Ryan and I just got back from a trip to Oregon. We went to Portland on business while my parents watched our kids.
Last Thursday I got Tate from preschool and we headed straight for "Grandma's House" in Preston. I dropped off the kids and their things and dashed back to Pocatello. I finished packing for Ryan and I and as soon as Ryan got home from work we were off!
We stayed Thursday night in Kuna, ID with Ryan's younger brother and their family. We continued down the road in the morning.
As we got into Multnoma County we were ahead of schedule and decided the take the old scenic highway that winds along the mountain side. We stopped there at one of the many falls; Horse Tail falls. We took some pictures, and then seeing that the trail to the top of the falls was only half a mile, we decided to take a little hike.
We headed up the narrow trail which wound it's way up the mountain in steep switch back fashion. There was a sign indicating that we had reached the half way mark, only a quarter of a mile left to go.
A couple of rocks started falling, we thought perhaps someone up higher had kicked some down, and we continued on. A few other rocks fell and then we met a family coming down the trail. There were two girls and a boy strewn out down the path, trailed by two adults. We warned them that some rocks had been falling and to watch out. They gathered closer together and started down the trial again.
We went up over a rise and had gone about 30 yards when we heard a crunch as part of the mountain broke away. We heard the crunching of rocks and trees as melon size boulders, with sharp, jagged edges, tumbled down the mountainside. When the thundering of rocks stopped we heard the screams of the family.
Ryan and I both turned around and ran back down the trail to find them intermingled with the rocks. One of the little girls was hurt badly Ryan picked her up and rushed down the trail with her. The parents had done their best to shield the children and had sustained the most injuries as a result. Both of them had several head injuries and other contusions.
I quickly picked through the rocks gathering up jackets, keys, camera and cell phone and then followed behind the parents. I still marvel at the fact that they walked down under their own power.
It was obvious the the terrain was unstable, as we continued down the trail rocks fell randomly, urging us to continue down to safety. Luckily 2 volunteer firefighters had started up the trail, Ryan handed the injured girl off to one of them and ran back up to see if he could help more. He took the couple's cell phone and called 911. They dispatched emergency services.
As we got everyone down to the parking lot we set up an emergency area. Several people ran to their cars gathering up first aid supplies, blankets, towels, water, anything that might help. The volunteer firefighter administered first aid, others helped hold bandages, and limbs steady as we waited.
The two other children were relatively unhurt, they had a few scrapes and bruises. The 10 year old girl, who was a friend of the family, had a bruised wrist and ankle, and a rock had grazed the 7 year old boy's head. They were both pretty shook up. So I busied myself trying to calm them and reassure them. I got some fruit snacks and bottled water from our car to give them. I felt relatively helpless in the whole situation, but felt that, that was something I could do.
It took a half an hour for the ambulances to arrive. After which we learned the extent of the injuries. The 10 year old that Ryan had carried down the mountain had a broken leg, a broken wrist, broken ribs and suspected kidney damage.
The mother and father had both suffered head trauma, broken ribs, along with neck and spine damage. The mother also had a broken arm. We hung around until all the ambulances had gone. All in all our little detour took us well over two hours. But we were glad that we were there to help that family.
Who knows what might have happened had the children remain in the lead alone, and received the full blow of the rock slide. We consider it a blessing that we were there and able to help.
As we continued down the old high way my toes curled as we traveled so closely to the mountain's edge. My stomach gave an odd lurch every time we saw signs cautioning us, and warning of the danger of falling rocks. Our return to I-84 came none too soon!
Naomi Gwenaelle Grant
2 months ago