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Backpacker Magazine – October 2012

Worst Nightmare: Man Down

A hair-raising tale of wilderness terror that will haunt your backcountry dreams

by: Annette McGivney

Water Bottle (iStockphoto)
Water Bottle (iStockphoto)
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The first thing Matt saw was Jake’s water bottle. It was at the bottom of a sheer limestone cliff. As Matt ran toward his brother, he already knew what he was going to see. The impact from falling 200 feet does the same thing to a body as stepping on an IED. It explodes. Shreds. Splatters.

His eyes cloudy with tears, Matt knelt down and put his hand on a sunken chest where both lungs had collapsed. He tried to count respirations, feel a heartbeat. There was a fist-sized gash around the liver that sucked air and pooled with blood. Clear fluid and blood dripped from the nose and ears. Another gash revealed the colon. “Hang on, buddy,” Matt said, almost reflexively. Hollow eyes stared back at him.

A raven passed overhead, casting a shadow. Matt shuddered.

“There you are!”

Matt looked in the direction of the voice and then his gaze drifted up to the top of the South Rim, 2,500 feet above. The craggy peaks of the Hindu Kush disappeared, the red rock of the Grand Canyon came back into focus.

“Thank god for that juniper bush!” said Jake, breathless from the search for his brother and covered with bloody scratches from his short tumble. Matt was kneeling over a boulder, his face wet with tears. “Where did you go, man?” Jake asked, picking up his intact water bottle from the rocks. “I thought I had lost you.”

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READERS COMMENTS

army wife
Oct 29, 2012

I'm not reading any more of these stupid stories, sposed to be working anyway

army wife
Oct 29, 2012

I'm not reading any more of these stupid stories, sposed to be working anyway

Mitch
Oct 29, 2012

I thought I read this story, but I only thought I did.

sr
Oct 28, 2012

Was this two stories spliced together?

Drew
Oct 28, 2012

It was Jake's ghost......

Jean-Claude
Oct 26, 2012

so was that a flashback?
was his brother ok?

What?
Oct 26, 2012

So who had the collapsed lungs and gashes?

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