Sunday, June 03, 2012

Please help me welcome special guest wanderer, Charles W

Now join me in wishing special guest wanderer Charles W a speedy recovery.

Before starting out from Cali I'd arranged to meet Charles for 4 days at Rocky Mountain National park. He was going to be in the area visiting family and running a road race.
1st day we hiked from fern lake to bear lake. If we'd done it in the more conventional direction we'd have seen the signs at the bear lake shuttle stop that said winter mountaineering gear is highly reccomennded. No matter, we crossed snow fields with agility and stability.
2nd day we hiked to upsilon lake and took in the sights of the cross-park road
3rd day we hiked to beautiful mills lake.  Though we tried to hike beyond to black lake, a swath of fallen trees as far as could be seen blocked the trail. After testing a few through routes we decided to turn back instead of risking impalement on any of a thousand spikes branches in the swampy horizontal forest.
We proceeded back along mills, mainly walking on low planks that formed the trail over wet marshy land.
Once below mills we crossed the outflow on a park maintained footbridge that is a split log with a hand rail installed on the downstream (right as we were crossing). Charles was about 2/3rds across when he misplaced his right foot and slipped. He crashed down to his left knee, then tumbled to his right about 4ft down into the fast moving rocky stream onto his side. He stayed down for a moment. I rushed forward and almost went off the bridge to help him before thinking better of it, running across to the far bank, downstream 5 feet then into the water.
He'd righted himself to knees, seemed to take stock for a split second then left out a roar like a Klingon letting the dead know a warrior was on the way.
"What's hurt?"
"I dislocated my shoulder"

I helped him up a little. Then we tried a little field medicine where I pulled the injured arm out from body and honked him on the shoulder. He roared again and despite being in severe agony moved out of the stream and away from me as if to communicate "we are not trying that again."

(I am going to gloss over the arguments we had about hypothermia and wet clothes)

Yada yada , helpful hikers staying with him

Yada yada my running back and forth on the trail .3 miles each way 3 times to a spot with cell phone reception

Yada yada, rescue dudes Adam and Mike arrive (they look 12 years old except for the beard and muscles) Jump over rescue team radio confusion. Charles WALKS out 2.5 miles with the shoulder OUT. Then I drive him to the hospital where there is NO waiting at all (perhaps the most shocking moment of the day). Nurse and doctor play with his arm for a while , they seem simultaneously professional & compassionate yet masochistic about it. "It's sooo close, tie that sheet to him and pull him the other way" Eventually they decide to drug him. I head back to the hotel to pick up dry clothes for him. At this point he admitted we weren't going to make the 645 dinner reservation. When I get back they haven't put it in yet because Charles has lots of well formed small muscles from swimming and a strong resistance to morphine that comes from I know not where. They add bursad to the drug cocktail. Charles is responsive but slurring. The little lip-smacking thing he does is now comically longs loud and hee-haw-esque. I cancel the dinner reservations entirely. Finally, after *6* hours the shoulder is back in. Charles is high as a kite and does not remember the xrays, the insertion, my leaving and coming back, and a bunch of other stuff. The take-away here is not that people who travel with me get hurt; it's that they get the treatment they need, they get dropped off at their parents, a story to tell, and a script for hydrocodone.

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