In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The price of admission just went up

Dusty had to actually work on Monday so that left me with the day to myself; much of which was spent in the library using their internet connection and catching up on things. He promised me another hike on Tuesday that I wouldn't forget and he was true to his word....good and bad.

We started by driving up an incredibly steep and rocky road before parking and crossing over a saddle to look down on Rock Creek Lake. There were mountain goats all over the side of the mountains and we were able to get somewhat close to a couple of them. The scenery didn't even look real and the closer we got to the lake the more incredible it looked. We were in no rush so we stopped to do a little fishing at the lake. We didn't fish very long but we were each able to catch a couple Rainbow Trout (at least that's what I think they are from pictures I've looked at). This was the first trout I ever caught. I hooked a couple little ones on our first hike but they were both “quick releases”. I'll let you decide who caught the bigger fish.

After that we did some more hiking up the mountain in the background of the above pictures where we had a fantastic view of the Elkhorn mountains. We were overlooking bucket lake but since most of it was still frozen we decided not to hike down to do some more fishing. We had a nice little picnic up on the peak before heading back around the side of the mountain above Rock Creek Lake. We had to cross some places that were pretty steep and put me a but out of my comfort zone but we got through them just fine and now I'll look at what at first seems impassable in a different way. As we started heading back down the mountain we got to some large snow fields and we started skiing down them. When the snow is just right it's fun and easy; just like Dusty demonstrates here.

Dusty makes it seem easy, but let me tell you, it isn't. After a couple successful runs I was following Dusty down a large snow field when I felt my left knee dislocate and I fell down. As soon as I landed on my ass I started picking up a lot of speed and I got a nice little glimpse of the bottom half of my leg at quite an unnatural angle. The whole time we'd been in the mountains Dusty had been telling me if I ever started sliding to roll over on my stomach and dig in my hands and feet. That's all well and good but I remembered wondering if I'd be able to remember that little nugget of info when/if the need arose. Happily it came without thinking and I immediately rolled over on my stomach and started digging in. As I started rolling over I felt my knee pop back into place but I wasn't exactly coming to a screeching halt as I dug in. There was no way I was going to dig in my left foot so I was loosing out on some braking but I wasn't too worried because I was slowed down considerably and there was a rock out cropping below me that would stop me but not hurt me. I ended up sliding to a stop about 15 feet above the rocks spewing out a string of expletives that would put Ralphy from A Christmas Story to shame.

Dusty got my pack pulled of and helped me down to the rocks so we could size up the situation. My knee hurt like hell but at least the knee cap was back in place. We still had a couple miles to get back to the truck which included finishing the descent to the lake, going around the lake, up the side of a steep ridge, and then back down to the truck on the other side. I wasn't too optimistic about me climbing out but decided we should get a start before it started to get really stiff.

Finishing the descent to the lake proved to be the hardest part since it was mostly down the snow fields and was hard for me to cross them since I couldn't really put pressure on my left leg. When we had to cross horizontally on the snow Dusty would go ahead and stomp foot holds into the snow and them come back so I could lean on him. When we had to go down I laid on my belly and slid down. This was all slow going and finally we decided I'd just lay on my back and hold one end of a strap while Dusty pulled me across the snow. This was much faster and a bit more fun since we had to dodge rocks and trees.

Once we got to the bottom it was pretty much flat across rocks to get around the lake. We found part of a dead pine that served as a walking stick and with the help of that I was able to limp my way around. Part way around the lake we were met by a couple that were camping on the lake. They offered their assistance and I was treated to Aspirin, a grandma made cookie, and best of all....duct tape! I asked their names twice but still forgot (I suck at names), but I did get their picture.

We used the duct tape to help stiffen up the knee joint and it made a world of difference. The longer I walked the better my knee felt, which is the opposite of what I was afraid of. It was slow going but going uphill was actually pretty easy and not that painful. Going down and side hill were a little more painful but even those went all right. Once I realized that I would be able to hike out in OK condition I was back in good spirits and actually enjoyed the hike and the views.

When we got back to the house I peeled the duct tape off my pants and was astounded at what a difference it made. With the duct tape I could get along fairly well, without it it felt like I was nearly immobile and I could hardly support any weight on my left leg. The knee was swollen up badly and looked about the same when I woke up this morning, maybe even a little worse. After hobbling around the house for a while I figured out that my tripod made for a good cane substitute and helped me get around much better. I drove into town where I got a knee brace which helped a ton and I also picked up a real cane.

Let me tell you; I'm totally stylin' and profilin' as I walk down the street now. I got all the ladies starin' at me! But I think it's more of a "what's wrong with that freak type of stare".

Thankfully there's nothing I actually have to do until Monday when I go to work for a week in Portland. I'm hoping to be semi-mobile by then.


debbieuu said...

Alan, this is your mother. What is this with your knee popping in and out?! Being pulled around on the end of a rope?! I knew it was only a matter of time until something would happen to you and I hope and pray this is the worst of it. Thank goodness for your common sense and that you were with someone. I like it much better when you're not alone. Take good care of that knee.

Mark said...

Hey Alan, it's not nice to make your mother worry.

Edith Clarken said...

Al - I am also glad you were with someone. Sliding down hills you are out of control. I hope your knee snaps out of it. From experience once you hurt something it usually continues to give you trouble. Take care you have only one body!

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.