Sunday, May 15, 2011

mountain rescue

so, after the excitement of san jacinto, which, quite frankly, was pretty jolly exciting, and a chilly cowboy camp at fuller ridge trail head (cowboy camping is just tarping it - sleeping under the stars), we were cruising our way down towards the desert floor.
en route we met a hiker - quijote (yep, there's this tradition on long trails over here i've giving people trail names - my name seems to be sliding towards 'phantom jimbrick' - wasn't going to mention that but there you go...) hunched over with no pack on the side of the trail (not track - i keep getting corrected - apparently a track is only something you run around)... she'd been vomiting since 7am (it was around 10). she urged us to go on - said she'd be fine, but annie and i walked with her. it was a beautiful day, and at this stage i was just thinking it would be a good opportunity to take more photos of flowers.
every so often she would need to stop and vomit, and sit down and rest. we made it 2 1/2 miles and then she collapsed in the shade. (one of the guys in our little group had taken over carrying her pack down.) we attempted to get some fluid into her, but she was throwing up violently. i gave her my brand new (less than 2 days old) down jacket, and tarp and sleeping bag liner - all of which received a good coating of vomit. her vitals were deteriorating steadily, and we were 5 1/2 miles from the nearest road, so eventually we called search and rescue and the sheriffs office. and they sent a helicopter out (this all took 6 hours at least). (alex and wiz had returned by this stage - so there was four of us with quijote).
it was incredibly windy, and we were on the side of a steep mountain, so initially we were wondering how it would land. it hovered near the rock we were standing on (they asked us if we had bright colours to attract it - my photos do this no justice but i was wearing bright blue, alex bright green, wiz bright yellow and annie purple and pink, and we were holding fluoro gear and bandanas up)and a dude looked like he was going to jump out, then it swerved away and they told us over a loud hailer that they'd be back in 30 minutes.
when they returned the pilot hovered just above the rock, and a third fellow jumped out, supported by the dude who was originally looking to jump. the jumper came across, briefed quijote on how to climb into a hovering helicopter off a boulder, and then they did it. it all sounds rather prosaic when i write it here, but it was ridiculously exciting. we were all grinning our heads off. after ringing quijote's father in kentucky (he was a physician - he asked me what my job was, and said i should come to kentucky - he wasn't sure what we could do together maybe drink a beer) we had to walk the 5 1/2 miles down the mountain.
the ubiquitous sugar moma was at the bottom (she's everywhere)- i'd called her originally before we realised how serious it was going to be, and she took us and a dude called nolan to a strange town called cabazon (in yogi's guide all the overview says is: kinda creepy. we had tea at ruby's diner, and then sugar moma dropped us back to the trail - where we found a box of oranges, and walked in about 3/4 of a mile and slept next to the trail below san jacinto.

quijote's still got my jacket, and last night i cowboyed above big bear (still possibly higher elevation than anything in australia), with my broken zippered sleeping bag, and awoke to a coating of ice. and a ridiculously swollen face - every time it's really cold my face swells up weirdly...

[marcus, i don't know if you're reading this, but i thought of you all the way up san jacinto, and i wrote you a post card during the helicopter rescue, which i left in sugar moma's car - wanted you to know i was thinking of you on top of that tough climb)

1 comment:

  1. Quijote was lucky to have you come along! Sugar moma sounds awesome and heaven sent. Love the photos, musings and updates. Praying for you, Take care Love Anita x PS I can't believe you took your sleeping bag with the broken zip!