My brother and I are in Arizona for our annual visit with our parents, and I am looking forward to sharing our stories and hiking pictures and such. But far more important is our “thank you” to a group of Tucson teenagers who confirmed – perhaps even restored – my faith in our next generation.
First a little background . . .
We like to start our visit with a “warmup hike” – the one Dad chose this year was an eight-mile round trip from the Sabino Canyon parking area out to Seven Falls. It’s a fairly easy trail that crosses back and forth across a stream several times along the way.
And it has some spectacular scenery – we shared it with a lot more hikers than we would usually expect to encounter on a Friday morning. We soon realized that all of the public schools in Tucson had shut down for two days in February for the 91st Tucson Rodeo – La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (The Celebration of the Cowboy). And not all of the students headed out to the rodeo – and we played a game of “leap frog” with a group of them from Sahuaro High School as one group would stop for a rest break and the other passed by.
Seven Falls is more than just a spectacular view of a number of waterfalls – it has a large area at the base that is popular for picnicking and sunbathing.
With my love of all things that involve running water, it was only a few minutes before I was wandering around to find a good vantage point. But the footing was treacherous – thousands of years of running water during the flooding caused by the winter runoff has made those rocks really slippery.
Meanwhile, Dad took a sunblock break – I think this is one of the best pictures we have ever had of him. But take a close look at the young lady in the background – she and a group of her friends are the focus of this thank you note.
I wandered down to the edge of the canyon to get one of those “What I Saw . . . What He Saw” shots . . .
And then Blake took one of me – but every time I tried to sit down I couldn’t stop myself from slipping. We didn’t realize until I cropped the picture at left this afternoon that while Blake was taking that picture, the group of teenagers behind my left shoulder were being Angels of Mercy to our dad. We had no idea what had happened until I stood up and a family called to us – they said we needed to come quickly because our dad had slipped and fallen – and used phrases like “It looks pretty bad” and “He’s bleeding a lot.”
But we couldn’t find him – the family kept pointing but all we could see in that direction was a circle of those teenagers who had been playing “leap frog” with us earlier in the day. And then we realized that Dad was in the center of that circle. When we reached him, his face was covered in blood and the gash that covered the back of his head was shaped like a slingshot. And yet there was nothing for us to do – the kids had it all under control. They saw him fall and leaped to his aid – cleaned his wound and brought out an assortment of bandages and gauze. The only thing we did was help the girl who was obviously in charge tape enough bandages to Dad’s head so that we could get his hat on to hold them in place and start hiking four miles back to the car. She told us that she was a lifeguard and she obviously knew first aid.
I took these two pictures just as we were getting ready to head out from Seven Falls. I am convinced that this group of young people would have walked with us every step of the way – they offered us water, more bandages, snacks, and everything else they could think of. And more than once they begged us to take Dad to the emergency room when we got back.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Dad has fallen – you may recall that a few years ago he hiked nearly 19 miles in the Grand Canyon after breaking his leg – and he assured everyone that he would be fine. Still, they checked on us several times on the way back and didn’t go on ahead of us for the last time until I assured them that Dad was telling stories as we hiked and we were sure that we would make it to the car.
Don’t worry – I won’t share any graphic pictures. When we got back to Mom and Dad’s place, Blake helped clean Dad’s wound and change the dressing. He and I both agreed that stitches were necessary – but Dad wasn’t on board with the plan until Blake gave him a hand mirror and told him to look for himself. Shortly after, Dad and I left for Urgent Care.
The doctor’s diagnosis was “a nasty scalp laceration – but not unrepairable” – and a couple of hours and 20 staples later we were on our way. But not before Dad drew quite a parade of nurses and receptionists who heard about his wound and wanted to see it for themselves.
Don’t think for a second that this slowed Dad down a bit – about half an hour after we left Urgent Care, the four of us were sitting in the audience at the Gaslight Theater, where we celebrated Blake’s birthday. And the next day, we hiked for nearly nine hours on Mount Lemmon nearly 6,000 feet above Tucson.
I don’t know their names – but I plan to send an e-mail with a link to this post to the principal of Sahuaro High School. Hopefully, the principal will be able to identify our care team and let them know that we followed their advice – and let them know once again how much we appreciate how they spent their school holiday.