Moonstruck

Near-Tragedy at Craters of the Moon

By Mike Medberry

In April 2000, conservationist Mike Medberry and several friends were hiking at Craters of the Moon, gathering information for then-President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, who hoped to expand the approximately 54,000-acre national monument to 750,000 acres. While walking, Mike suffered a stroke that impaired his speech, among other after-effects. His mother moved from California to Boise to help with his recovery. The following excerpt from his book, On the Dark Side of the Moon (Caxton Press, Caldwell, 2012), reprinted with permission, describes Mike’s return visit to Craters a few months after the stroke.

One day in early summer, when she thought I was able and interested, Mom suggested that we take a roadtrip in Idaho. “Where should we go?” she asked.

“Ow bout Craters? I would like that.” I felt like Humpty Dumpty. I had taken a great fall and had to put together the pieces of this broken egg: confidence, communication, love, sanity, work, and memories. And all of it related to Craters of the Moon, where I had fallen and lain out on the lava for many hours. This was a harrowing memory, made more poignant by the time-sensitive ischemic stroke that had permanently damaged my brain. I say that my stroke was time-sensitive because doctors give stroke victims three hours to get the person to a hospital to treat him with a clot-busting medicine, before lack of oxygen kills the afflicted cells. It must have taken me eight hours to get to the hospital in Pocatello. We never spoke of this, but it reminded me just how precious time can be. I wanted to confront this fear and show my mother the beauty of Craters of the Moon, which I had worked to protect over the years.

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