Well, it happened like this:
On the day after Labor Day, I drove to LAX to pick up my friends, who were flying in from DC and Chicago, respectively. Spent the day picking up supplies, went out to dinner with my wife, and then we were getting ready to go to bed. But while setting up the cot for one of my friends, I stepped on a sewing needle that had been dropped on the rug. I pulled it out and notice that it was only the bottom two-thirds. I said, "I think the top part is broken off inside my foot," but my wife assured me that I'd be in a lot more pain if that were the case. And so we went to bed. When I got out of bed at 6:30 the next morning, though, I was pretty sure that I had a needle in my foot.
So, off to the emergency room, where an X-ray showed there was, indeed, about a centimeter of needle in the ball of my foot. But when the ER doctor tried to find it, all he succeeded in doing was making a nasty X-shaped cut in my foot. After ten minutes of digging around, he gave up, told me they'd have to do surgery and that it could be scheduled in about a week. I was crushed, not only that my trip was ruined, but that my friends' trips were as well.
A little while later, though, the doctor came back and said that he'd talked to the podiatrist on the staff, and that while he had a bunch of appointments he had to deal with first, he'd see me. Plus, they had a better X-ray machine that could get them live images and be turned to different angles.
So I hobbled over to the podiatry department and spent the next couple of hours staring at the wall until the doctor could get to me. I told him about my backpacking trip and how bummed I was. He used his X-ray machine and first announced that the ER guy wasn't even close. He stuck a needle in my foot, shot a picture, adjusted the needle, shot, moved the machine to another angle, shot again, moved the needle again, and so on until he had the exact track of the needle. Then he made a small incision and pulled it out. After stitching up the two wounds, he handed me a handful of bandages and some antibiotic ointment and said, "Use you own judgement on whether it hurts too much. Just keep it clean." I called my friends and said that we were going to have to play it by ear, but that we were driving to Mammoth as soon as I got home. And so, almost seven hours behind our planned departure, we hit the road and arrived in Mammoth at about 7 PM.
The next morning, I put a gauze pad over the stitches, taped it down, put some thick Moleskin foam pads on either side, put on a sock liner, heavy sock, and my heavy boots and was pretty much good to go. It hurt, but it wasn't stopping me. But it was slowing me up, and it combined with a series of delays caused by our late arrival (permits, etc.) that caused a late start out of Agnew Meadows. (I had dropped my friends off at the trailhead, then drove down to Devil's Postpile, where I had arranged a shuttle back to Agnew)
The plan had been to make the Nydivers, then climb Banner the next day, but reality was we got to Ediza and set up camp. The next day we followed the stream up to the base of Ritter and Banner, then climbed up to the Nydivers. But any idea of making the summit was gone.
We bushwhacked down the direct route back to Ediza. Someone else here asked about wind damage there, and we saw some trees downed, but not too bad. Spotting a better campsite, we moved our stuff.
Next day we did the classic Iceberg/Cecile/Minaret Lake route. The part around Iceberg was tough just because of the boulders and being forced to come down on the ball of my foot. Got to Minaret and found a great campsite.
We were on the trail at about 8 the next day and made rapid progress down to Devil's Postpile, Coming into the last couple of miles was where we saw the most extensive wind damage, with hundreds of trees down, seeming to increase the closer we got to the DP trailhead.
We were in the car by noon, cleaned up a bit at the ranger station restroom, got some burgers in Mammoth and were back home in L.A. by 7 PM.
So we didn't get to the top of Banner, but we still managed to make the trip happen, even with five stitches in my foot, and a good time was had by all.
The biggest drag on the trip, though, was that my Big Agnes Insulated Air Core mattress developed a slow leak that I can't find, so the nights weren't comfortable. I'll be returning it to REI as soon as I decide what I'm going to replace it with.
Last edited by Heyworth
on Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.