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28th August
posted by amber

A Love Story

When the bear attacked my husband in Harlequin Valley, we both knew he was in desperate need of medical attention. Even though we’re both doctors and even though we’d brought far more ‘good drugs’ than any common person would have, we didn’t have what he needed – a blood transfusion, strong antibiotics and an operating room.

After I bandaged him up as best I could, I told him, “I’ll climb up on top of that ridge and try the cell phone.” We were two days hike from Cadomin, the nearest town, but we hadn’t had good cell service since we left Hinton.

I left him with the bear bangers.

The ridge was a mountain shoulder, a good 300′ scramble up steep scree but it took me only 45 minutes. All for nothing; the cell phone didn’t work up there.

When I got back, he looked far worse. “I’m not leaving you again, ” I promised.

“You have to, otherwise I’ll die,” he said.

I didn’t want to say that I thought he was going to die anyway, and soon. I didn’t want to watch him die while I was unable to stop it, but I didn’t want to leave him to die alone or, worse, for the bear to return and finish him off.

He argued with me. He reasoned that he hadn’t gone into shock, he was still lucid, proving that the trauma and blood loss weren’t as serious as they seemed, that timely medical assistance could save him.

He swore he would stay alive until I got back.

So I set out, 24 kilometres to travel unless I ran into another backcountry party. I ran that trail, tripping over roots and rocks and getting up with barely a pause, storming through the many creek crossings.

Four hours later, only 12 kilometres down the trail, I arrived at the Whitehorse river and saw smoke from the outfitter’s camp on the other side. Slipping on wet stones and being pushed downstream by the thigh deep water, I eventually made it across.

The men there had a satellite phone and they called 911 for me. An interminable two hours later, the helicopter ambulance arrived and picked me up so I could show them where to go.

I’d been away for six hours. As we flew up that narrow beautiful valley, I wondered what we’d find at the tent and if I’d made the right decision.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story came about from a conversation with fellow hiker, Jan Chant, about whether or not a dying loved one should be left alone in an attempt to get help. The story is about the decision, not about the outcome – however, when I read it at the campfire, everyone wanted an ending.

So – here it is, by popular demand. – As the helicopter descended, I saw my husband waving weakly at us.





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