I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep much last night. I was warm, amazingly warm, until the effects of the food I had eaten earlier started to wear off. It always surprises me that we need food to heat ourselves. It isn’t something I think about from that perspective very often. But I thought about it a lot over the last 24 hours!
What was keeping me awake was worry. Fear. Uncertainty. What should I do? My hip felt somewhat better because I was warm but what would happen in the morning when it was cold and I was slipping and sliding on the snow? Post holing up to my knees. Could I manage to keep my hip from spasming and still make the 13 miles needed to get out today? I had very little food left so I couldn’t take a second day to walk out, especially with the cold. Worry, worry, worry.
In the end I decided to initiate my rescue beacon and let the chips fall where they may. It took me a bit to figure out how to make it work but with two way texting it was a breeze. I could communicate with Angela and Kat, as well as the emergency folks. I was, and am, embarrassed and a bit ashamed to have initiated a rescue as it is a use of resources I never thought I’d need. But I couldn’t see any other way to go, given the situation I found myself in.
So here is what happened. At about 8 am I set off the beacon. The device gives off a big warning, counting down from 20 seconds, giving one ample time to change ones mind before sending off the emergency request. Then someone from the emergency place, wherever that is, texted me, asking what my emergency was. I tell them, then the EMS folks sent my whereabouts to, in this case, the local sheriffs office. Those folks sent a helicopter out to find me and with my waving an umbrella back and forth, they saw me. Then flew away. What? I texted the emergency folks and they told me the pilot went back to decide on the right course of action. Ok, they saw me. That’s good.
I then hobbled up to the high point where the helicopter had hovered and waited.
In about a half an hour I heard them return and the pilot hoisted a guy down (Allen) and he hooked me to the line and up I went. I had to leave my pack and poles ($$$), but it was worth it. They were low on gas so they flew me to the Scott Valley airport, leaving Allen to wait for the pilot to return for him, after getting gas.
Allen, hoister supreme.
When I arrived at the airport there was an ambulance there, ready to take me to the hospital. I had to do some fancy talking to get out of that requirement but in the end, they got it that I knew what was going on and were ok with me signing away my right to assistance. Phew! Dodged a bullet on that one.
In the end everyone was nice and no one shamed me for using up resources. I talked to some nice people and waited because Allen was going to give me a ride to Etna. The sheriff was in radio contact with Allen and he told her he would try to bring my gear out when the helicopter returned to fetch him.
Isn’t that amazing? And he did, there by saving me tons of money and also not littering the wilderness. Wow.
The folks at the airport told me that the storm which had dumped so much snow in the high country was much bigger than predicted and was a surprise for this late in the season. Which was a relief since I thought I’d researched the area pretty well before hand. But Mo Nature will have her way, regardless of what I want or think should happen. One thing is certain, my hiking season in big country like that is definitely after mid-June or later. I’m just a fair weather backpacker. Which works for me.