Hole in the Wall – my last hike

Posted by | Filed under California | Apr 7, 2011 | Comments Off on Hole in the Wall – my last hike

Desert tortoise

I had two choices how to drive through the Mojave; either, via the Kelso Depot, the straight line south or a slight detour to the east to the Hole-in-the-Wall. I had the feeling I would regret not going to the Hole-in-the-Wall since I was already so close.

Barrel and prickly pear cacti

Off I went down the dirt road and through the mountains. The Hole-in-the-Wall didn’t look like much, a rugged mesa and a smallish canyon. There is a trail around the mesa, but I decided it would be more fun and more interesting to climb over the mesa and take a look from up above at the canyon. It was great fun to climb over volcanic rock; I even saw a desert tortoise.

Banshee Canyon and Gold Valley

I had finished my little “cross country” hike when I ran into an older couple at the base of the mesa. They had just finished the trail and told me about the “Rings trail” at the end of the trail. Said that I should check it out and since I do listen when people make these suggestions, I went.

Jicky atop the Banshee Canyon (before)

I would like to start this part by saying that I am OK, of cause otherwise I wouldn’t be writing.
I followed the signs to the trail and made my way down on my butt from one rock to another. Unfortunately, my left foot did not land properly on the rock below and I slipped. I only remember a sinking feeling in my head or stomach. The rock below was just two feet away, no distance really. I envisioned myself falling on my head, an image I still can’t get out of my head. Fortunately, I only cut my left shin in the center, just to the right of the bone. The cut went through to the bone, almost two inches long. I managed to climb back up the rock and made my way to the ranger station several hundred feet away. At the station Julia, who was just restocking books in the visitor’s center, administered first aid. After scrambling for some first aid supplies, she cleaned the wound and with me holding the gash together put some band aids over the cut to keep the gash closed. Being in the desert, you are far away from anything. Miriam, the volunteer at the station, called the EMTs, but it would take 30 to 45 minutes for them to arrive. These were not EMTs from a hospital, but park rangers with EMT training. When they arrived they took my vitals and re-cleaned and re-bandaged the wound. It was clear that I would need stitches. Unfortunately, neither of the rangers (Erin or John) could sew me up. The nearest hospital is in Needles, 60 + miles to the east and in the opposite direction I was headed. I wanted to drive myself. The pain was not that bad, I am not exaggerating, it really didn’t hurt that much. John very strongly advised against it and called an ambulance. It would take another hour for the ambulance to arrive. In the meantime I had to figure out how to get back from Needles to my truck. Erin and John said that there might be a possibility that they could get me in the morning, not sure though when. Even Julia offered to either get me herself or arrange to have someone get me. I packed an overnight bag.
When the ambulance with Coy, Steven and Jeannie arrived I was ready to roll. First, my wound was one more time cleaned and re-bandaged. It wasn’t bleeding much at all. Then Coy said that I had two options, one: they could take me to the hospital or two: I could drive myself. I was apprehensive to just jump at option two right away. How would I feel once I was driving? For me it would be almost a two hour drive. I had been on that stretch of I-40 just last summer and remembered the up hill climbs. Erin and John, the rangers, offered to follow me to the interstate. If I would not feel comfortable driving they would call the ambulance again. Once I released the ambulance they had to drive back to the hospital and could not follow me.
So I drove to Needles. I only had a minor emotional breakdown along the way. It was 5:30 PM by the time I arrived at the ER of the Colorado River Medical Center. Nobody was sitting in the waiting area, but an ambulance had just pulled in. There was a sign on the wall: Wait time can be between 10 minutes and 3 hours or longer. Well, my luck, my wait time was longer. By now the pain had increased and I was very uncomfortable sitting with my leg elevated. My thigh started to cramp. I was told a bed would be available in 15 minutes, that turned into 30 minutes and than into a total wait time of 3 ½ hours. At that point I was aggravated and in pain. The receptionist had no information, “I am just a clerk they don’t tell me anything”, her answer to my question why is it taking so long. Another ambulance had arrived, but she didn’t share that with me.
Finally, I was called into the ER. Nurse Phil took my vitals and explained to me what would happen next. The doctor would either glue or staple the wound. I would also need a tetanus shot.
When Dr. Kidd walked in he asked me how bad the pain was from a scale of 1 (none) to 10 (really bad). When John had asked that same question, the answer was 2 or 3, now it was more like 5 or 6. And it would only get worse. Dr. Kidd said he would staple the wound, but would not inject any Novocain to numb the area since it would hurt more to stick a needle into the wound than just to put the staples in. Hell, f…ing shit that hurt. Five staples right into the shin, don’t try that at home. I don’t remember having been in so much pain before (in recent memory). Now the pain level had reached 8.
Next the tetanus shot. Before they can administer the shot they had to give me a bunch of papers to read and sign. Who’s idea was that, who can read and comprehend anything when you are in pain. The shot itself was not bad at all, but the after effect has been bad. For five days now has my upper left arm been hurting, can’t lie on it, can’t lift or move it without feeling pain (level 4). At 10 PM I was finally done and could go to my home. I was very happy that I didn’t have to stay in a motel. I parked over night in the hospital parking lot. I don’t take pain medication or any kind of medication for that matter. Since I was feeling so much pain in the leg I asked for two percocets which should be enough to get me through the rough time. The doctor also gave me a sleeping pill for a good nights rest. Well, not knowing what any of that stuff would do to me, I took ¼ pill of the percocet and no sleeping pill. Since I hadn’t had much food since breakfast, I made a big bowl of pasta with pesto sauce before going to sleep. I did manage to sleep and I left the parking lot the next morning before 10 AM heading to Palm Springs.
I haven’t been able to put much wait on the left leg. Moving around even in my small home is exhausting; there is a step into the bathroom and a step onto the bed. I am now sleeping fine and the pain in the leg has gone down a lot, at least at night. As soon as the leg moves from elevated to the walking position the skin just tightens and it hurts. I have taken of the bandage the hospital put on and so far the wound looks good, no infection. By April 10 the staples come out. How you ask, well nurse Phil gave me special pliers so that I can pull them out myself. Oh, how I am looking forward to that. I’ll save every darn staple as a souvenir from Southern California.
Thank you to all who helped me to get back on the road!
All this happened one week ago. I had to delay the post since I didn’t want my parents to read about it before I could talk to them.
A photo of the already stapled cut is only available by request. 🙂

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