NOTE: Open post and then Single Click On first Post Photo to view an album in a more detailed, larger format...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Crash and Bleed in Capitol Reef

"I was accustomed to being in far, far riskier environments. So I thought going into that canyon was a walk in the park - there were no avalanches, it was a beautiful day, and I was essentially just walking."  Aron Ralston

On a day forecasting WIND, we sought shelter and solace in Spring Canyon's gullet. It's one of those places that makes me feel small, and reminds me of human insignificance. Though we've hiked Spring Canyon several times, I never tire of the experience.

Bobbie suggested we explore side canyons this time. We hung a left at the first opportunity, and followed our noses.

As the canyon spur narrowed, we were forced to scramble under-over-around humungous boulders that had previously molted from overhead rims. I'm talking house size hunks of rock. It begged the proverbial question: If a boulder calves in a canyon and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Alas, objects of sense exist only when they are perceived. Thus, sound requires an "ear." I digress...

We pushed on to canyon's end...a "pour off," without a pool in which to land. Still, a worthy exploration as it was absent of people, a rarity in National Parks these days.

Upon reaching the main corridor, we endeavored down-canyon to the next spur and hung a left. But this was no "spur." This, we found out later, put us into the upper reaches of Spring Canyon...a massive drainage with a trickle of water flowing. Following Big Horn Sheep tracks, we tiptoed upstream...hoping to catch a glimpse of one or more of these elusive beasts. I could almost feel them, staring down from some inaccessible perch, heads cocked with curiosity.

Bobbie wondered if this canyon might "lead out" (provide an exit) at some point. Me? I just wondered what was around the next bend. It was glorious. Cottonwoods were blinding with radiance; "burning bushes," yellow beyond belief.

On we trudged, through deep sand that seeming multiplied Newton's Law. Yet we were reluctant to turn around. It's difficult when exploring a magical place you've never been, a watercolor wash of salmon pink cliffs, cerulean blue sky, and cottonwoods...with leaves the color of ripe lemons.

But someone had to "blink." Well over half depleted of water, food, and energy, if we wanted to make it out of here alive, this might be a good time to turn around. 

Our legs were weary and dragging as we approached the main corridor. Ah, only three more miles to the car. That's when I heard a "thud," like someone dropped a large, overstuffed duffle bag. It was followed by a weak moan. 
I whirled around.

There was Bobbie, laid out flat, her face planted on a pile of rocks. Bobbie!

She wasn't moving. I heard a low moan, barely audible. I asked if she was ok...a dumb question, in retrospect. Afraid to move her, I knelt down where I could see her face...still planted on rocks, a pool of blood forming in dry, thirsty sand. God.

You know how it is. You're leaning forward, trying to slog through sand on tired legs. Suddenly, a toe doesn't quite clear a little embedded stone and your boot locks onto it like a long lost love. Bam! 

Bobbie finally struggled onto knees and elbows, dazed. I tried to access the damage. Under a layer of gritty sand was a split lower lip, already swelling, and blood gushing freely from both nostrils. 

I dug a wad of paper towels out of my pack (emergency toilet paper, but clean), soaked them in water from my hydro-pack and dabbed away the grime. It didn't take a minute for the paper towels to be sopping wet with blood.

Rummaging through my pack, I pulled out a clean pair of white athletic socks and soaked them with the last of my water. I gently applied it as a cold compress across her nose in hopes to stop the bleeding. I asked her to feel for chipped and/or missing teeth with her tongue. Unbelievably, all were intact. It seems her nose and lips took the brunt of the fall. There would have to be a rock, right where her face planted

After about 10 minutes, Bobbie could stand and her nose stopped bleeding. It looked really bad, and we still had 3 miles to go. With assurances that she was ok, we resumed our hike out. 

That night Bobbie's upper lip turned purple and her lower lip swelled to about 5 times it's normal size. After she trimmed off bits of loose lip skin, applied antibiotic cream, she announced that stitches wouldn't be necessary. 

Brother. Maybe time to think about a "Spot" emergency beacon. 

Shield the canyons from the windstorms (and) you would never see the true beauty of their carvings. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


  1. Always the worst. Injuries when alone or nearly alone mikes from anywhere. I only had a,SPOT for the last 4 years that I worked alone in the mountains. So glad it was ok, but poor Bobbie. Awful.

  2. However diligent one is there is always a stone or branch waiting to throw one off balance. Wish you well Bobbie and I had better go and replace my emergency paper towel incase it becomes a necessity.

  3. We've walked up that particular canyon...it is stunning with all the trees.

    What a freaking bummer Bobbie! Glad you made it out okay and don't need stitches...but it must have been harrowing for a while. I'm sure the walk out was not too much fun.

  4. Oh, my face hurt just reading about this. Take good care of Bobbie and hope all feels much better soon. Be careful, you guys!

  5. I hope Bobbie has a speedy recovery. I have also been thinking an emergency beacon would be smart to have.

  6. Loved the tour, as usual. And, a "Spot" does bring a sense of freedom for an old far like me. I don't hike alone without it.

  7. Oh crap! That sounds like a pretty bad fall and uncomfortable recovery!

    I took a pretty good fall recently (In Little Grand Canyon Illinois of all places.) and it was no fun! No damn fun at all!

