by Colin Aina
As I watched Ben make his way down the boulders, I awaited Jason's arrival from above. The steep degree of the slope was such that didn't allow for an easy descent. Ben could only bear weight on his good leg and I watched as he scooted on his butt in a single leg squat. As soon as Jason arrived, we packed our gear and quickly caught up to Nick and Ben. We tried to assist Ben in an upright position with one of us on either side of him, but the steep grade and the constant need to hop and lunge onto the big boulders made that nearly impossible. He was more comfortable scooting and hopping on the good leg with the assistance of a makeshift crutch.
As we progressed down, our mood wasn't all that bad. I felt very relieved that we were getting him down and eventually to an emergency room. We took short breaks in order to rest his overtaxed working leg and drink water. I didn't really pay attention to the time, but I knew that it was taking extremely long to get off the boulder field and onto the trail leading to the bike path. On the way up, it took us an hour to get from our campsite to the base of the climb (it should have taken us 30 minutes tops to get back to the campsite once off the climb) and by the time we got off the boulder field, it was approaching 2 hours. Although trickier, the trail provided a bit of solace for Ben (IMHO), he could grab onto trees in the trail and the grade wasn't as steep. He was however, getting exhausted and the pain meds were wearing off. We took a few breaks and luckily got to the edge of the bike path. We took some time to readjust his splint that was fashioned out of a few sticks, webbing and caribiners.
The well paved and flat nature of the bike path was a welcomed site to us all, but now the real work for Jason, Nick and myself would start. Ben was wiped and there was no way he could continue the "single-leg-squat-scoot". It only made sense to have us assist him on either side. Unfortunately, Ben is much shorter than the 3 of us (sorry Benny!). This meant that we had to hunch down quite a bit to have his arms around our shoulders. We then tried to carry him, thinking it would be easier. We latched arms and created a seat on which he could sit, but it was just as tricky.
"Wait! I've got a skateboard in my truck!" Ben shouted. Our lives just got a whole lot easier, I thought. We decided that Jason and I would run ahead to the truck in the parking lot and grab the board and somehow roll Ben out of there. Jason and I headed out, grabbed the board and were back in about 20 minutes. The mood when we returned was that of giddy anticipation for sure. We plopped Ben on the board and Nick attached the board to his harness in order to keep Ben from speeding out of control and sustaining further injury. We all had ear-to-ear smiles as we watched Ben skoot along and a few occassional close calls when we pushed him up the subtle inclines of the bike path.
We made it back to the parking lot without further injury to Ben's leg 3 hours after starting our descent from the base of the route. It was decided to bring Ben to Spear Memorial Hospital in Plymouth, NH to see what the extent of the damage would be. We said our goodbyes and I made the 3 hour ride back to Pawtucket. I eagerly awaited an update.