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Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby ManOfTooManySports » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:16 pm

OK, I'll play. Back when I was young and exceptionally stupid, I decided to climb Mt. Goddard all by my very lonesome. I was traversing above Lake 11,951 and needed to drop some elevation to avoid a dodgy looking snowfield. I stepped on a nice flat piece of talus that turned out to be round at the bottom. I fell backwards, with the impact being a pointed rock right into my spine mid-back. I landed in a sitting position and immediately felt relief that I could wiggle my toes. I rested for a while and watched two guys cross the southern shore of the lake.

Remember I said I was stupid? I decided to finish the climb. As I climbed down from the summit I realized that I was injured. I made it back to my camp somewhere toward Black Giant Pass, packed up my gear, and tried to get as close to the trailhead as I could. Which was the first wise thing I did, because the original plan was to do the whole stretch from the Ionian Basin over Echo Col to the trailhead in one shot the next day.

One the way toward Helen Lake I met a beautiful girl my age camping by herself. It was the perfect pick-up situation. I could not believe that was happening. Especially the part where I had to move on a few miles to get closer to the col. These opportunities just don't happen to geeks like me!

That night I looked for blood, etc. on my clothes. Nothing doing. Then I reached around to where the impact was and touched it with my finger. Yes, those were my screams echoing down the canyon.

Next day I hustled over Echo Col and down the trail...where I tripped and dragged by shin over an upright rock. Brilliant. Fortunately there was a snowfield nearby where I could get snow to ice the wound. I had that scar for a couple of decades.

A couple of days after getting home I finally went to the doctor. He had an x-ray taken but it was inconclusive whether there was in fact a crack in my spine. It took me months for the injury to heal, leading me to believe I did break it. If the break had been bad enough to cause paralysis, I likely would have died that night from exposure.

I am so much more cautious now!



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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby Timberline » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:42 pm

For me, nothing as serious as some here have reported, but I 'spect they all hurt, no matter how big or small. My biggest challenge was simply getting seriously gimpy coming down from Whitney all the way to the Portal in '72 after being too ambitious the previous three days of burning up the trail from our entry at Onion Valley (Laura Molnar "Moosie" and her pal reported doing the same whole route in about 24 hours - - ooch!). By the time I reached the parking lot, I could no longer walk, my right knee was completely shot. I suspect that's the source of the osteoarthritis that now plagues me every day. I consider myself lucky anyway, after years of x-c high country travel and not a scratch. Pain schmain, it was worth it! :nod:
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby lostcoyote » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:11 pm

sprained an ankle once on a weekend trip to george lake in kaiser wilderness.
broke my large left toe (hairline fracture) doing something dumb at ruby lake where i slipped and my foot got wedged in between 2 rocks - went on to backpack with broken toe for 2 weeks thru bear lakes basin and on south into ionian basin - finishing up at courtright..
other than that, some occasional cuts and bruises.... and with older age coming along, my knees get sore pretty easily now.

how about you maverick?
you started this topic but haven't chimed in with any cuts and bruises yet - hehehe.
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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby Tom » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:42 am

In late October (during the end of the 80's) I was fishing the streams around Crabtree Meadows. Early one morning I stepped on a log that was frosted over and landed on the log in the middle of my back. I lay stunned and assessed how I was. I felt okay and knew that I would be sore.

A day later I had worked my way into Junction Meadows on the Kern. By late afternoon I had blood in my urine and bladder spasms were making it hard to control my bladder. By bed time I was scared and devising a plan to take care of myself. I decided to make my way towards the ranger station that was at the south end of SEKI.

There was no one else around but I thought that I might run across another late season fisherman. If I didn't find anyone else then the other part of the plan was to hope that there was still a ranger in residence since there hadn't been much snow.

It took 2 days to get to the ranger station. I walked slowly and gingerly trying not to jar or bounce much. I noticed that I was still passing urine but it was mis-colored and went from dark red to a light pink as I got closer to the ranger cabin. By the time I hit the meadow at the ranger station I was doing well. My urine was clear and the spasms had stopped. I cut the trip short and took the direct route out to my doctor.

It was determined that I had badly bruised a kidney and there was no evidence of permanent damage.
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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby Tom » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:42 am

In late October (during the end of the 80's) I was fishing the streams around Crabtree Meadows. Early one morning I stepped on a log that was frosted over and landed on the log in the middle of my back. I lay stunned and assessed how I was. I felt okay and knew that I would be sore.

