Midwestern Wanderlog

2016-06-20 – Solstice Day, memorable injury

A gorgeous day for solstice morning.  Moon was full and bright, shining over Red Wing as I was walking the trail up.  Quite the thing, to capture the full moon on Solstice Morning!  It’s strange, though:  I’ve reached the solstice, the day where the sun is at its farthest point north, and yet I’m not halfway done with the project.  You’d think that the midpoint of the year and the summer solstice would coincide, but our calendar is just a bit offset from the movements of sun and earth.  If the year began on winter solstice, then midway would be summer solstice (though that’d only be true if you live in the northern hemisphere.  Southern would be reversed).

Sunrise Stats!
First light: 4:49 AM
Sunrise: 5:26 AM
Daylight: 16 hrs, 47 min

Tried to go to bed early last night, since I had to be at jury duty today (and was anticipating going right from there to work).  Found out, though, that my workplace is so supportive of their employees fulfilling their civic duty that they consider any time spent on a jury or awaiting selection to be equivalent to work hours.  So if I’m at jury selection for three hours, then I only have to work a five-hour shift, and still get credited for eight.  Pretty cool, huh?

So that meant the only question was whether or not I could get from the eastern overlook at 5:26 to Minneapolis by 7:30.

Spoiler alert – I did.  But it cost me.

Barn Bluff has a network of criss-crossing trails up, down, and across.  Many of them were probably started by the local deer, and then deepened into bare-earth paths by people following in their steps.  Most of them are labeled “Not An Approved Trail.”  Heading downward using two of them – or three, depending on how you count them – I can get from the overlook to the pickup in just over fifteen minutes.  But parts are steep, the footing chancy.  Particularly when the ground is damp from overnight rain.

The kicker is that I could see I shouldn’t step my foot down onto the dirt and small rocks of that part of the trail.  That my foot would skid once I put weight on it.  But there was nowhere else for my foot to go, and I was in a hurry.  So I stepped down, my foot skidded, and I fell.  I dropped my tripod, which I remember rattled a few feet down the hillside.  But my attention was completely consumed with pain.

My left hand hit a rock, palm down.  A hollow in the rock was right under the last knuckle of my pinky finger.  I swear to you, I saw the joint pop under the skin as my hand conformed to that rock, bending in a direction the pinky finger is not meant to go.  I sat there for a few seconds; when I could see again, I turned my hand over.

First test of a broken limb or digit – can you move your fingers?

Curling my fingers as though making a fist made the joint jump under the skin again, and I just about choked at how much it hurt.

Still had to get to Minneapolis, though.  So I tucked left hand to my chest, snagged my tripod with my right, and used that to lever myself to my feet.

It’s still swollen and painful.  Not sure how I’m going to work effectively, reduced to using only one hand.  And what if I have to use the rock-climbing trail before it heals?

Still… if this is the only injury I collect throughout this project, I’ll take it.

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