And I never lost the feeling that the Gods here were unfriendly, that they liked nothing better than teasing weak mortals, testing them without reason or rest.
Having been away from the beach for nearly an hour, I felt as though I had gone the opposite way, had walked into the sea holding my breath in pursuit of an amphora, found one, and then realized I did not have enough air left for a return walk to the shore. I became panicky to get back to the open beach, to watch the calming waves and inhale the cool breeze. There was not much breeze in the back of the rocky gorge. It suddenly became an armpit smelling of hot rocks and herbs, with a whiff of decay rising from the stream below.
The hiking was no less a challenge on the reverse route. All suppleness was gone from my body. Any small jump, any waving of my left arm to catch my balance resulted in a rolling jolt of nerve pain in that arm, much like, I imagined, a partial electrocution.
I was leaving the narrow stream bed for the broader grassland when it happened. Something grabbed my ankle. Whether it was a trick of the slippery grass, a vine of some sort, snake, or Greek demigod-- I will never know, but I hopped, then tripped, then fell forward. And coming right at my face I could see the spike of a small dead shrub, woody (a remnant of a Gorgon's Head?), about the thickness of a pencil, sharp. Having failed to land on a knee, I would have landed flat on my chest and the spike would have gone straight through my head if I hadn't got my hands in front of me. I pulled my head back as I struck the ground, but there followed a whiplash effect-- my head whipped down allowing the spike to just penetrate my right nostril and then whipped back up again.
I was stunned, but apparently not seriously injured. Even so, my nose and throat filled up with blood. My shirt was the only thing I had to stop the flow, and soon it was soaked through. My daughter led me by the elbow toward the beach with an intense fire-exit-emergency-non-haste. After ten minutes I was certain I would not suffer major blood loss. Loss of hubris, yes.
I felt as though I had bloodied my nose on some demigod football field-- just another demigod wannabe having his demigod self-image rubbed face-first into the demigod ten-yard line.