Emylene VanderVelden has heart.
After getting squashed by bulls in a farming accident, she courageously clawed her way back to the mountains. Step by step, Emylene has given us inspiration to face life's hard trials in an effort to find the real healing we all so desire in the natural beauty of a wild place.
This story includes heartfelt prose, some fascinating practical advice, and of course, beautiful photos from the Canadian Rockies. - RJ
In dim light, I stretch my legs; crisp autumn air nips at my skin. I nestle into a down vest and watch the sun crest the mountain horizon. Golden rays shimmer through the cedars and dance on my face.
In seconds, I was reduced to a howling wretch, helpless as a young child.
In February 2015, a traumatic farming accident landed me in the hospital. Three 1,800 lb (816 kg) bulls crushed my entire upper body between two steel cattle panels and left me physically broken and devastated. I'm petite with a willowy frame, yet I have a reputation as an outspoken firebrand. I've been a risk taker, a tenacious hurricane force to be reckoned with. In seconds, I was reduced to a howling wretch, helpless as a young child.
Accidents and illnesses happen: real people are damaged. Standing at the trailhead, I mentally relived my spine and clavicle snapping, rib cage strangling my lungs, throbbing arms and shoulders, and my un-restrainable screams. I felt the faded echoes of injuries, but swallowed their memories, ignored physical discomfort, rearranged my gear, and discarded my years of experience.
It was time to start over.
This is the story of my return to the backcountry. It includes information about my recovery and training, and the story of my re-entry trip in the Canadian Rockies (and of course, my gear list!).
2,193 words / 14 photos