TrekkingGoneAwry_November25_Part2


You wouldn’t believe a large, beautiful, nearly level granite boulder would spell disaster, would you? I certainly didn’t. As we came up over the crest of the hill, reaching the halfway point, I thought, “Yes! We’ve reached the tamer part of the trail without any major injuries!” 

I happily stepped onto that big, beautiful, nearly level boulder when all of a sudden I slid and toppled over to the right. As I was going down, I heard a snapping sound and felt a lightning bolt of searing pain explode in my left ankle leading to sudden pins and needles in my left big toe. Immediately I began to yell, “oh my God! Something’s wrong!”

My two favorite people came running to assess the situation as I examined my left ankle. I sat and cried for a minute as I worked up the courage to examine my ankle. The nurse in me was relieved when I saw there was no blood coming through my sock. I pressed on the outside of my ankle and felt crunching, but it actually wasn’t painful so I went to my favorite coping mechanism next, DENIAL. My favorite people helped me stand up. I could stand on my foot, but walking was pretty painful so I sat down again to cry and feel sorry for myself for a minute. “Well, at the very least, this is a bad sprain.”

The next thing to flood my mind was how the heck to get off that mountain? Sure we were at the beginning of the tamer section, but it is still 1.5 miles of challenging terrain. 

Then I started to cry as I anxiously considered the ramifications of immobility in the coming weeks ahead. My whole life revolves around mobility. No work means no pay. 

I’m so thankful I was with my favorite people. They brought me back to the present as we made a plan to get off the mountain. I was under the impression that self rescue was the only way to go based on stories of the high cost of search and rescue. We decided to push on, me sliding slowly and carefully down the steep section in a 3 limbed crab walk. But with me stopping every 5 minutes to cry anxiously, we didn’t get very far. My favorite second son finally insisted on calling 911 to see if search and rescue would hike up to meet us. Admitting the mountain won this time, I sat there listening to half a conversation.

 “My mom rolled her ankle and fell. She can’t keep hiking. Can you send help up the trail and meet us? Really? Really!? The sheriff said since it’s going to be dark soon, he’s going to call for the helicopter. Well we don’t have $10,000 for a helicopter. Really? Oh wow! He says it’s free!” 

45 minutes later, we sat in awe as a helicopter came towards us. Every hiker stopped to watch the show. The helicopter came right to us, hovered for about 5 minutes, turned around and flew away. I rightly guessed they were making an assessment on how best to proceed. After another 15 minutes they returned. They hovered as close to a safe spot as they could and a search and rescue volunteer hopped off. He came down to me with a giant red sling. His name was Brian. He helped me get into the sling, affectionately called the screamer because well,  people scream when they’re in it. Then we got all hooked up to a thick cable and away we went, flying off into the sunset. We were dangling 100 feet under the helicopter as it flew to the trailhead. The trip took less than 10 minutes. And no. I did not scream. I’m not afraid of heights. πŸ™ƒ

At the bottom, a friendly EMT checked me over from head to toe. My heart rate and BP were elevated. Adrenaline. She took off my shoe and sock. My ankle was the size of a soft ball. No bruising though. My heart soared as I continued to believe it was just a sprain. She was so friendly and kind. She carefully wrapped my ankle with a kerlix, a splint, and ace wraps. The only thing they didn’t have was a set of crutches. They offered to take me to the nearest ER, but I politely declined. Too expensive for a non-emergency. Urgent care would be the place for me. 

Jeff from the Pinal County Sheriff’s department helped me into his truck and drove me back to my car. On the way, he told me to spread the news about the free helicopter services provided by the Pinal County Search and Rescue Posse. They are a 501c, not for profit organization. All their equipment and funds come from donations. So awesome! I will be adding them to my giving list when I get back on my financial feet. They are real life heroes. All volunteers. Amazing. 

Shortly after getting to my car, my people arrived. They flew off that mountain! On foot! It was well after sunset when we left the wilderness. By now we were all famished so we hit the drive through of In N Out for burger πŸ” and headed home 🏑. Since I was convinced my ankle was only sprained, I decided Urgent care was going to have to wait until morning. The day ended with me thanking God for catching me once again and believing things were going to be okay, thankful for all the love I was shown by strangers and friends alike. 

To be continued…

Happy Saturday!

TrekkingGoneAwry_November25_Part1


#optoutside is REI’s campaign to skip Black Friday, to close their store so their employees can go out and have fun. And they challenge all the rest of us to join them. I wanted to participate last year, but work. But this year I got the day off AND had the added bonus of having both my favorite people here to celebrate with me. So yay!

We chose to do Siphon Draw to the Flatiron, a monolith in the Superstition Wildnerness. The one with 2000+ feet of elevation gain in 3 miles. The one with the hand over hand boulder hopping scramble to the top. The one that is a well known challenge throughout the Phoenix region. This is one of those hikes that real hikers have to do, because in the words of John Muir, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” The one I did last year with my hiking buddies that required us to call search and rescue for another hiker. The one. The big one.

We got to the trailhead just after 10am. Perfect weather. Blue skies. High of 75Β°. Right from the start, the climb is steady. The first half of the trail is wide, mostly smooth, with rocks and railroad ties as a stairway to the draw. The draw is a massive, 50 foot granite formation that looks like an enormous sliding board. It’s called a draw because when it rains, it draws the water into it and flows down into the canyon through a wash. We reached the draw in 90 minutes. When it’s dry, it’s easy to climb to the top of the draw.

