This is the original matter-of-fact post on Mono County SAR:
Here’s my more detailed perspective. An even more detailed recounting will be in a trip report of my entire trip, probably not until later this fall or this coming winter.August 8, 2019 #29
On August 8, 2019, at approximately 2:16 pm, the Team received a report of a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) in Little Slide Canyon. The Team responded to the trailhead at Mono Village, and field teams hiked toward the location. Prior to the arrival of the field teams, CHP H40 was able to extract the subject.
On the last day of my 7 day trip to Matterhorn and Spiller Creek Canyons, I was descending Little Slide Canyon. I had managed to deal with the upper snowfields by circumnavigating and/or hiking over them. A couple of miles down the canyon, another snowfield was blocking the use trail. A creek came down on the far side of the snowfield. On the rocks beyond, a duck marked the use trail’s path. While crossing the snowfield, I realized the snow hung over the edge of the creek and so was not fully supported underneath. I dropped down on my stomach to better distribute my weight and move to my right, away from the creek. Suddenly, I was sliding down uncontrollably and dropped 7 feet into the creek. As I lay on my back with the water running over me, blood gushing from my face, and excruciating pain in my shoulder and left leg, I realized I was barely able to move, much less hike out, and needed help. I pushed the SOS button on my SPOT messenger. It was 12:35
Using my trekking pole, I managed to get on my feet well enough to sit on the rock in front of me. I got my pack and camera bag off, leaving them on top of the rock. I staggered a few feet down the creek, climbed up on the bank, and lay down. As well as I could manage, I began blowing my rescue whistle. After about 15 minutes, husband and wife climbers from, of all places, Patagonia found me. They placed me with their sleeping pads behind me, fetched my pack and camera bag, got out my sleeping bag, and draped it over me to treat for shock. They then proceeded to fetch from the pack my spare glasses (mine had flown off in the fall) and additional clothing while staying with me until search and rescue came.
Another two hikers came along about half hour or so hour later and they also stayed with me. Words cannot express how grateful I am to these 4 people for making sure I was okay, as comfortable as possible, and straying with me until search and rescue arrived.
Sometime after 4:00, a helicopter finally appeared. My saviors waved, jumped up and down, and even made eye contact with the pilot. However, the helicopter few off. About a half-later, another smaller helicopter appeared. How the pilot was able to fly a helicopter in the narrow confines of Little Slide Canyon is extraordinary. The helicopter hovered straight overhead and dropped down a paramedic, Jim, to assess what was needed. The helicopter then landed a couple of hundred yards away.
Jim communicated with the helicopter with a walkie-talkie. He looked at my shoulder and thought it might be a broken clavicle. I was thinking, with assistance, I could walk to the helicopter. Jim helped me stand up and determined I was not really able to walk anywhere, much less to the helicopter. Since weight was a concern, they first flew my gear down to Twin Lakes, one my saviors carrying my pack and camera to the helicopter. They had me lie down in one of those helicopter stretchers. Due to the pain on my left shoulder, squeezing into the stretcher was rather difficult. Once I was all strapped in, I was hoisted up to the helicopter. All I could see was small rectangle view straight above me. A woman paramedic smiled at me and leaned out over my body to secure me to the helicopter. She said more to me, but I was unable to discern much above the din of the helicopter beyond that she knew exactly what she was doing and I was safe. They dropped me off in a meadow, fetched Jim, loaded my stretcher into the helicopter and flew me to the waiting ambulance in Twin Lakes.
They moved me from the helicopter stretcher to an ambulance gurney. Once in the ambulance, it was over an hour to the hospital in Mammoth Lakes. The paramedic in the ambulance asked me all the proper medical history questions and gave me some fentanyl for the pain. At Mammoth Lakes, I was finally able to phone my wife, who had been apprised of the rescue by Crystal at Mono Country SAR. The emergency room doctors and nurses, indeed everyone, at Mammoth Hospital, were fabulous. After scans and x-rays, they determined my shoulder was dislocated and not broken, in fact, I didn’t have any broken bones. The doctor and nurse reset my shoulder, and then moved me to a room in the ICU.
I spent all day Friday being well cared for by the doctors and nurses at Mammoth Hospital. My wife and son arrived that afternoon and spent the night in a motel nearby the hospital. On Saturday, they fetched my car back in Twin Lakes. The doctor said I was allowed to go home if I saw my Kaiser doctor as soon as possible. My wife drove me over Tioga Pass and then home.
The upshot of it all is I have been home and recovering. Aside from multiple bruises, the injuries come down to 3 fractured teeth and a damaged rotator cuff. I’m just happy nothing was broken. I’m grateful and thankful to the extraordinary people at Mono County Search and Rescue, Mammoth Hospital, and the four people whose names I am unable to recall who stayed with me until the helicopter took me away.