Knox Johnstone's Learning Story


Once I had brought an Outward Bound group to the summit of Mt. Kathadin in Maine, and we were starting to head down the mountain along a relatively flat, long and very exposed bare rock surface that we had to cross before we got back down to the tree line. I was concerned that in the summer afternoons on that mountain there was often thunderstorm activity, so I encouraged them to double time it along the exposed ridge to the tree line.
All took off smartly, except Mary, who said her ankle was very sore and was holding her back. She had been whining before about it, and seemed unable to push herself to do more than wobble forward. I said, ‘Look! It’s not safe up here, and you really DO have to move faster!’ She said she was trying her best, but could not go any faster, even though the rest of the students in her group were already almost off the exposed ridge.
Just then, while we were standing together a long way behind the others, as I was once again encouraging her to try harder, a monstrous blue-yellow lightning bolt struck CRRAAACCKKK!! ZZZZZZZZTTTT!! within 50 feet of us, leaving the air all around buzzing violently with electricity and shockwaves. When I looked up she was 25 yards ahead of me, moving like a scalded rabbit on very good ankles! It was all I could do to keep up with her, and we were both in the trees in less than two minutes.