Over the 2008 Christmas holidays my family took a vacation to the resort town of Brian Head, Utah. It’s a relatively quiet, picturesque little town, located at the top of a mountain. During the winter season it’s nearly impossible to tell that it’s an actual town, that people live and work there, because you can only get to the houses by over-snow vehicles. To the naked eye it’s just a two-lane main street lined with resorts and pizza shops and recreational rentals.
We rented a few snow mobiles and headed off into the wooded trails. The trails, although groomed and fresh, were a little bit rough for riding but not too bad and certainly not enough to cause us to turn around. As we headed deeper into the wilderness the slope leveled out, the tree line grew closer and all signs of civilization disappeared. We’d only been riding for about 15 minutes, but that short amount of time had taken us far away from the main street and the people enjoying the fun of snow sports. The trail opened up into a wide expanse of flat land that stretched for miles when suddenly, and without warning, I felt a pop and my lower back exploded in fiery pain. As the snowmobile came to a stop I slumped to the side and rolled off, landing in the fresh snow. The pain intensified with the slightest movement so trying to backtrack out of there and get down to the town was not an option.
With no homes in sight, and no cell service we were essentially stuck in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight. After what seemed like hours, but was really only a few minutes, we heard approaching motors. Soon four sleds came into the clearing and stopped to offer some assistance. Of all the people, in all the world, the one who found us happened to be a medic in training who was in the area with his family. To make it even more miraculous, his father was the Clark County EMT Supervisor and was just a few minutes away. His father arrived and assessed the situation. After a quick field examination they were able to get me down the mountain and back to town.
Aside from the routine medical care offered by the resorts, the town had no real emergency services, so it was a two hour drive to the nearest ER. Several hours later it was determined that I had two fractured vertebrae. This was a family trip that went from one extreme to the next in a matter of seconds. Carefree, I was enjoying the sun and snow, and the next thing I know I’m lying in that snow experiencing the most excruciating pain I could imagine.
At the time it seemed like the worst vacation ever, but I’ve since come to realize that I learned a couple of valuable lessons from it. The first is that it’s impossible to know when your health can be jeopardized, so never take it for granted. But the second, and I believe more important, lesson is that you cannot judge places or people by appearances. Injured and isolated it was easy to believe that finding help was impossible. And who would ever guess that a teenage boy would be the trained expert that you need. It’s easy to look at something and see only what’s on the surface, but to really understand, you have to look beyond the surface to see the true miracles that are all around us.
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