A Hiking Adventure! by Judy Bunch

A Hiking Adventure! by Judy Bunch

Judy Bunch with daughter Nicole

In June of 1997, Larry had to fly to Chicago for business for a week, so Nicole and I thought it would be fun to go to Sedona and hike.  A friend had told me about a beautiful hiking trail in Sedona, Arizona in Oak Creek Canyon, and the trail went along the creek.  The trail took us in the canyon, and the red rock cliffs were all around us.  It was absolutely breathtaking.  The temperature was in the high 70’s or low 80’s, there was not a cloud in the sky, and the sky was the deepest blue you have ever seen – fabulous!

Walking to the trail, we went through a beautiful field of wild flowers that had such a wonderful aroma.  All in all, it was heaven!  The trail took you back and forth across the creek in quite a few places.  Nicole and I both had walking sticks, which help tremendously in keeping your balance.  Nicole was in her early 20’s at the time.  We came upon this particularly pretty creek crossing, and there were maybe ten people or more there.  I had on a Cincinnati Milacron t-shirt that Larry gave me.  This lady asked me if I was from Cincinnati, and I told her that I was from the Indianapolis area, but my husband worked for Cincinnati Milacron.  We talked awhile and had a nice little chat.  Upon finishing our conversation, I told the lady that it was nice talking to her and I hoped she and her friends had a nice day.  I turned around to cross the creek, and as soon as my feet hit the mossy flat rock in the creek, I was a goner.  You guessed it, I went into the creek.  Nicole said the first thing she saw was my feet up in the air before I fell and landed in the water on my back.  Each time I tried to get up, I kept slipping on the slick rocks and fell back into the water.  I was the epitome of the old commercial, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.”  The lady told me not to go to my left because there was a really deep hole.  Needless to say, I went to the left.  It was not just a deep hole, it was a darn abyss.  I immediately went down in the water up to my neck.  Now, keep this in mind, I had on a loaded backpack with our lunch, Nicole’s camera was tied to my belt, and I had on my hiking boots.  So, now I was trying to tread water with hiking boots, which to say the least were quite heavy.  The lady also yelled at me to grab my baseball hat and my walking stick, as they were floating down the creek.  So, I gathered my belongings that were floating away.  The lady told me to hold out my walking stick and they would drag me to land.  So, here’s this 52 year old, over-weight person with a backpack on and hiking boots being dragged to land by her walking stick.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, needless to say, the dunking happened before we ate lunch.  The sandwiches were a little soggy!

Now, this whole time Nicole is standing there amongst all the people watching, trying not to be connected to me in any way shape or form.  She didn’t even proceed to the creek an inch to help me.  She was completely mortified to think that her mother was in this particular predicament.  Needless to say, Nicole’s camera was ruined in the near drowning.  Once I got back on dry land, I took my boots and socks off. I wrung the water out of my socks and poured the water out of my boots.  As I was sitting on the rocks trying to gather my composure, this dog on a leash tried to cross the creek where I did and immediately slid into the water.  Once the dog’s owner got him out of the creek, to add insult to injury, the dog came straight to me and proceeded to shake the water off him.  His owner was really embarrassed and apologized to me.  I told her to look at me and that I doubted the water off the dog would do any damage.

Well, the lady that dragged me out of the creek had her niece with her.  The niece was maybe in her early twenties.  I absolutely made that niece’s day.  She was laughing so hard she could hardly keep her composure.  She even took a picture of me!!

While Nicole and I were sitting on the rocks, I was watching everyone cross the creek. I was just waiting for someone else to make a spectacle.  Well, I didn’t notice that immediately to the right of where I tried to cross the creek, there was a place that you could easily walk over to the other side of the creek.  In retrospect, it is particularly humiliating to realize that the only two breathing creatures that tried to cross the creek where I did was the dog and me!

I was so proud of myself when we started our hiking adventure.  I really looked like I knew what the heck I was doing.  I had on my Eddie Bauer baseball hat, my Eddie Bauer backpack, and my hiking boots.  If you have on new hiking boots, people know that you are a novice, but my boots were really dirty and dusty.  So, I looked the part!!!  After the incident, we continued on hiking.  You have to get this picture in your mind, I now have on my baseball hat dripping with water, and every bit of clothing I have on is soaked.  As we passed fellow hikers, they seemed to be looking at me strangely to say the least.  It took quite a few hours for the drying out process.

As Nicole and I began the hike again, she looked back at me and said, “I’d best be seeing a new camera at Christmas!”  The nerve of her, I was at death’s door, and she’s concerned about me ruining her camera!

When Nicole and I first arrived in Sedona, I went inside the Tourist Information Center and asked for a “trail guide map”.  Without saying, I put the map in the backpack, and it seems it got a little wet.  On the way out of town, we stopped again, and I asked for another map.  The guy behind the counter said, “Weren’t you in this morning asking for the same map?”  I said that yes I was, and I fell into the creek.  There was also a lady behind the counter, and she said “We’ve heard the water is still very cold.  Is that true?”  I said, “Oh, it’s not too bad after you get use to it; you should try it”, and left the tourist center with all behind the counter laughing at my obvious state of disarray.

Upon waking up the next morning, my first instinct was to scream.  After accessing the situation, I decided not to be a baby.  After all, I’m a hiker!!  So, I just laid there a bit and moaned before rolling out of bed.  To say that every bone and muscle in my body aches is an extreme understatement.

To sum up the experience, Nicole left Larry a voice mail at the hotel and told him, “Happy Father’s Day Dad, and when you have a chance, call home.  You won’t believe what Mom did”!  Even if Nicole and I had planned this day in advance, it could not have been a better Mother/Daughter day.  We had a blast!

Judy graduated from Chrysler High Memorial High School in New Castle, Indiana attended Ball State University for one year.  Instead of going back to Ball State, moved to Denver, Colorado with three friends where she lived for about 4 years.  Judy moved back to New Castle and met her husband Larry at a Christmas party.  They were married for 31 years before he passed away in Phoenix, AZ where they had moved for business.  Judy moved back home to Noblesville a year later.   

Judy and Larry  have two children,  Nicole and Kyle.  Nicole, her husband Craig, and Spencer (12) and Sawyer (11) live in Windham, NH, but will be moving to the Chicago area.  Kyle, his wife Karen, Preston (12), and identical twins Emerson and Hayden are 9.  They live in Fishers.  One of Judy’s  sorrows is that Larry never got to see any of his grandchildren.  “He would have been a good and fun grandpa.”  Judy loves to read, write, and work on the computer.  Her greatest joys in life are her family and being an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Noblesville.

Thanks for sharing your story Judy!