Recently I took a break from life; taking time for myself by unplugging. It is something I need to do periodically to remain healthy on a spiritual level. Doing this simple process has helped me find a balance I had been lacking. It has brought me back to a level of peace and comfort where I do not feel stressed or obligated to continue writing, working, or striving toward that which is higher.
I have been busy since last we talked. I went on a three week trip and visited Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National park, and Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a really awesome road trip because I got to meet up with people I know and love along the way and send some quality time with them. Come along with me as I give a little more detail. 😉 ❤
I left for Glacier National Park from Santa Cruz, CA. on June 23rd. I had anticipated leaving earlier than this, but my employer asked if I could stay a little longer and do some more work. I agreed because he’s an honest, kind, loving man who has only given me opportunity, friendship, and equitable relations. I guess you could say he is reaping what he sows. Anyway, when I left I drove in a marathon style, not my favorite form of travel, because I had to meet my brother in Glacier and pick up our backcountry permit on the 25th of June. We would be backpacking East to West across the park on a five day journey. The drive up was long, but otherwise uneventful. I was fortunate enough to catch a good shot of a rainbow in the Centennial Mountains of Idaho on my way up. When I got to Glacier I met my brother at Apgar Campground and we hung out until the next morning when We got our permit. The permit process was rather quick, but they did warn us about a couple stream fords and some snow hazards that were proving to be problematic to many hikes. In fact, so problematic that many turned around and didn’t proceed. Both Andrew and I being experienced backpackers knew the risks and felt confident in our abilities and decision making so we didn’t think to much of the warning. Now, with our permit in hand we made our way to the trailhead at the Northeast corner of the park. We would be scooting the Canadian border the duration of this trip. We hit the trailhead shortly after one pm and started our 13 Mile jaunt to our first campsite. The views, wildlife, and fauna are some of the best I have seen in all my years. The trek ended up being a little more difficult than I had anticipated and I realized I needed to shed some weight. My pack felt like a million pounds and I was obviously carrying to much food. This is something I tend to do without realizing. I’ve been hungry before and never want to feel that way again. Regardless of the weight we made it to our first camp by 7pm. It was a beautiful site set back in pines and aspens next to a sky blue lake. The scenery was beautiful, but the wind was not. It was blowing at around 15 mph and gusting, at times, around 25. This created a bit of a problem setting up my tent, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. That night the wind settled into a nice lullaby and I was able to sleep fairly well. All in all day one was very uneventful. Day two was a little different though.
After getting an early rise, around 5:30 am, we made breakfast and decided to hit the trail early. We had a 14 mile day and we would be summiting Stoney Indian Pass. We wanted to get over the pass before afternoon thunderstorms had a chance to form. This would minimize the potential for swollen streams and slippery snow. It was a good choice too as the fords were already high from the snow melt. The first fiord we came to was thigh high and rushing with a force that threatens to drag you down with every footfall. It was the most aggressive crossing I have ever made. Once on the other side of the first ford the trail vanished into a valley covered in snow and glacier lilies. Beautiful yes, but difficult to navigate. We soon came to a second ford and traversed it without problem. We decided to rest here, fill our water, and grab a snack. The landscape was just too irresistible. After our brief rest we continued on the the pass, arriving around noon. My first impression when standing in the saddle was one of amazement, joy, and fear. The west side of the pass was completely covered in snow for the first 1000ft and the angle was was pushing my abilities and gear limits. Despite the the horrific looking snow field we both felt confident we had the appropriate gear and know how to navigate the terrain. With this we put on spike on and made our way down. The spikes were a huge help as they allow you to dig into the snow and ice for traction and since the snow was starting to get suncups it was becoming slippery. All went well until we were about half way down the snow field. The intense angle and pressure I had been putting on my spikes caused the one on my right shoe to break under stress. As soon as it gave my foot when out from under me and I tumbled a few feet before self-arresting. I’m not sure if I was more scared or excited. It was the first time I have had to self-arrest and I hope the last. My brother came over and we both looked at my broken spike trying to formulate or engineer a fix, but it couldn’t be done. I would just take it slow and make my way down. For the next hour and a half I gingerly made my way down the slope of the mountain arriving at the lake marking the end of the snow field. The trail was flooded over and he only way through was a walk through the water and onto the last remaining 50 ft section of snow. This last section of snow ran 50 ft long by 100 ft tall. On the upper portion was a shale field, and below was the lake. The snow reached out passed the bank and fell