In what looks like a one in 1,000,000 likelihood, Dave Bartynski just lately skilled an sudden hazard when a shoebox-size rock fell placing his hand whereas he was mountain biking on the Whitefish Path.
The journey-seeking customer from Pennsylvania got here to the Flathead Valley together with his girlfriend, Victoria Geppert, to fulfill up with a pal. As first-time guests to the world, the pair had a listing of issues they wished to expertise throughout their journey together with mountain biking.
On Sunday, Aug. 9 they ended up on the Skyles Connection trailhead, one of many many locations alongside the Whitefish Path system. Based on Bartynski, they have been having a beautiful journey as much as the Skyles Lake Overlook the place the Skyles Connection and Lion Mountain trails meet.
“It was fairly,” Bartynski recalled. “We have been proper on the tippy high, we noticed the lake and it was lovely.”
The lookout grew to become extra crowded with hikers developing Lion Mountain, so Bartynski and Geppert determined to return out the way in which they got here. As they rode their bikes down the mountain they have been selecting up velocity rapidly.
Out of the blue Bartynski noticed a rock fall in entrance of him and earlier than he may even comprehend that, one other rock even bigger in dimension got here tumbling down a sheer cliff lining the path — this time colliding with Bartynski.
“I used to be flying, yeah I used to be transferring,” Bartynski mentioned. “It’s not like I used to be standing nonetheless, so the percentages of this boulder hitting me whereas I’m transferring have been simply so slim.”
The rock, as described by Bartynski, was considerably rectangular in form and practically as giant as a shoebox. Because it fell, the rock smashed into his hand earlier than ending its journey to the center of the path.
Bartynski went to brake and believed the rock additionally broke his brake lever, however as he appeared down the bike was intact — he merely couldn’t really feel his hand squeezing the lever and shortly after excessive ache set in.
“I used to be shocked it solely crushed my one knuckle, it appeared prefer it may have taken my entire wrist aside,” he mentioned.
Bartynski tried to slowly journey his bike out utilizing his toes on the bottom to push and information him, however as quickly as he set his injured hand on the deal with bars the ache would develop into insufferable. He was compelled to stroll his bike out over a mile.
He left his biking glove on to assist with the swelling. Bartynski had damaged his different hand previously, and felt constructive that he wanted medical consideration.
An emergency physician at North Valley Hospital reduce off the biking glove, which revealed a deep wound extending to the bone. After treating Bartynski’s hand and reviewing X-rays, the physician decided Bartynski fractured the bone in his hand main into his index finger’s knuckle joint.
Though the physician urged surgical procedure, the customer from Philadelphia determined to attend and get reassessed when he returned residence. He ended up not having surgical procedure, however was in a forged for every week and now could be presently in a splint.
Bartynski by no means thought this might occur to him, however in response to some Whitefish locals he met on the path that day, rockfall can develop into extra prevalent in exceedly dry circumstances. There was little rain all through August within the valley.
Bartynski was sporting a full-face safety helmet and lightweight mountain biking gloves, although he plans to buy padded, downhill gloves for the longer term.
Path hazards can exist — rockfall, wildlife, path irregularity, potential collision with pedestrians, negligence of individuals throwing rocks and lots of extra — however Bartynski mentioned potential dangers received’t preserve him out of the mountains.
“To me it was a freak accident,” Bartynski mentioned. “I plan on hitting that path once more, I could say a little bit prayer earlier than I hit it, however I really feel like I must… It’s very straightforward and it was a pleasant little cruise, that’s why I’m not too afraid of it, however I would really like some closure.”