A snowy winterscape, Scott Barlow plans on cross country skiing and guiding this winter to help his body to continue healing. PHOTO COURTESY SCOTT BARLOW

Not So Average Joe: The luck to survive and the will to thrive

Scott Barlow’s journey of healing

Two years ago in July, Scott Barlow was hit by a drunk driver in Four Corners. The accident totalled his jeep, broke eight bones, including his C-5 in his neck and punctured his lung. 

Most of the breaks were near major arteries, so the doctors could not do much with those. He was in a neck brace for 4 months and feels fortunate to be able to walk. 

“He was blackout drunk when he hit me at 12:30 in the afternoon,” he said. “Alcohol is a big thing where we live and there are a lot of people that drink and drive. It’s inevitable that somebody is going to get hit or something is going to happen.” 

The young man who hit him expressed remorse and concern. 

“I just told him he needs to get help. I don’t believe in holding grudges or hating,” Barlow said.  “I’m not mad or upset; I’m letting my body heal.” 

He was lucky – people arrived quickly at the accident. 

“I’m grateful for everybody. The police officer called me two and a half weeks after I had been released just to see if I was okay,” he said. “Somebody opened up a Gofundme account to help me with my medical bills. People kept bringing me food. I couldn’t move to cook but I didn’t want to say anything.” 

His boss also went to the grocery store for him. 

“I feel fortunate to have good people around,” he said. 

He’s now back to his work as a guide for Yellowstone Tour Guides and he appreciates that his work as such variety and keeps him moving: from taking people on hikes, to showing them the sites. 

“Seeing geysers erupt that haven’t for a long time, watching new features form and watching the interaction of animals in there or finding a rare plant,” he said. “There are plants that are specific to the geothermal areas that are unique to the heat that is in there – like there is a Yellow Monkey Flower that grows near the hot springs and can even bloom in winter.” 

Before being consistently settled in Big Sky around five years ago, he lived a nomadic life, chasing his passion all across the continent. 

“I started in Mexico and made my way to Alaska studying plants and doing odd jobs on the side,” he said. “I think that it’s unique that there are certain plant substances that can benefit humans that’s what intrigued me, how humans use plants to heal themselves.” 

He then started studying with independent herbalists and received training from Herbal Healer Academy. 

After the accident, he used an arnica salve to expedite the healing and “to help with bruising and nerve damage.” 

He is now a certified herbalist and has been studying plants for 30 years. 

“This is my passion,” he said. Yet, in the early morning, with frost and fog prevalent, he can be spotted warming up his vehicle and excitedly loading up his camera to go and find a rumored new thermal feature in the park. 

His breathing is still not quite right. He suspects scar tissue from the lung that deflated, but he is determinedly on a path of self-healing. 

“This winter I plan on cross country skiing and guiding a little bit to get my body back in shape,” he said.

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