into the water about 20 feet away from shore. I looked at it and thought I don’t want to go high because of the shale and I don’t want to go low because if I fell I would be in the water. I decided to go strait and take my chances. It was a calculated risk with one spike. My brother went first and I followed behind. About halfway across I felt my right foot go on an icy patch of the snow. As I fell my knee punched through the snow and I felt something enter immediately. There was no pain, but i knew it wasn’t good. Within seconds I had my pack off, pant leg off, and was pinching shut a gnarly gash that was roughly 4 inches in length and deep enough that I could see things I shouldn’t. I advised my brother I had some suture strips in my pack but that was all (he only had a couple bandaids). He got them out and we used all 8 of them to help close the wound. We then used his two bandaids and a makeshift wrap to stop the bleeding. Surprisingly I remained calm and had my wits the whole time. When we got it all bandaged my brother looked at me with concern and said, “you can’t bend your leg, it’ll open instantly, we are ten miles from the nearest ranger station, and even further from civilization. What are our options?”. I replied, “Singular, I will walk straight legged to the ranger station, get this would cleaned out, and then, depending on what we find, either continue or take a ride out via the bird”. My brother, being a former paramedic and current animal nurse pondered on it for a moment and then agreed. He took some of my gear and put it in his pack to make my walk a little more easy and then we got on our way. We had already hiked 7 miles and I wasn’t looking forward to another 10, but it had to be done. The walk was slow going, but we made to the ranger station by 8pm. Once there the ranger summoned the backcountry medic who turned out to be a laughable representation of a medic.
The medic looked at my wound and her eyes flashed with uncertainty. At this moment I was thankful I had my brother with me. Her movements were choppy and clumsy and her questions and understanding seemed to only correlate with incompetence. My own experience as an EMT let me know my observations were accurate. After she tried to wash my wound out with eye wash, she failed to check my dexterity and range of motion. This didn’t go unnoticed by me or my brother, but we both held our tongues. Next she attempted to take my blood pressure which she read inaccurately. To add insult to injury she couldn’t figure out how the blood pressure cuff went on. Good thing she only calls for the bird to take people out and doesn’t have to give any form of medical care. At this point Andrew and I both questioned her reading as it was indicative of a stroke victim. She said Andrew could check it and he gave a much more accurate reading and then showed her how to use it. He also showed her a few test to check my range of motion and dexterity, how to check for a pedial pulse, and what to look for in the wound. She seemed eager enough to learn, but that didn’t fill me with the most confidence. After Andrew and her bandaged my knee he and I were at an agreement. My hike was over. After a brief discussion the ranger said we could catch a ride across the lake, into Canada, with a ranger and then hitch back to the states where I could get medical treatment. This sounded great, but I had no form of identification on me. Oh well, guess we will see what comes of it. That night Andrew and I made camp on the ranger station lawn and waited for the boat to come the next morning.
It was around 11am when the boat arrived to pick up my brother and I. He had decided he didn’t want to continue on without me and opted to leave. The ranger that would be giving us a ride to Canada was in his mid 40’s and rather friendly. As he took us across he received a call to check on a hurt hiker near the border where Andrew and I would be crossing. He notified dispatch that he would check it out and he would be taking a medical to the border as well. This was a reward as we didn’t have to hitch back to the States. After the 30 minute boat ride into Canada the ranger unloaded the boat and we got into his truck. I must confess it was a little unnerving to sit by someone who had a semiautomatic weapon so close and easy to access. As we drove toward the states he called the canadian border patrol to find out who was working. He wanted to know if this was going to be an easy transfer or if there was going to be problems. When he finished his conversation with border patrol he looked at me and said, “our nemesis is on duty today. She’s probably going to make things difficult, but don’t worry”. Then he smiled and we returned to our casual conversation. It took about 20 more minutes to reach customs where he and my brother both showed their passports and were welcomed. I on the other hand had no identification which seemed to upset the Canadian officer. She was rather upset that I was in Canada and that a ranger brought me in without paperwork. He explained over and over that I was a medical and the guy with me was claiming to be my twin. We are rather Identical and I know she could see the resemblance, but she protested and shouted. After roughly 20 minutes she relented and gave a piece of paper to the ranger and mumbled “they’re just going to send him back here because he has no paperwork and he’ll be my problem again”. I smiled at her and said thank you and hobbled back to the truck as quick as my leg would allow. We then went to the American side, 100 feet away, and the ranger said the same thing to the American patrol as he did the Canadian. The officer in the booth looked at me, then my brother, then me again, and said, “have a nice day and get that knee taken care of”. 🙂 And this is how I was an illegal alien for around an hour and a half. 🙂
