“How I almost died in the desert and was saved by chance”
“I remember the sound my body made when it hit the ground. A sharp crack. Then the white heat of pain stabbing my body, escaping through my mouth in an almighty howl. I tried to stand up – the instinctive reaction to the fall – but couldn’t get up. Everything under the arms has remained a dead weight.
So begins Claire Nelson’s memoir, “Things I Learned from Falling” (HarperOne), released May 25, a heart-wrenching page from a book recounting a 2018 hike she took in Joshua Tree National Park in California. , with almost disastrous consequences.
Nelson was a New Zealand journalist in her thirties seeking an escape from her busy life in London when she traveled to California to spend two weeks guarding the house with a friend, eager to relax and to recharge your batteries in nature.
Nelson had always been a hiker, so when she set out on the Lost Palms oasis trail which was marked only “moderately difficult”, she felt confident, armed with a walking stick. hike and a bottle of water.
Within hours of starting the hike, Nelson lost his footing, slipped off the trail, and broke his pelvis in a fall. She stood there, dehydrated and in pain, for days, short of hope and time, even resorting to drinking her own urine. Alone in a hot desert, she began to lack hope. (When she was finally rescued, the search team feared they would not find her alive.)
While Nelson forgot to tell someone else his route, his silence on social media prompted friends to call search and rescue teams. His abandoned car was discovered at the trailhead. But given the size of the park, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Before her fall, she had strayed from the path, which made her even more difficult. After four days and three nights, she was found by a helicopter which had already passed two other times without seeing her. Because she had created a small parasol with her hiking pole and was waving it, that little flash of movement made the helicopter come back.
“I was a mess, but I was a lucky mess,” she writes of her rescue. “I had a second chance now and. . . this new and brilliant second life would not be like the one before.