. Rescue would be at least 30 minutes away (at the fastest) and that might not be soon enough. I sat there watching my life pour out of my body. Scary! I yelled for my hiking buddy (a lesson here is never hike alone!) who came running to me. We were able to stop the bleeding and with my partners help made it down the mountain and to the emergency room. I received 15 staples and will have a very cool scar for the rest of my life.
How did this happen? Simple. I ran with my head head down and did not see the obstacle. The military has a term called situational awareness or SA for short; basically keeping focus. I lost my SA for just a brief moment and paid the price. I failed to look ahead and was quite surprised when I sat on the ground watching my blood stream out of my head. Have you lost your SA? Have you been going through life with your head down? I'd encourage you to look up. There might be a tree with your name on it, waiting to slice you open, knock you down. And most importantly, you are not alone. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (deepest darkness) I will fear no evil for You (God) are with me." You are never alone.
I'll make a full recovery but I will always have a scar to remind me of that day when I was on the ground watching the very essence of my life leave me. My scar will remind me to keep my head up, look ahead and most importantly...