Little Crater Lake, an Unusual Overnight (Day 2)

Day 2: Timothy Lake to Frog Lake via forest roads and rt. 26 | Approx. 10-12 miles | 5 hrs.

Despite the comforts of two sleeping pads and a warm, cozy down bag I didn’t sleep all that well and half-heartedly rolled out of bed at 8am. The air was below freezing and my boots were solid as a rock. I put all my layers on, retrieved my food sack and started boiling water for a hot beverage. One bonus to camping in or near snow is the plentiful supply of water. I filled up my Nalgene with boiling water last night and had a nice foot warmer for sleeping as well as cooking water for the morning.

I again attempted, unsuccessfully, to get a wood fire going so I sucked it up and crammed my feet into my frozen, uncomfortable boots. I had chemical toe-warmers to stick to my socks which warmed up my feet rather quickly. All that was left was packing up to hit the trail again.

I had most of my gear crammed into my pack and took out my knife to cut apart the sad excuse for snowshoes I tried to make last night. I was almost finished when my knife slipped and I sliced into my left middle finger, deep enough to make me very concerned.

It was bleeding profusely so I quickly patched it up with the one gauze pad I had and some medical tape. 5 minutes later it had nearly bled through so I took a bandana, folded it and wrapped it up tightly, applying pressure and elevating my hand above my heart. Great. My heart was racing and I was making myself nervous thinking how far I had to travel to get out of the woods. I was definitely committed to the forest roads–a foolproof route–now that I had an injury, and I hoped that when I reached rt. 26 (a major road) I could hitch a ride to my car.No big deal, I told myself, it’s a finger, not a severed leg, I’ll be fine. Besides, if I’m nervous, and stressed, I’ll just hurt myself more.

The chilly night had created a solid crust on the snow which made travel much easier than the previous afternoon. Before long I reached Little Crater Lake again, de-layered on the sunny boardwalk, and tended my wounded, claw-hand. I removed the toe-warmers from my now hot feet and slipped them in between the outer wraps of the bandana. I hoped they would help dry out the sopping wet fabric and warm up my cold hand. The toe-warmers were also stiff enough to act as a splint. Nice! I then hiked through the campground to FR 58. Once safely on the broad, snowy road I was able to relax and laugh a little at my ridiculous situation (seems this happens to me often–these ridiculous situations). I moved as quickly as I could without getting overtired or overheated. It was a beautiful day, at least, warm and inviting, it was too bad I was stuck trekking along the roads instead of some gorgeous trail.

It took about 3 hours to reach the main road, including a brief stop for lunch. I did get one view of Mt. Hood along the way, as well as a red-tailed hawk sighting. I wasn’t too keen on taking pictures today, which was fine because there wasn’t much to see.Once on rt. 26 I figured I’d get a ride from a fellow hiker or outdoorsperson. There was sure to be plenty of those about in these parts. I’d never hitched a ride before, I was almost excited to be doing it for the first time.

However it was made apparent to me that I would have no such luck today and after about an hour, my arm was tired and I was stressing myself out getting disappointed as car after car passed by. I was beeped at my a few people that I have some choice words for, which did nothing but make me more agitated and frustrated. So, committed to completing the travel to my car on foot, I focused on just putting one foot in front of the other and cruising along at max speed.

That wasn’t too fast because I was tired, hot and thirsty. I never manage to hydrate myself well, and in hindsight I wish I would have made a better effort.

By 2:30pm I had reached my car, threw my gear in the back and hit the road. The first hospital I came across was in Gresham, an hour’s drive away. After answering a bewildering array of questions, I was quickly seen by a nurse to assess the seriousness of my situation–would I be on the slow track or fast track? All was well, I was in no pain, and the nurse seemed impressed by my perserverence and first aid. But, then she removed the bandages to look at the wound. “Yeah, you’re definitely on the fast track…”

I then remember everything being sideways and the nurse’s face was right in mine. “You’re okay, you’re okay…” She kept repeating. What the?? Passing out at the sight of blood was normally not my game, but apparently the situation got the best of me today. Two women helped me up into a wheelchair, where I felt consumed by dizziness and nausea. Within minutes I was out again. This was all too much. I cut my finger, that’s all!

Yikes. Now a whole roomful of people lifted me out of the chair and onto a hospital bed. They lowered the head of the bed so my legs were elevated, and put tubes in my nose (comfort oxygen, she said). It was all so bizarre. I closed my eyes and tried to relax. I hoped this would be my first and last visit to the emergency room.

A few hours and a few stitches later, I was on my way home. I’d nearly severed a tendon, so I’ve got surgery in the very near future. What an experience. I guess anything can happen. I’ve lived a life free of any major injury, and perhaps my luck is catching up on me. Lessons learned? Always be cautious with a knife. Yeah, duh. I knew that. But sometimes we slip into thinking we’re invincible. I’m too smart to make those mistakes, right? Nah, even the best and most experienced fall victim to dumb things. That’s what the first aid kit and emergency gear is for. It may only come into use once or twice a year, but man, when you need it–you’re glad you endured the extra weight on all those trips.

I’ll be adding additional gauze pads and tape to my kit :).

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