Do What You Did Before

Experience works in mysterious ways.

As a Boy Scout, I got to do many things and go many places. I hiked the Silver Moccasin Trail to Serpent Mound in Ohio; spent an entire summer at Camp Birch near Yellow Springs in Ohio; went to Philmont Scount Ranch near Cimmaron in New Mexico for a week; checked out the 50th Jamboree in Colorado Springs; spent a week at a Japanese International Camporee and another week at Camp Motosu, one of Mt. Fuji’s famous “5 Lakes”; picked up 33 merit badges on the way from Boy Scout to Explorer Scout and more.

The most memorable event of all, however,  was climbing Fujiyama (Mt. Fuji), which reaches 12,389 feet above sea level.

Switchback trail and final rest stop near top of Fujiyama.

There’s only one way to reach the summit of Fujiyama, but there are two ways to get down. A very narrow switchback trail to the summit is used both by people ascending and descending and the lava slides provide a secondary descent. Whether going up or coming down the switchback it’s dangerous – A misstep or loss of balance on the trail could send one rolling down to the base and winding up dead or in hospital.

The choice one must make on descending is either to spend many hours retracing your steps on the switchback or taking 45 minutes running, I repeat, running down one of the lava slides, which are too loose and too steep to simply walk down and which, believe it or not, is a bit more safe, due to the way you must plant your feet.

Running down a Fujiyama lava slide. The man in front is good to go. The other two are about to go wrong…

You can’t run downhill like you would on level ground where your heels hit first and then your soles. To run down a steep hillside, you must land on and dig in your heels. That way, if you fall you’ll most likely fall backward as opposed to tumbling forward. Lazy as I am, I opted for the lava slides and had a fine time running down the slope in strides of 7 to 10 feet each.

So, what’s so mysterious about that?

Just this.

For our Senior trip on graduating high school, we had an over-nighter at a dude ranch. Among the attractions was trail riding and I decided to do that. As a group of five or six of us were about halfway along the trail, my horse bolted and I found myself atop a steed heading across a recently plowed field at full gallop toward a fence line with no idea which of two choices he would make – He could either stop suddenly before reaching the fence line or he could jump the fence. Either way, there was no doubt that I was gonna be on the ground.

There are ways to stop a horse and one of the most effective is to raise its head by pulling back on the reins so it can’t see the ground very well and I had that horse’s head so far back we were literally nose-to-nose and he just kept running. So, I decided to take control of my destiny and leave the horse to do as it pleased. Using the left stirrup as a pivot to do a 360 to get myself headed forward instead of sideways, I dismounted at full gallop and hit the ground running, just as I had done coming down Fujiama.

Stupid f***** horse stopped at the fence line about fifty yards further on to snack on some Johnson Grass…