Claire And The Giant Rockslide
by Nicole Freire
Today I am at home popping Aleve because over the weekend I decided to buy $145 worth of impatiens and whatever else OSH had in their garden department and planted them all in a four hour frenzy of gardening. My garden looks lovely, but oh my BACK.
So, instead of merely lying around and whimpering, which I do extremely well, I present to you a first person account by my daughter Claire. She, along with her classmates, survived the gigantic rockslide in Yosemite last week. That rockslide, and the stories that followed, have given me even more gray hair and a new appreciation for Mother Nature - the one with the daisies in her hair who magically moves rocks, but saves my daughter from being crushed to death by them.
Claire insists that she'll never go to Yosemite again, but I think she could handle it if we all went and stayed at the Ahwahnee Hotel, and had room service every morning. Actually, that sounds as close to camping as I like to get.
And here's the story, in all its 'view from a sixth grader' glory ...
Day 4 in Yosemite, at exactly 6:55 am. I remember the exact time because breakfast is at 7:00 and my cabin mates (Emmie, Racquel and Margot) had to get ready for breakfast. "5 minutes till breakfast guys!" I shouted. We hurriedly got ready and all of a sudden there was a huge rumbling noise. At first my friends thought it was thunder but I knew right away what it was. There had been a smaller rock fall the day before so the rocks were loose. Before we came there was a lot of rain so the rocks got even looser than they were before. So there was this huge rumbling and I said almost in a whisper "rock fall", and immediately we hid behind the opposite wall from where it was coming and covered our heads and necks. We hid there for like 15 seconds but then it got louder. We looked up to the wall where the sound seemed to be coming from and all of a sudden rocks started pelting our window, it shattered. We were all screaming and crying and my friend Racquel was shouting, "we have to get out!!!" we were all shouting "NO NO!!!!!! you can't go outside during a rock fall!!" My other friend Margot was saying " we're gonna live!!! We're gonna live!!!" and me and my best friend Emmie and I were screaming and crying "WE'RE GONNA DIEEEE!!! WE'RE GONNA DIE!!!!!" I could picture a huge boulder crashing through our wall and killing us all. I thought it was the end. Then a rock the size of a ping pong table crashed into our wall and splintered our wall. And then just to make it worse, the power went out (later a guy named Luke told us while he was running he tripped over the main power cord because you can't have tall power lines in Yosemite, it's a fire hazard duh.).
So me and my friends were trapped in our cabin in the middle of a huge rock fall, getting hit with glass and with the power out. We started to bang on the wall next to us because there is an adult in that cabin, but they had already gone to breakfast or they had already escaped. It turned out that we were the only ones left in that cabin area with no adults because they had gone to breakfast. Finally it stopped after about 3 minutes and we jumped up with only with what we had on and struggled to not step on glass and find our shoes in the dark. I stepped on glass but luckily did not get cut. Finally we found our shoes, and we had trouble opening our door because our door opens from the inside out, toward the rocks.
When we finally got outside we ran. We ran faster than I thought we could. One of our teachers, Cydney (we call her Cyd) came running and was telling everyone to go the pavilion. The pavilion is the Curry Village cafeteria. As we were running I thought I was going to throw up. I get adrenaline when I'm scared, so I felt like I was going to throw up because I had never been so scared. And what made it worse was that one of my classmates, Demian, had got injured. He was actually the only one to get hurt during the rock fall. What we had learned is during a rock fall in to hide behind a BFR or Big Friendly Rock. Well Demian had done what he had learned and hid behind a BFR but another rock the size of a ping pong table fell onto the rock he was hiding behind and some of that rock fell off and hit his head. He now has ten staples on his head. So when a chaperone came to get him there was blood dripping down his face and the back of his neck and he was screaming
"HELP! MY HEAD! I'M BLEEDING!! I WANT TO GO HOME!!! AHHH!!" that made me want to throw up even more. When we got to the pavilion everybody was shaking and screaming and sobbing, and some people were just staring at the ground from shock. The teachers were all trying to count everybody and get their attention. No matter how hard they tried, it didn't work. Me and my best friends were holding each others hand and crying. Nobody had brought anything with them; they just had whatever they had on them. Some people came out from the shower room with only a towel around them. One of my other friends said they had seen a man come running out in a man's thong (ew). People were in boxers, t-shirts and underwear but luckily everyone from Montessori had real clothes on. I had sweatpants, my PJ shirt (which says USCB instead of UCSB) my parka and my hiking boots, but no socks.
After a long wait of 3 hours standing around outside in a parking lot we got in a bus and went to a hotel for breakfast. It was delicious, but I'm sure nobody could really enjoy it and besides, we couldn't eat in the hotel because other people eat there. So we had to go to a bar that they had opened for us so we could eat. After we ate, the Yosemite people took us outside so they could tell us stories and tell us what was going on and what was going to happen; unfortunately that didn't work out either. But they didn't manage to tell us what was going to happen. Sadly we had to home a day early. So the buses came in about an hour and we got in them to start our long journey home. They said they would send our stuff back on Monday, which just happens to be today. But we didn't get anything but we will sometime this week. The most tragic this is that I left my 12-year-old stuffed animal monkey, Dodden. So I am eagerly waiting until they send back our stuff.
The rock fall the day before was rated a 4 out of 10.
The one we were in was rated a 7. They told us it's the biggest one they've had in over 100 years and I must tell you that is a very long time.
But I'm glad I'm home safe and sound along with everyone else.
I am NEVER going back to Yosemite again.
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.
photo by Las Vegas Jim