Trail Fail… Responding to Wild Sensibility’s Challenge…

If you spend time in the outdoors, eventually something will go wrong. It’s a law of nature. But if you survive, those epic failures become the best stories! We’ve all read about amazing accomplishments in the wild, but now it’s time to tell us about the not-so-great times and what you learned from them. Share your best #EpicTrailFail stories on your own page, include this paragraph as a header, and then provide a link in the comments here or here. We’ll curate and circulate the best stories in future posts. We can’t wait to read about what you’ve survived!
Arionis of Just A Small Cog and Rebecca of Wild Sensibility.


Back in my thirties, forties, and into my fifties, when my right hip went south (without me) I ran miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles on narrow rocky trails in the California chaparral and in the mountains east of San Diego. I ran up and down hills like a bitch. Everyone said, “You should be careful! You’re going to hurt yourself!” but I never did. Never. Not once.


The trail and I were as one. I felt those trails beneath my feet with the same knowledge with which we know the lines on our own hands. No one could keep up with me let alone catch me.

I bet you can’t even SEE the trail…

Why once — when I hit the trails to run off a disappointment — I ran up the steepest ‘face’ of one of the ‘mountains’, down the other side and up the next mountain. I didn’t know there was a guy running behind me, trying to catch up. When I finally stopped, and the guy caught up, he said, “Damn, woman, you’re fast. I’m fast, but I couldn’t catch up. Do you do this all the time?”

I gave the guy a hard look and thought, “That’s one fit dude,” and answered, “Pretty much every day.”

But pride goeth or love hurts or something and I fell in love. No, not with the guy who chased me. The guy’s name was Mike, and he was (IMO) beautiful and very smart. It turned out to be a pretty good short-term relationship, too, and it ended in friendship that was even nicer than the relationship. But this was the beginning when people are incoherent, babbling fountains of unasked questions, reading each other’s faces and looks and gestures. He was also 15 years younger, and that was one reason for all the incoherent babbling and face reading. It was a little scary. We hung out a lot as friends and had a blast. But as happens, the friendship grew and hit the infamous When Harry Met Sally moment. Neither of us was sure about it. Meanwhile, we kept hanging out, eating dinner, going to movies, talking, hiking, and riding mountain bikes and stuff.

Then, one quiet Sunday afternoon we went to Balboa Park. Balboa Park is near the top of any San Diego sightseer’s list. It is the location of the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Museum of Art. Many of its beautiful buildings were built for the American Exposition of 1915. It sits at the top of a mesa not far from the harbor and downtown. It is completely and totally flat. As flat as the valley in which I live now.

Mike and I wandered around, talking and (gasp) holding hands. As we talked I realized this was that miraculous, rare thing called “requited love.” Inside I felt like a million Lawrence Welk bubbles were dancing in my heart. I was so happy that I turned to physical anarchy to release my emotions. There was a small square of grass, small wooden stakes pounded into the earth on each corner, encircled by a flimsy white string about 18 inches above the ground. I did a perfect scissors jump over it and then another over the other side. And then I screamed like all the tortures of hell had suddenly found my left knee to be inexorably damned. I’d landed with my knee hyper-extended not knowing, when I jumped, how much lower the ground was on THIS side of the string than the the side I’d jumped from.

Star marks the spot

Mike helped me up, got me to my Ford Ranger and I drove home. “Walk it off, Kennedy,” echoing in my mind, but when I stepped out of my truck, I collapsed. My knee wasn’t going to hold me. I managed to stand up and limp to my house, let myself in and get past the dogs to the phone.

“Mike, I need to go to the ER.”

Sometime later — a year or so — Mike and I were no longer an “item.” He was in college taking a keyboarding class. One day, in the mail, I got his homework…

24 thoughts on “Trail Fail… Responding to Wild Sensibility’s Challenge…

  1. OMG that was (sorry to say) delightfully funny. Not the getting hurt bit, but the rest was a true testimony of “moments of the heart” and humour and touchy feely stuff which always gets me. It was a wonderful experience (even with the ouch) in it.

    • It’s a funny story. I left out the parts about not having health insurance and therefore not given surgery. 😦 Six weeks in a brace, another six weeks not allowed to hike, but I ended up getting a real mountain bike and that was fun.

  2. I’m sorry I’m laughing, but damn, that’s a funny ending! The knee, not so funny. Isn’t it strange how our worst injuries often come from the most innocent of movements rather that our usual running? What I’m most sorry about is that you can’t currently enjoy the trails like you used to. Hope your foot improves and you’re back out there soon!

    • The story is funny and I learned a lot from the experience, not just about reading signs, but about asking for help.

      The foot is a lot better, thank you! But so much of my happiness depends on it that I am willing to wait. I just want to Langlauf, but I learned from that knee accident not to rush healing. If I can get out on the ski trails by January, I’ll be OK with it.

  3. That was a great, if unexpected, #epictrailfail story! I couldn’t help but laugh at the homework. Thanks for participating in our series.

    • My pleasure. It was a fun story to tell. The knee injury was serious and painful with residual problems, but the experience as a whole was a really good one in its way. Definitely funny, too. I sure learned not to take manicured patches of benign green grass at face value… They’re sinister.

  4. I just couldn’t press “like.” We do wear out. Some wear out spines and other knees and hips. Teeth too. I’m waiting for the antidote too. Any day now!

  5. What a great story! With a funny homework ending 😄♥️

    I never ran the mountain trails. Mountain lions, rattle snake and tarantulas. You were fast and brave.

    I love Balboa Park. I used to have a zoo membership and I went to the park at least once a week to visit the gorillas and orangutans. Always hit free museum day once a month.

    • I love Balboa Park, too. When I lived on 5th and Kalmia I had a zoo membership and often went early on a Saturday morning to watch the bats go to sleep. ❤ I loved to take a drawing pad to the zoo and enjoy the kids gathering around to watch me draw. I often gave the drawings away.

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