November 30, 2007

Handsome Paramedics, Painkillers, and Overall General Stupidity

“Whatever you do, don’t leave the path!” my brother warned us as we left for a day of hiking Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver.

But what do you do when you see groups of people sun tanning on the rocks, laughing, and cheering each other on as they took turns jumping off the cliffs to the pure mountain water below? Well, you just saunter off that little trail and have a little look.

What could it hurt to have a look? That led to, “What could it hurt to change into our bathing suits?” From there it was as slippery as those water-fall drenched cliffs. “What could it hurt to peer over the edge at the pool 30 feet below?”

The cool water pulled me into its shocking embrace and popped me back up again after I’d jumped the first cliff. Delicious. Let’s do it again. Well, we really didn’t have much choice. The only way out of the canyon now was to finish cliff jumping. There were two more cliffs to go and then a trail leading up and out.

The next cliff was easy. It wasn’t slippery like the first one with a waterfall running over its edge. (Never tell your mom that part.) My sister and sister-in-law took different routes down the jagged rocks. It jutted so far out that we couldn’t jump from the top. We scrambled down the outcropping of rocks until we found a safe place to dive. But I didn’t see the rocks lurking beneath the dark blue water.

That hurt, I thought, when I dove in and struck my knee on a sharp rock below the surface. But the cool mountain water numbed my knee until I swam to the shore. When I rolled over and sat up, I saw something I’d never seen before. My knee bone. I was delighted at its white shine until the blood began to pour out.

People who cliff dive are all of one category: lunatics. So when I’d hurt myself, everybody joined in for the rescue. A stranger ripped off his t-shirt in slow motion to the tune of “Just when I needed you most” and sent it down for me to wrap my knee. Blood soaked it within seconds. I fell when I stood up. So somebody called the Ambulance and reported that a fellow cliff diver broke her leg. People, looking like little dots on the suspension bridge far above, waved at us and ran to the nearest pay phone (this episode was before the Renaissance) to call the Vancouver Fire Department and said they needed Paramedics to scale the cliffs. Some other enthused cliffie called the Vancouver Police Department to block off the suspension bridge. They would need to make room for the nearly "paralyzed" victim to be transported across.

The paramedic that strapped me into a harness and guided me up the cliff had a smile as decadent and tempting as dark chocolate. The throbbing in my knee became the rhythm to “We’ve only just begun...”, especially as he carried me over the suspension bridge swinging high above the canyon. All traffic was blocked from the bridge until I was safely across. Crowds of onlookers drooled in jealousy at a fellow cliff-diver in the arms of Donny Osmond.

Several stitches later and water on the knee erased the memory of the handsome paramedic and caused me to ask for my Bible and an extra painkiller instead.

Because I was such a wise young person, I was quick to share many spiritual lessons with my parents immediately after calling them from the emergency room: First of all I shared with them, with bitter disappointment, that good-looking paramedics never stick around. And they don’t help take away pain. God does. Secondly, listen to your big brother when he tells you to stay on the path. When you leave the path for a little look, it can lead to a little mishap. Thirdly, when you do have a mishap, God is there. “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11,12).

And as the years passed and my wisdom diminished with parenthood, I learned that you never, ever tell your children about the dorky things you did as a teen, lest they follow in your stupidity. Even if there was a gorgeous paramedic!

Pam (with a mysterious scar that her children often ask about...)


  1. You didn't!! And to think I never recognized that glint of insanity in the sparkle of your eye.

    Well told and funny too!

  2. Oh Pam, can I ever relate to this -my episode was on a cliff on Lake Superior - next time we meet I'll have to show you my scars! ;) Marcia

  3. Yikes, and mine are from racing a horse through a field full of badger holes. My granny used to say, "Too old too soon too late too smart." Thankfully we at least aged past our youth!

    Well written, Pam.

  4. Well told, Pam! :) I liked the humour and the opening paragraphs.


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