Once back in the states my brother and I caught a hitch from the border back to West Glacier. A couple 19yr old college students were on a road trip and decided to pick us up. When they heard my story they offered to drive three hours in the opposite direction they needed to go to make sure I returned safe and got medical attention. The three hour van ride with them was enjoyable and time went rather quick. Once back in West Glacier I set up camp in the hike/bike campground and waited until the morning to go to the Clinic. I walked the 2 miles to the clinic where a wonderful Dr. treated me with the most equitable medical treatment I have ever received. He flushed me wound and removed the debris of rock, cut the dead skin, gave me a tetanus shot, a shot to numb the area, and then stitched me up. I took 4 internal stitches to sew the inside back together and 5 stitches on the external portion to close the wound for a total of 9 stitches. Then the nurse gave me a ride back to the campground so I wouldn’t have to walk. I also had a follow up the next day to make sure things were going well. It ended up costing under $400. This was very affordable considering I don’t have insurance. I spent the next week just hanging out with my brother and doing some fishing. We both made the best of the situation and enjoyed ourselves. When it was time for him to go I took him back to the airport and headed to Yellowstone. I would be meeting a friend from Ohio there and spending a couple days with him and his kids.
It took a day and a half to drive to Yellowstone and I found myself missing Montana the further away I drove. Something in my heart yearns to go back. I entered Yellowstone from the west side of the park and did the car tour for the first half of the day. I checked out some of the sights and took in the scenery. It was nice, but it looked like it was all dying; probably because it’s the crater of a giant active volcano. The colors were mostly browns, reds, and a dull green that was close to burnt. I also saw my first “up close” buffalo. I’ve seen them in the wild of North Dakota from about 100 yards, but this one was about 10 yards. WOW, take away that 90 yards and that animal just went from large to a monstrosity. They aren’t the cutest animal for sure. I watched a couple geysers erupt and thought, “ah, I’ve seen better”. Once I reached the South East corner of the park I met my friend Clayton and his two children, Eli and Addison. I stayed at their campside the next two days and enjoyed their company. I also checked out morning glory. It was the one pool I wanted to see while I was at the park. That night Clayton and I took our cameras out behind the lodge and practiced our astrophotography. He has a really nice DSLR that made my little cybershot look unimpressive; nonetheless, I captured some good shots and enjoyed the lesson of learning by doing. Clayton gave some advice and we both worked together to figure out a couple settings that seemed to work. After hanging out for a couple days he and the children were moving to the West part of the park and I was heading East. I have some friends in Denver that I was going to see, but before that I wanted to visit the Uinta Mountains. I’ve been once before and enjoyed it so much I had to go back.
It took a couple days and a flat tire on a lonesome, backcountry dirt road to get there, but I made it. I have a trail map of the mountain range which I used to pick a nice, secluded backcountry spot that I could drive to. I’m glad I chose to come here as the weather was beautiful and the temperatures were mild and pleasant. I camped in a valley surrounded by mountain peaks covered in snow. There was a stream winding its way gently through the alpine valley with patches of grassy field and wooded retreats. I did some fishing and enjoyed the peaceful serenity that is nature. I ended up spending three days here. I would have stayed longer, but I needed to get back on the road if I was going to make it to Denver to see my friends Thomas and Jonathan.
Leaving the Uintas was bittersweet as I found a peace I seldom find; nonetheless, I bid the majestic range a farewell and started my drive to Denver. It took me one night and two days to get there. I spent single night around Kenosha Pass. This is a pass I really enjoy, especially around fall when the mountain sides are brushed in hues of yellow and orange. I entered Denver from the Southwest as it was the most direct route to Jonathan and his family and instantly remembered why I left Denver. TRAFFIC! Wow, this is as bad a California. Fortunately I was able to navigate the streets well as my mind flooded with memories of a past not yet forgotten. When I pulled into the apartment complex Jonathan, his wife, and son reside I felt excited and eager. I have few friends across this land, but the ones I do have and get to see, even if only seldom, revive my soul like the the spring sun on a blooming flower. I ran up the stairs two at a time arriving at 403A breathing a little heavy. I lifted my hand to knock and the door opened. In a flash I was embraced by a man weighing around 270 pounds and standing 6’2” tall. I smiled, laughed, and cried simultaneously as I felt a warmth of love that is the gift of honest, transparent friendship. For the next 6 hours we talked, laughed, and caught up on life events from the past year. In no time at all the hour was late and I was bidding my farewell. I left that night and headed to North Denver where I would meet Thomas at his new home in NorthGlenn. That night I spent the night in a king soopers parking lot. Places to stay in the city are less than pleasant on the eye.
