I have taken a lot of training hikes on Beazley Hill above town over the years. Beazley Hill offers a variety of hikes, flat to steep, and from short 3-milers to 11 miles or longer. On most hikes any breaks are kept to 5 minutes or less. Work hard, get the hike done. That’s been the case on every training hike until Saturday.
I left the South Kiosk at 5:30 am Saturday morning and hiked up the steep face of the Middle Towers. Then I made my way on the north side heading east just above the draw. Several years ago at the barbed wire fence someone installed a wooden ramp so that mountain bikers and hikers can cross the fence easily. The west approach has wood cleats for traction, but the east side is just steeply sloping boards. The temperature Saturday morning was 29-31 degrees. I was totally unaware that there was heavy frost/ice on the ramp.
My first step down the east side was a doozy – my left shoe slipped, and I was knocked unconscious when I landed hard on the wooden ramp. The left side took the full impact – head, ribcage and shoulder. When I woke up I was totally disoriented – I had no idea where I was nor where the car was parked. After minutes with no activity my Garmin had stopped – it read 1 hour 10 minutes and 2.25 miles. I stood up and resumed my hike trying to determine my orientation (location) and remember where the car was parked – at home or at one of the kiosks.
Trying to reconstruct the timeline, the best I can figure is that I had a 25-40 minute “power nap” on Beazley Hill. Yes, I made it home. Yes, I went to the walk-in clinic at Moses Lake and Becky drove. What was supposed to be a 2-hour wait at the clinic was only 10 minutes. The CT scan of my head showed nothing unusual and the x-ray of my ribs showed no cracks, but the possibility of one hairline fracture. I am sore as the dickens and moving quite slowly, but none the worse for wear. Coughing, sneezing, laughing are no fun. The thing I like about pain is that it tells you where you hurt. I hurt in multiple places, but this a temporary situation.
In the meantime, I am doing some planning for the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). The Pacific Crest is straight forward – single track, guidebook and maps easy to follow. The CDT guidebook says to “Embrace the Brutality”, and it is certainly an entirely different animal, a beast. My head is spinning from looking at maps for the first 45 miles – multiple route options, considerable cross-country hiking or road walking. Nothing makes sense. In addition to route finding issues, water in a huge concern. Maybe there are water caches, maybe not. Stock water may not be turned on. And notes on the maps say to beware that prickly pear cactus is abundant on cross country travel anywhere.
I can only say I’m unsure when my body will allow me to resume training. And I am uncertain where and when I will be back on one of the long-distance trails. As with many natural resource management questions, the answer to my hiking future begins with, “it all depends”.
3 March 2018