Expressive 1010 1st Place
Professor: Kurt Harris
It sounded like an avalanche. My vision was blocked by a wall of solid white. The wind was howling like a giant pack of wolves. Trees were snapping like twigs all around. I had never felt the icy grip of fear like this in my entire life. I suddenly was struck by an almost unbearable wave of pain coming from the side of my head. My hand instinctively darted to the origin of the pain and immediately was stained crimson. Then, everything went black.
I had met a few people from Utah--Kendell, Cameron, Alyssa, and Kate--on a school trip to California a few years ago and had instantly bonded with them due to our mutual love of snowboarding. We had become good friends on the trip and since then had been snowboarding together every year. This year’s trip was going to be exciting. It was the first trip we had planned out of the state of Utah. We researched extensively for good snowboarding areas in the western United States and found the perfect place. The mountains in northern New Mexico were not crowded like Brianhead or Park City and had excellent snowfall. It was my last Winter Break of high school and my grandma had recently bought me brand new equipment, which was ready to go at my front door. Kendell was driving down to Vegas and was going to be arriving at my house in a few minutes. We were going to meet Cameron, Alyssa, and Kate in a small town called Chama, which was fairly close to the mountains. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally heard a knock on my door. Kendell greeted me with his usual “What’s up?” and started helping me put my gear into his car. I then bade my family farewell, kissed my girlfriend goodbye and we were on our way.
"So, you know where you're going?" I asked Kendell as we drove down the freeway.
"Oh, you know I do," he replied with one of his many comedic remarks.
"So, is this trip going to be pretty action packed?" I inquired.
"Oh, you know it is."
"Shut up,” I said with a chuckle.
We talked about everything from snowboarding to baseball to college for a few hours, but the drive was pretty boring, and I soon fell asleep. I woke up, and it was dark outside. I glanced at the clock and realized I had been sleeping for four hours. Kendell had a worried expression on his face, and snow was falling violently outside.
"I think we're lost, man," Kendell said as he struggled to see through the torrential snowfall.
"How long have we been lost?" I asked.
"I don't know," he answered. "I thought we were on the right road, but I haven't seen anything for the last few hours. We should have passed a couple of towns by now."
"Well, do you have any idea where we are?" I asked.
"I think I might have turned off on the wrong road. If we're anywhere I think we might be in southern Colorado. Oh yeah, I might have a road atlas, check in my glove compartment right there," he said as he glanced over at me.
Suddenly, Kendell slammed on the brakes and swerved hard. Every muscle in my body contracted as I looked up to see a fallen tree blocking the road. The agonizing sound of metal being crushed roared in my ears as the left end of the car smashed against the toppled pine trunk. It sounded like an avalanche. The car flipped off the side of the road and down a small hill dotted with aspen trees. I could not see anything; my vision was obstructed by a wall of solid white. We first hit two small trees, which snapped; we rolled over, and hit a much larger tree. The latter brought the vehicle to an abrupt halt. The force of the collision with the second tree caused the side of my head to slam against the window, which immediately triggered an excruciating bolt of pain to seemingly stab through my entire skull. My hand instantaneously shot to the point of contact on my head. I looked at my hand, which was covered in my own blood, and everything went dark.
The freezing cold woke me up. Light snowfall was sprinkling through my cracked open window. There was a faint light outside. The sun would be rising soon. The car had landed sideways with my side in the air. My head was pounding with the worst headache I had ever felt in my life. Remembering what happened, I looked over at Kendell, expecting the worst, and let out a gasp of horror. His head was resting on a severely cracked window. He must have slammed his head, also. Blood was splattered all over the window as well as his shirt.
"There's no way this is actually happening," I thought to myself.
I let out a sigh of relief as I saw his chest expand slightly. He was still alive, but unconscious. The cut on his head must have only been superficial. I remember my brother getting a similar injury, and they look a lot worse than they really are. I sat still for a few more minutes, contemplating what I should do next. I decided I probably should get out of the car first. I cranked the handle on the door to open the window. Next, I pressed my legs against the dashboard so I could stay in place when I unbuckled my seatbelt. I pressed the button on the buckle, and the belt released. I then grabbed the edges of the window frame, and my badly bruised shoulder protested in agony as I slowly pulled myself out of the wreckage. I dropped off of the side of the car and sank into about eighteen inches of snow on the ground. I realized how lucky we were to be alive as I looked around at the outcrop of large rocks we had landed right in the middle of. This was going to be a long day.
I walked around the car and saw that the trunk had popped open. Our snowboarding equipment was scattered everywhere. I found my backpack and rummaged through it for a moment and finally found what I was searching for--a small bottle of ibuprofen in case of a snowboard wreck. I silently thanked my mom and girlfriend for packing me a first aid kit. I started gathering all of the bags together in a pile next to the car. After I was done, I removed the first aid kit from my bag and took it with me as I climbed back into the car. I carefully balanced inside the car around Kendell's body. I took the gauze out and carefully wrapped his lifeless head. The dressing was rudimentary, but it would do for now. Afterwards, I climbed back out of the car and collected all of Kendell's snow clothing and most of my own. I threw them into the car and got back in. I then wrapped him in the clothing to the best of my ability and propped his head up with a rolled up t-shirt. I exited the car and began the hike back up the hill.
The hill was fairly steep, and under normal circumstances would be a moderately easy hike, but with the deep snow and bitter cold, the difficulty was increased by tenfold. After about twenty-five minutes, I had made it halfway up the hill. The snow started falling harder, and the wind picked up. Another blizzard was on the way. I did my best to ignore the razor blades of pain cutting every inch of my body and pushed myself up the hill as fast as I could make myself move. I finally got to the top and took a second to catch a much-needed breath. I looked to the left and silently cursed the tree that was the cause of this series of events. I remembered Kendell telling me that we had not passed anything in quite some time from the way we came, and decided to head in the opposite direction. I set off at a jog, as desperate to warm myself up as I was to find any sign of humanity.
I stopped after about a half-hour. Each breath I took fed the fire that was burning in my lungs. I sat down on a boulder on the side of the road, feeling completely desolate. Thoughts of never seeing my friends, family, or girlfriend again poisoned my mind, when I heard something--a barely audible rumble of some sort. I held my breath and focused all my energy on listening to my surroundings, hoping that I did not imagine the sound. All I heard for a few minutes was the gentle tapping of snowflakes on my jacket, when I heard it again. It was coming from up the road, the direction that I was going before. I speedily stood up and started running up the road with renewed vigor. The noise got louder with every step I took. My legs and lungs were begging me to stop, but I pushed on, and eventually saw a blurry shape through the snow. I set off at a sprint. I had never felt fatigue punish my body like this before, but I exerted myself harder than I ever had. I yelled. An undistinguishable yelp of desperation was all that escaped my lips. I heard an answer. I do not know what was said, but it was the best sound that had ever greeted my ears. I stumbled to the side of the snowplow and collapsed. The driver put the vehicle in park and helped me up. It was the happiest I had felt in days.
Kendell was treated for a concussion and some cuts and bruises. He would make a full recovery. We could not thank the snowplow driver enough. I do not know what would happen to us if I did not run into him. The next town was 12 miles down the road from where I was. We had to reschedule the trip for the next year, and when we finally made it to the mountain, it was just as action packed as Kendell said it would be.
Throughout my life, I have always been taught to never give up. In school, sports, and just life in general, I was told that quitters do not make it anywhere. I have tried to apply this philosophy to everything I do. It now not only has saved my pride, but also has saved my life, and possibly the life of one of my best friends. It is not often that you find yourself in a situation where your determination is the only tool you have. Thankfully, it was the only tool I needed.