March 28, 2022
The view from the front stoop of our Casita was breathtaking. I crept downstairs and past Cricket’s bed to watch the sun slowly rise, and peek, through the heavily laden rain clouds.
Weather reports were calling for a rare desert storm today and tonight, and Cricket had discussed going into town to sit it out. I had declined. Weather is part of these hikes, and adversity is part of the experience. I had the gear I needed, and we should be fine if we stayed clear of the washes and rushing storm waters.
Cricket left about a half-hour before me, and I took time to finish all the gourmet snacks I had purchased for breakfast. I always eat a big meal out of town and a big meal when I arrive. This usually means I don’t have to carry breakfast, dinner, two lunches, four snacks, or 1.5 to 2 pounds of food.
I heard voices about two miles into my descent into the valley and just above the American Flag Trailhead. I had seen a car come down the dirt road but had not seen any people exit the vehicle, so I was pleasantly surprised to come through the brush and see Kiosk, Hat Trick, and Sweet Tea setting up their backpacks to begin hiking. They had stayed in Oracle last night.
We all grinned as we briefly reunited and exchanged trail intel. I may have seen them walking on the side of the road last night, but the car was moving so fast that I only saw a blur. They had their own crazy Oracle experiences, and we all agreed that drivers in this area were nuts. With so little traffic, speed and using one lane were overrated.
I told them I wanted to catch Cricket and took off as they set a more leisurely pace behind me, but I would see them on and off during the day as we all took breaks.
The long descent was fast as I pushed to catch up with Cricket, and I caught up at the Kannally Wash Windmill, where she immediately announced she would keep hiking. I thought that was wasted calories as I dropped my pack.
I sat down on a memorial bench to rest and eat. The old windmill did not work, but there was a nice picnic table up next to it. This was a great spot to camp or hang out, but I did not stay too long as the skies began darkening. I always pause or stop at memorials. They are here because people loved the locations, and I like to recognize them out of respect.
As I came out of the next climb, I saw Cricket in the distance and slowed to let her stay ahead. I would catch up at Tigermine Trailhead around lunchtime. This gave me a little time to take some photos and do a little off-trail exploring.
Tigermine was fairly busy, and I chatted with some day hikers as I crossed the parking lot to find Cricket chatting with some hikers heading SOBO. We all exchanged trail information and loaded up on water before heading our separate ways. I pulled in behind Cricket, and we chattered cheerfully as we headed down the trail.
I don’t know how I fell, but I was moving fast when my feet became tangled in my hiking poles. The next thing I knew, time slowed down enough for me to realize I was airborne and that my impact with the rocky ground would probably hurt.
I slammed down on my knee, and the pain seared through my leg leaving me speechless as I tried to catch my breath. Letting out a deep guttural groan, I slowly rolled over and lay there waiting to die. In the distance, I could hear Cricket frantically asking if I was ok as she scrambled back to my side. She had been ahead of me, but not so far that she did not hear me go crashing to the trail.
Slowly sitting up, I looked at the angry red wound on my leg and screamed @#$%^&**&^%$! Getting hurt on the trail was a pain in the ass, and I did not have a bandage large enough to cover the abrasion, so I slathered the wound in Neosporin and then taped my bandanna loosely over my knee so the cotton cloth would hopefully not stick too much as the blood dried.
Worse case, I was close to Tigermine Trailhead and could get a ride, I thought. Cricket stood near me as I slowly stood and tentatively put weight on my leg. My knee hurt like a bitch, but I could tell nothing was broken internally. As I led the way slowly down the trail, I thought I would have to deal with a bad abrasion and ensure the raw flesh did not get infected.
We moved slowly for the rest of the afternoon, and at one break, I rolled over and napped briefly. I’m not a napper, but my body was probably coming down from its adrenaline, destroyed knee rush. Cricket made sure she snapped a picture of me on the ground looking pathetic.
As it grew late and raindrops began to spatter us, we started looking for a place to camp. The wind made finding a good spot difficult in the desolate, barren desert, and eventually, we set up our tents on a sand bar down in a wash. This went against our better judgment with the potential for rain, but my knee hurt so much that I did not care.
Getting comfortable was tough. I did not want my knee to stick to my quilt, but it was too cold to let my leg stick out, so I rolled over on my side and lay there in disgust as I tried to stick just the front of my knee out from under my quilt. It was going to be a long night.
My quilt also kept coming loose. Cricket had gathered all of the large rocks for her tarptent and lay giggling in her tarptent as my tarp flapped, and I cursed at her for being rock selfish! At least she was not treating me or my knee any differently, which did actually make me feel a little better.