I arrived in NorthGlenn around 10 am thanks to traffic, and easily found the house of Thomas. Once again I felt the same emotions that I felt the previous day when visiting Jonathan. This time I was afforded the opportunity to knock. When the door opened I was greeted with a smile that could light the darkest of nights and embraced in a hug that would warm a polar bear. I spent the next few hours catching up, going to lunch at Chipotle, and having some ice cream at the ColdStone. At around 2-3pm I wished Thomas a farewell and set off back towards California feeling a little guilty. Thomas works nights, 7pm-7am, as an RN and was in the middle of his four day work week.
The drive back to Santa Cruz was less than eventful and I found myself staying in the national forest along the way. The last place I stopped was in Tahoe National Forest. I followed a road that went from pavement, to gravel, to streams and boulders. I passed nothing but ATV’s and OHV’s the entire time, but made it to the campground on the other side. This was a 36 mile drive I took to cut of 50 miles of driving on the interstate. The navigation said it would be faster, but because of the conditions it was twice as long. I am still awestruck that I made it through. It was on of the most tension filled drives I have made. It was a good things I started the drive early in the morning because I didn’t make it to the camp until around 2pm. After fixing some lunch I decided to take the 2 mile walk to the top of a ridge and check out the fire tower. In California every fire tower is manned during the fire season. It was a quick walk up to a spectacular view. I met the FS employee in charge, John, and we talked until the sun was fading. It turns out we both enjoy photography so we exchanged a lot of knowledge on astrophotography and took many pictures. When I left he wished me well and said if I was ever in the area again to just drive up and camp next to the tower. It’s always a treat to meet people and have the enjoyment shared. That night I slept well
Early the next morning I arose and started my drive to Santa Cruz. I wanted to beat the traffic. The drive was slow and eventless. Once in Santa Cruz I started back to work for until about a week ago. I did this so I could purchase an RV. I spent more than I wanted on it, but it was one of the few in my price range. I packed the RV with all my valuables, sold my car, and started to make my way East as I am going to visit my grandparents. There time is dwindling and I want to make sure I take advantage of my opportunities to enjoy them. Wth that I set out towards ohio.
Everything went well until around Elko Nevada when my abs light came on. Glad it was here, because the closed town to it is over a hundred miles in any direction. The mechanics got me in the next day and replaced the rear wheel cylinders on the brakes. It appears they went out and had I driven further I would have lost the brakes. Good thing I stopped. Unfortunately after they fixed the brakes it refused to start. They spent until 7pm fixing that problem. I was grateful they stayed over passed close to help get me back on the road, but the 800 dollar bill hurts. Turns out a wire that provides a constant 12v current to the inertia switch, I have no idea what that means, was bad so they had to bypass it. I spent the night in the local Walmart and figured I would get an early jump on the drive the next morning.
When I left elko the sun was just coming up the sky was shades of pink and lavender swirl. I drove all morning and made it to the east side of Salt Lake City before my beautiful RV decided to quit. It died at the 80E 215S interchange. I called a tow and waited the 2 hours it took for him to arrive. Cody, the tow driver, was super friendly and asked if he could look some things over before he towed me. I gave him the go ahead and was under the hood and the car in minutes. Shortly after peeking out of the hood he asked if he could see the keys. I handed them over he he started it up on the first turn. According to him it looks like it overheated. He offered to let me follow him to a local shop and didn’t charge me a dime. I was tickled. After talking to the shop owner he noticed my temperature gauge was bad, and offered to check the rest of it over on Tuesday. They were about to close and he wasn’t wanting to work his weekend. Here in Salt Lake they take Sundays and Mondays off and since I showed up on a Saturday I have to wait. No worries as he said I could leave my RV at the shop and just stay in it, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Tomorrow I will find out what’s wrong with it and go from there.
“Try to fall in love every time you say hi” ~Patrick: Humanity Matters Reborn: Episode 9~