In July of 1992, I found myself standing at the edge of a stream. The stream that I was standing by, led down the mountain I was standing on, and over a waterfall.
I wanted to sit at the bottom of the waterfall, relax and soak in a bit of scenery. Getting to the bottom of the waterfall looked like it would be no problem. All I would have to do, is jump a mere five feet across the stream and climb down through some bushes, and voila there I'd be.
I looked to the other side of the stream and picked the exact point that I wanted to jump to. I bent my legs... and my legs exploded with the precise amount of effort it would take to land exactly where I had chosen. Except this time was different from any of the other times I'd made such a jump. Because... when I landed, I slipped and fell.
In quicker than an instant I found myself sliding on my back down the stream and headed toward the waterfall. I tried to stop, but it was nearly impossible, there were no handholds at all and the rock was incredibly slippery.
I pushed on this side of the stream bed, and I pushed on that side of the stream bed and I pushed on this side of the stream bed and I still couldn't stop.
I shouted as I fell. "Shane! Shane!" My friend Shane who was exploring with me, saw me fall into the stream. "Mikeyyy! Mikeyyy!" Shane shouted as he ran over to the edge of the stream. He squatted down, stuck his arm out ready to save me. "Right here Mikey.... right here."
The next instant, Shane and I were hand to hand, and we were eye to eye, but right at that moment we both realized, that if I grabbed Shane's hand... I could pull him into the stream with me... and send us both tumbling over the waterfall. Knowing that there was little chance to stop myself... I pulled my hand away... and kept going.
I pushed on this side of the stream bed, and I pushed on that side of the stream bed. Twenty five feet. Push on this side, push on that side. Twenty feet. Fifteen feet. Keep pushing. Ten feet. Push on this side, push on that side.
The waterfall I was about to go over, was about 35 feet high, there were dangerous rocks jutting out, and it spilled into a pool that was about eighteen inches deep , and about two feet across. I knew that if I fell over the waterfall, there was a good chance that I may never walk again...or do much of anything ever again.
Ten feet, nine feet, eight feet, seven feet... keep pushing, six, five, four, three, feet...
Three feet before tumbling over the waterfall, I swung my left arm over my head and two fingers on my left hand caught a half inch ledge and I stopped three feet.
Whew... I could feel my heart going thump, thump, thump! Slowly I stood up. I looked at Shane. "You're not safe yet! Yeah... I know." I looked around, and the only way out of my mess was to claw my way up a steep moss covered slope. Should I slip and fall, I would land right back where I started and have no way to stop myself and I would tumble over the falls.
I clawed my fingers into the moss, kicked steps
with my feet, and I kept going until I was well into the woods...