What started out as a typical four-mile trail run quickly turned into a four-hour ordeal that was anything but typical.
Not quite one mile into the run, I heard a thud followed by a shout. One of my running partners had gone down. Hard.
As she stood and brushed herself off, I was shocked to see a deep gash in her knee, small puncture-like wounds on her palms, and nasty scratches on her hip.
She rinsed her knee with water from her bottle and it was clear to us both that this was no ordinary trail tumble. Finding first aid was our first order of business and we made our way — jogging slowly — back to the closest place we could find for soap and water and a bandage.
By the time we got there, blood was streaming down her shin. Though she insisted she was fine — and that the other runner and I should continue on without her — we insisted we'd do no such thing. Sometimes, after an injury, shock keeps the full force of the pain at bay. We wanted to make sure the bleeding would stop and she was safely back to her car before we resumed our run.
An hour later, our run complete, the other runner discovered he'd lost his keys. One small silver key on a small silver loop, missing from the pocket of his shorts, somewhere along the trail.
As we returned to the park to begin what would be a fruitless search, we encountered a park employee and asked if he had any experience getting into a locked car with a coat hanger.
"Yeah, I can do it," he said. He just needed someone to cover for him while he helped us, so he made a call and began talking to someone. The longer he talked, the less hopeful I knew our situation had become.
"Can't do it," he informed us, hanging up the phone, "because the park would be liable."
I didn't matter that my friend's car was located outside of the park or that we were appealing to this man as a fellow citizen rather than a park employee. This was someone who could help us but who now refused based on the park's liability.