Thursday, September 6, 2012

Labor Day Adventure

It's taller than me
On Labor Day 2011 I embarked on a 720 mile journey to begin were I had started. You can read about it here. This Labor Day I had another unexpected adventure.

Danielle and Amy invited me to go on a Labor Day hike with them to a place called Romero Pools north of Tucson. I brought my roommate Kevin along, but didn’t know the other nine people that went on the hike. Even though we left early in the morning it was incredibly hot. The hike was beautiful and I finally got the cliché picture that every non-Arizonan needs of hugging a cactus.  I've seen a lot of these pictures and typically the person "hugging" the cactus isn't even touching it.  I made sure to give my cactus a real hug.

Amy jumping in the water
There were a lot of people at the pools and we had a blast jumping from 20 foot ledges into the water and swimming around. While we were hanging out in one of the pools I stepped on something that felt unnaturally smooth. I pulled it out of the water and was surprised to see that it was a waterproof camera. The screen said, “Memory card full,” and the only thing on the camera was a 52 minute video. I played the video and it showed a guy yelling, “Anything is possible!” and then jumping 20 feet into the water with camera in hand which he promptly dropped on impact (that’s why it’s import to fasten the strap around your wrist). The camera kept recording and I could see the guy looking for the camera. He got really close a few times, but never found it. I asked a few people if it belonged to them, but no one claimed it. Not too much of a surprise considering it’d been at the bottom of a murky pool for more than an hour. I am now the owner of a Kodak underwater camera that I really have no use for.

You can barely see Donald and Charity in the back.
At this point we had no idea Donald was hurt.

The results of scouting (the stretcher, not the shirtless men)
After hanging out at the pools for about an hour we decided to head out. That’s when we noticed that Donald could barely walk. I have to admit that up to this point I’d never said a word to Donald or his girlfriend Charity. Apparently right we when arrived at the pools Donald accidently slipped down a rock and fell 10 feet. We didn’t know this at the time, but he had broken one ankle and sprained the other. Since we thought he had only twisted his ankle we decided to walk the three miles back to our cars (really didn't have any other choices). With much effort and with the help of the strong guys in the group (myself not included) Donald made it about a quarter of a mile. He couldn’t go any further and we realized we were in real trouble. The Eagle Scouts in the group (once again, myself not included) fashioned a stretcher for him out of the trunks of two century plants and our t-shirts. It was pretty ingenious. However, the narrow trail and extreme heat quickly convinced us that we weren’t going to make it back. We made it about 100 yards then camped out under a tree.

Charity called the park services and they said they were sending someone up who would be there in about an hour. We were expecting someone to come up with a real stretcher so we could carry Donald down the mountain. An hour and forty minutes later a sheriff (I think that’s who he said he was) showed up with a medic. The medic hung an IV bag from the tree were sitting under and gave Donald some morphine. And then he said that a helicopter would be coming soon to pick him up and take him to the hospital. Now, you’ve got to understand that it’s pretty hard to break the spirits of 13 Mormons and even though we were in the midst of a tragedy we had a pretty good time hanging out under that tree (except for Donald, of course, who was in excruciating pain). And when we saw a helicopter show up, circle around us, and then land on hill close to us you’d think it was Christmas morning.  It was pretty cool.

Christmas morning
They loaded Donald up on the chopper and whisked him off to safety.  The helicopter wasn't super-wide and we could see Donald's legs hanging out the door as they flew away.  As soon as Donald was gone Charity bolted off down the hill so she could meet him at the hospital. That left the 11 of us with nothing to whisk us away and we had some problems of our own. We had planned on a three hour hike and had now been gone for nearly seven hours. I thought I had been smart taking two liters of water, but my water and everyone else’s was gone. As we started to trek down the mountain we encountered volunteers with backpacks full of cold water and Gatorade who were there just to help us. I quickly downed a few bottles of water and felt very refreshed, but then more and more volunteers showed up offering us water. I started to politely decline the water only to be told, “Don’t make me carry this back down the mountain!” So I took the water with a grateful smile and just stuffed it in my backpack. I ended up drinking six or seven bottles and had four in my backpack. They brought A LOT of water.

"Let's pretend like we're friends." -Amy Flood
When we got to the trail head we saw a news truck, ambulances, and fire trucks, all for us. It was a bit overwhelming and a little unnecessary, but they just wanted to make sure we were all okay. They took everyone’s vitals and I had low blood pressure (97 over 70), but I felt fine. They told me to drink more water. Mostly, I was just hungry. I had expected to be home at noon at it was now 5pm and all I’d eaten that day was a bowl of cereal and a granola bar. I counted over 50 people including medics, parks service people, and volunteers who had helped us that day. I had not realized that we were such a big deal. There was even a story about us on the news.  Here's a link to the news story.  However, in classic news fashion the story had one glaring error.  The reporter said that Donald jumped into shallow water, but he had fallen not jumped and he didn't even land in water.  The story makes us seem like careless people when in reality we are carefree people.

Also, after four years of blogging I just learned how to add captions to my photos.  Yes, I'm that tech-savy.

1 comment:

Allison said...

WOW! That is a great story. Well, not so great for Donald. But it will be soon.