Down and nearly out on one knee

by Tony Bishop on December 19, 2010

About this time each year, most New Zealanders are looking forward to a week or three Summer holiday starting at Christmas and sweeping into the New Year.

And about this time every year I write a piece or two about safety – too many New Zealanders die in our great outdoors or on the sea.

Should follow my own advice!

Last weekend I was staying at a fishing camp on the Tauranga-Taupo River south of Taupo in the middle of the North Island. I was alone in the camp.

First day, some very hard fishing in a very low and clear river produced a few fish – so I thought I would head well upstream into the gorge area. Some business delayed my start till around mid-day.

It is probably only an hour and a half walk and wade, if you don’t stop to fish – but it took me nearly 5 hours, with numerous stops to fish to many, and very visible, fish. I was the only angler on the river.

So at around 6 pm I turned round to get ‘home’ before dark at around 8.30 pm.

I had gone only about 100m downstream when a boulder I stood on, rolled under my foot, and I dropped onto one knee, then rolled into the just above knee-deep water. As I stood up I knew instantly something was wrong with that knee, the pain literally bought tears to my eyes.

The, should be, 1.5 hour trip turned into a 4 hour, stop and start, marathon, wet and very cold, and each step in great pain.  The last hour in the jet black, no moon night, meant I was constantly tripping, meaning even more pain.

When I got back to camp I realised I was pretty bloody lucky. If the injury had been only a little worse I would not have been able to make the walk-out – and on the Tauranga-Taupo river there is no cell-phone signal.

Worse still no-one would have known where I was going on the river to fish. More worse still, it was unlikely anyone would be coming to the camp for a couple of days, to notice my absence.

All I needed to do was call someone from the camp, and tell them where I was going, and if they did not get a “Hey, I’m back” call by a certain time, to get search and rescue underway.

It is just so easy to forget  the simple little things, like a quick call to tell some-one where you are going and when you expect to be back – a memory lapse that could cost you a night or more  outdoors with a bad injury. At worst a simple lapse that could end up ruining your family and friends’ holiday, by attending your funeral.

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