Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011

Start mile: 190
End mile: 206

Bit of a slow start for the group today as we hit the trail at 8:00. The difference between the snowy wonderland of Mt San Jacinto and Fuller Ridge the day before, and the lack if snow today was quite interesting and seemed a sudden change. We started down the rest of the ridge and were on pace to make it to the next water source at mile 205.5 by 1:00pm.

At about 10:40am we came across a female hiker named Quixote who was taking a break along the side of the trail. We exchanged the usual pleasantries of "how are you doing?" and found out that she had come down with what sounded like food poisoning, but could also have been giardia or something similar. She said she had been sick to her stomach with diarrhea and vomiting since 7:00am this morning, someone she was hiking with was carrying her pack down, and she would be fine and she would continue on. The others she was hiking with had gone on ahead and were going to get water at the next source ~7.5 miles down the trail. Sometime during this exchange Quixote had another bout of vommiting and Annie decided then that she would hike behind her until we made it to the bottom. We caught up with Mudflap shortly thereafter carrying Quixote's pack. Mudflap and Speedbump took turns carrying the pack until they made it down to the bottom.

The rest of us (Annie, Wiz, Kylie, and I) hung around with Quixote trying to get her to keep sipping water/Gatorade so she wouldn't get dehydrated. We made it about 2 miles further down the trail taking breaks every so often to rest, or sometimes for another round of heaving.

At about 12:30 we stopped to take a break, which would end up being the last break spot we would take. Quixote was feeling much worse at this point, could not keep anything down, and after a while said she didn't think she could walk any further down the trail. During this stop we were able to get her dad on the phone, who also happened to be a physician. We told him about what was going on and got some advice about what to do, which boiled down to: keep her sipping on Gatorade until she can keep it down, and get her down the trail and to a doctor as soon as possible.

Based on how things were going, at about 1:10 Annie and Wiz started making calls to the local police and search and rescue folks to get help getting Quixote off the mountain and to a hospital. After getting information about how Quixote (Sarah) was doing, they started getting together a ground team and a helicopter to see which would be the quickest way to get her down. Over the next 3:30 hours we did our best to make sure Sarah was as comfortable as possible and that she kept sipping Gatorade.

Helicopters finally started flying up to look for us at about 3:45. We were able to signal them with our brightly colored clothing and gear and they hovered close for awhile before moving off and announcing that they would be back in about 20-30 minutes and not to move, which we had no intention of doing. Around the same time, Sarah emptied her stomach of Gatorade again and was laying in misery next to the trail. About 10 minutes later she started sipping Gatorade again and was soon starting to feel better.

When the helicopter returned, it hovered near the hillside where we were located, and an S&R member hopped down onto a rocky ledge near us. He made his way over, explained how Sarah and him were going to get back into the helicopter, and then signaled the helicopter to come back. Five minutes later it was all over and they flew off down the mountain toward the hospital.

We packed up our gear and hiked down to the bottom, still in disbelief at the events that had occurred today. What a crazy adventure the first 200 miles of the PCT have been. Although I do like excitement, I hope that thi is the first and last time I have to be involved with search and rescue in any way on this trip.

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