A day later I had worked my way into Junction Meadows on the Kern. By late afternoon I had blood in my urine and bladder spasms were making it hard to control my bladder. By bed time I was scared and devising a plan to take care of myself. I decided to make my way towards the ranger station that was at the south end of SEKI.

There was no one else around but I thought that I might run across another late season fisherman. If I didn't find anyone else then the other part of the plan was to hope that there was still a ranger in residence since there hadn't been much snow.

It took 2 days to get to the ranger station. I walked slowly and gingerly trying not to jar or bounce much. I noticed that I was still passing urine but it was mis-colored and went from dark red to a light pink as I got closer to the ranger cabin. By the time I hit the meadow at the ranger station I was doing well. My urine was clear and the spasms had stopped. I cut the trip short and took the direct route out to my doctor.

It was determined that I had badly bruised a kidney and there was no evidence of permanent damage.
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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby windknot » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:42 am

A sprained ankle, a bad case of altitude sickness on my first-ever backpacking trip as a kid, and a few minor falls that didn't leave any lasting damage.

This is nothing compared to most of you, so either I should count myself as extremely lucky or just plan on accumulating more injuries with the more days I spend out there. Or both.
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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby Trent » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:25 pm

Reading all these replies,,,, there's a couple of thing to be aware of, "injury wise".

First of all, if you're "solo" in the backcountry and have a misfortune, break an ankle, get AMS [cerebral or pulmonary edema] or something, you're going to be a "permanent fixture" there unless you have some sort of "communication" with the outside world. I carry a sat phone [Iridium] and a NOAA 406 mh rescue beacon. I've tested the sat phone in some very remote areas,,,, it's always worked.

The Park Service's "emergency" phone number [Sequoia / King's Canyon], to be used only if there's a true emergency, is 559/ 565-3195. While this may seem paranoic, consider that you may run across some other person in distress. The "Spot" things don't always work in the backcountry for some reason.

Secondly, if you have to be flown out [helicopter] be aware that they are [the Sheriff's Department, Park Service, etc] going to send you the bill. It ain't cheap, figure on $10,000 or so.

The answer to this is "Global Rescue" insurance 617/ 459-4200 [Globalrescue.com]. The deal is that if you are more than 160 miles from your "home base" [your residence] they will cover the cost of your "rescue", the cost of getting you to the hospital, and if need be the cost of getting you all the way back to your home. From virtually anywhere on the planet. It does not cover your actual medical expenses, just the rescue and transportation part.

I've got it, just hope I never have to use it.
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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby calipidder » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:41 pm

A few weeks ago I was barely able to finish a race due to a stress fracture in my foot (was setting a PR for four miles when I stopped to 'stretch out the cramp in my foot' and couldn't take another step, hopped for the final two miles - fun times). It hasn't healed as fast as I'd hoped so I've just cancelled next week's planned 8 days of peak bagging out of Miter Basin. I've been in a pretty crappy mood since the injury, especially now that I've cancelled the trip that I've been planning since January, but reading through this thread has me grateful that it's nothing worse. I'll be off my feet a few more weeks, and hopefully back in time for my Labor Day trip into Horton Lakes (Basin and Tom, here I come). It's really killing me to miss this time of year in the Sierra, though. :cursing:

Anyways, like some others here I am fortunate that my on-trail injuries have been of the bumps and bruises variety - nothing requiring early exits or evacuations. I once went on an overnight snowcamp when I was coming down with "just a mild cold - the fresh air will help". 24 hours later, after an unpredicted storm (3 ft instead of the 2 inches in the forecast), breaking trail through fresh powder and shoveling our car out of the snowpark, I was curled up on the passenger seat in a delirium. By the next morning I was suffering from bronchitis and a double ear infection. Every time I want to go to the mountains with the comment "I'm not feeling great but the fresh air will be good for me" my husband reminds me of that trip.
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Re: Injuries Suffered During Backpacking Trips

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:39 pm

Lostcoyote wrote:
how about you maverick?
you started this topic but haven't chimed in with any cuts and bruises yet - hehehe.


Have been very fortunate/lucky to not have any type of cut, bruise, sprain or break.
Hope I did not just jinxed myself. :(
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