Once you get up over the draw, the hike gets really interesting. The top half is a boulder hopping, hand over foot climbing extravaganza that will make any mountaineering lover happy. It was more fun for me this time because I knew what to expect. Being only 5 feet tall, this is hike is quite a challenge for me. But the camaraderie of the hiking community comes through every time. Complete strangers pull together and help each other out so all who want to succeed, succeed. πŸ™‚

We made it to the top in 3 hours. It was a great accomplishment. Once we were up there, we took time to enjoy the views, take photos, and have a little lunch. 30 minutes later, we began the descent.

For some of you, going down is easier than going up. Not true for me. Going down is when I do my best falling. Again, probably because I’m the size of an average 10 year old. πŸ™„ I descend almost as slowly as I ascend.

Everything started out fine. The first big hurtle is near the top of the mountain, a boulder wall that is approximately 7 or 8 feet high. With the help of my favorite people, I carefully made my way down the wall, breathing a sigh of relief. Now all that was left was to hop and sit and slide the rest of the way down to the draw. About 1/4 of the way down, I slipped on a boulder, my feet flying forward, landing on my butt with a thud. It wouldn’t be a real hike if I don’t fall once. With that out of the way, we continued on our way.

The halfway point of the hike consists of a bit of a rollercoaster style hill made of craggy rocks and boulders. It’s a bit of a down up and over spot. We climbed up to the top of this spot without incident. As we were going up I said, “I’m so glad there were no major injuries out here today.”  About 5 minutes later, as we crested that rocky outcropping, those words would come back to mock me.

To be continued…

Happy Friday!

Trekking_Mile436.08_Mile477.58

The last 2 months have been filled with water hikes and high elevation hikes and even a Pennsylvania hike. When the temperatures became sweltering, I did my best to stay near water, higher elevations, or super early morning hours. 

Highlights of all the hikes of the last 2 months ::

  • Cibecue Falls | 3.1 miles | Located in the Salt River Canyon, this trail was like a mini version of The Narrows in Zion National Park. Sweeping canyon views, cool flowing Salt River waters, cable ferry remains, and even a bald eagle siting! All ending at a gorgeous water fall! Very cool hike! This trail is accessible for all vehicles IF you take the 4 mile dirt road at a nice slow pace. 
  • Gold Ridge Trail 47 | 3.19 miles | Found this hike by accident. The original plan was to hike on the AZT in Payson with #1, but the weather was very threatening up Payson way so we made a u-turn and pulled over at the first trailhead we saw. This trail led us into the Tonto National Forest, even though there’s nothing foresty about this. At all. Glad I got to hike that day, but ultimately wouldn’t do this one again unless I was going further into the wilderness. 
  • Dreamy Draw Loop | 5.76 miles | I think it’s funny they call this trail dreamy. There’s nothing dreamy about it IMHO. The trail is in the Phoenix Mountain Park, not marked well at all. Every time I hike there, I’m reminded of why I don’t hike there. I always feel like I’m going to run out of water and get stranded. Side note fun fact :: there is a dam where there is allegedly a UFO buried underneath. I never saw the dam so I can neither confirm nor deny such a tall tale. 
  • Sabino Canyon Dam | 2 miles | This is a quick and fun little hike in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Went with #1 who came to Tucson for my last weekend of call. He was like a little kid as he sat in the water and ‘panned’ for gold. Haha! I really like this park and definitely recommend a visit to anyone. 
  • Butterfly Trail/Mt Bigelow | 5 miles | About 2/3 of the way up to Mt Lemmon is the Buttefly Trail. It’s in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and part of an AZT bypass. Don’t let the name fool you. This trail is strenuous. And who doesn’t love a high elevation mountain trail? Did this one with #1 too. Surrounded by giant pine trees and cool mountain breezes. This is a must hike Trail if you are a must hike individual like me. πŸ™‚
  • Highline to Donahue Trail | 7.45 miles | Located in Pine AZ, this is part of the AZT. The Highline Trail itself runs for more than 50 miles and was created to be a link between all the ranches on the Mogollon Rim. Set in the high country, surrounded by giant pine trees 🌲 and wildflower meadows, cooler temperatures, and stunning vistas, this is also a must do hike for all avid trekkers. 
  • Delaware + Lehigh Canal Trail | 7 miles | This was my bonus Pennsylvania hike. I made a quick trip home 🏑 to see my sister as she prepares for breast cancer treatment. Beautiful trail that follows the original towpath of the old Lehigh Canal. If you follow the entire trail, it covers almost 70 miles of old canal towpaths. Very cool trail!
  • Granite Mountain Trail 261 | 8 miles | First hike of autumn πŸ‚ with #1, who is becoming a very good hiking buddy after not being interested in hiking as much as me. This one is in the Prescott National Forest 🌳, about 2.5 hours NW of Phoenix. Beautiful high elevation. Expansive views. Giant granite outcroppings. Great hike to celebrate autumn AND National Public Lands day. 

Happy First Monday of autumn πŸ‚!
I’m hiking 1000MilesForMercyShips. For every mile I hike, I’m donating $1 to help cover the cost of life altering surgery in west African nations.

478 miles down. 522 miles to go.