Saturday, July 7, 2007

Apr 28 - The day "disaster struck"

I'll let Michael tell the story of this outing:

It all started late Saturday afternoon while Bill and I were snowshoeing in the Sierras at the Carson Pass near Kirkwood Ski Resort.  The snowshoeing started out great and it went well most of the day until disaster struck.  We were on our way back at nearly 9,000 feet in a very remote area about 1.5 miles from the parking lot on Route 88 at Carson Pass.  Bill started having shortness of breath, chest tightness and pain, nausea and he felt extremely weak.  He couldn't walk 10 feet without enormous effort.  We stopped to rest hoping it was just altitude sickness but he did not improve after 45 minutes.  We were worried about darkness approaching and at 3:40 p.m. we agreed I had to go for help.  His dog Raleigh went with me.  Raleigh was a real trooper during this whole ordeal and it was very poignant to see how worried he was when Bill vomited.  He definitely knew something was wrong.  I was following our snow tracks back but it had been a warm, sunny day and they had melted in many spots and I managed to get lost.  I'll be honest and tell you I was more than a little worried at that point because I knew time was not on our side.  Bill had been the guide (as usual) but we didn't have maps because we had changed our route because the planned route did not have much snow.  It took me more than an hour to get back to Route 88.  But I came out of the woods 2 miles away from the lot which actually worked out better because I was closer to a store where there was cell reception.  I flagged down a car and got a ride almost immediately from a nice, young couple with a dog.  Unfortunately, in the excitement of loading Raleigh into a small car with another dog in it, I left my snowshoes and poles behind (a small loss).  I called 911 and soon after the fire and sheriff personnel arrived.  They were planning to hike in to locate  him and then call a helicopter to take him out.  I convinced them to let me go with the helicopter to find him and save time.  They were reluctant due to safety rules and previous times when people were unsuccessful.  

I rode with the emergency helicopter and we located Bill (not an easy task without a map and 1,000 feet above ground) within 10 minutes of takeoff.  And Bill, being the savvy out-doorsman he is , helped enormously by reflecting a mirror when he heard the helicopter.  We landed and 2 great looking nurses named Kelly and Jenny gave him emergency treatment (nitroglycerin spray, oxygen and IV fluids).  We loaded him onto the helicopter (Bill, it's time to lose some weight) within 2.5 hours from when I left him.  It turns out Bill had a heart attack, not a major attack (but then again that's easy for me to say).  In fact he did not think it was an MI when it occurred but he had 2 stents implanted Saturday night.

I don't have too much to add.  I never felt I was in any danger, aside from danger of staying the night out in the cold.

I'm doing well now (upcoming posts will reveal that I'm back out on the trails).  Mostly coming to grips with the fact that I maybe can't wander wherever I want in the mountains by myself.  That's a bummer.

Hike totals: 4 mi, 1500' elevation gain
2007 totals: 149 miles, 32, 800' elevation gain

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