[This is a story in progress continued from 10Aug2020]
Unable to free her with a push from behind, I clawed at tree roots and dark, loamy earth to create more space for my arm. I got enough leverage to lift her halfway out, but she let out a louder cry than before – this one tinged with pain, so I quickly set her back down. Supporting her with my left hand for fear that she might slip out of reach and into the stream below, I wasn’t so sure I could save her.
After more frantic digging, I got my hand far enough into the hole to discover one of her back legs pinned between two boulders. I maneuvered her leg up and around the pinch point, freeing it and finally lifting her all the way out. Seeing her whole body for the first time, I was amazed at how tiny she was – about 18” long and not more than 3 weeks old by the look of it. Placing her gently on a moss-covered rock I kept one hand on her back as I reigned in my fear of losing her.
Hoping for the best. I took a few deep breaths and lifted her tiny body high enough to see if she could bear some weight. Her legs immediately collapsed underneath like a wet rag. Not knowing what else to do, I quickly wrapped her in my raincoat, carried her up and over the porcupine lair, and made my way back to the office for help.