    The fact that circumstances dictate that I hike alone (Wife doesn't do nature and I'm told I'm just too ornery to have friends.) made it all the more scary and I stepped back (Metaphorically because to do so literally is how I fell in the first place!) for a few moments and rethought this whole remote wilderness thing. But what the hell, I'd rather die on the trail than be slowly HMO'ed to death with a tube stuck down my throat taking those final antiseptic breaths for me. Besides, hiking sure beats sitting in the Barcalounger behind closed curtains eating M&M's straight from the family-sized bag while watching Andy Griffith reruns!

    At least that's my stance until next time I bleed in the dirt.

  8. Ouch! Give Bobbie my sympathy and hope she is feeling OK. Yes for all the remote hiking you do, it may be time to get an emergency SPOT service. I like the picture of Bobbie navigating the narrow colorful walls before her fall.

  9. We are disappointed that you didn't take a picture of Bobbie after you knew she was going to be okay. You know, just for laughs looking back on it one day!
    I am going to start carrying an extra pair of socks from now on ;-)

  10. Oh, boy! Poor Bobbie! I've done the full body slam but never with my face on a rock. Thank goodness she was able to hike out and didn't need stitches or lose any teeth. We are pretty tough out there on the trail. Hope Bobbie recovers quickly. Spring Canyon is an amazing place! It's one of those places where ever turn has something new. It's tough to turn around. Keep us posted on Bobbie's condition, please.

  11. So glad she wasn't injured more severely. Severely enough! Glad she is okay. As usual, beautiful written; felt like I was walking along with you two.

  12. I'm not as adventurous as you two, but I carry a SPOT unit (annual subscription about $144). Have had that unit for about 10 yrs now, using it mostly for the "OK" feature which sends a google map of my precise location to select friends via email. Like all insurance plans, you never know when you'll need it.

  13. That Spot seems a good thing as having an accident is bad enough but being in a remote area is another thing. Hope Bobbie mends soon.

  14. Oh NOOOOOO!!! That hurts me just to read that. Poor Bobbie! You guys are carrying that "It's not a hike till Bobbie bleeds!" mantra a little too far. ;-) I trust she is well on the mend...

  15. With a title like"Crash & Bleed in Capital Reef", had to think twice if I was going to open this blog post,:) this was not how we wanted the fresh new Fall & Winter hiking adventures to begin with you both, especially after the great summer u had. Thank God it wasn't worse. I bet Bobbie is already up for the next adventure though, probably planning it now. Maybe next time out you better carry a first aid kit. Bobbie I hope the big guy is going to take you out to a nice dinner soon
    From Sonoma Co with Love

  16. Title had me worried. I quickly skimmed to make sure everything turned out OK. Poor Bobbie, few things worse than a face plant. Well broken bones. Hope she didn’t break her nose. Deviated septums have lasting problems. Hope you got some ‘not for public consumption’ pictures to look at a year from now when it’s sort of funny. Well now that I've gone back and read the post - Beautiful pictures of a great hike. Feeling small and insignificant is easy to do around canyons and big trees. Slot canyons – Oh YES! All canyons - Love the pictures. Difficulty turning around and wanting to see what’s around the next bend are situations I know well. As is the feeling that you’ve turned around a bit late for being able to pick up your feet. Hope you are feeling better Bobbie. Don’t look in the mirror for a while.

  17. Ouch. In addition to being painful, smashing your face is usually very disorienting. Kudos to Bobbie for hiking out.

    Emergency beacons are never a bad idea. The only time I've pushed 911 was on Highway 120 in Yosemite National Park. A motorcycle driver rear-ended my friend Keith while we were bicycling on the shoulder, and Keith was completely immobilized (broken back, from which he recovered, although at the time his injures seemed more dire.) There was no cell reception on my phone or the phone of anyone who stopped, so I hit the panic button. Even though we were on a highway, it would have taken much longer to signal an ambulance without it. So you really never know when you'll need it.

    1. I can imagine my call: "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up..." :(.
      I think the time has finally arrived for an onboard GPS and SPOT (sigh).

    2. We have a Spot. Never had to use it. But since buying it, we've found there are others that might be better, for whatever that is worth. Glad Bobbie is on the mend. Even though she's tough, "tough" can't help much with a rock - embedded face plant. OUCH!!!

  18. I have done that twice. The last time at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. People kept asking if I knew I was bleeding......duh! After hiking many miles you forget to pick up your feet. I do hope she heals quickly.

  19. If you are serious about a signalling device, I hope you (or any of your followers) will consider Delorme (now Garmin) InReach over SPOT. The InReach allows TWO way communication, not just a "pre-planned" SOS signal. You can link it to your smartphone via bluetooth, thereby allowing you to dictate messages via Siri or smartphone keyboard via your contact list. And you can receive updates, answers, additional info back from loved ones. For example, "I am stuck in the worst lightning storm of my life, and I can't remember where to hide." Sometimes, they might even answer back. ;-)

    I use mine all the time when I don't have a cell signal. I will check on Mom and let family know where I am for the night. Once without a cell, I wasn't going to make it to a nonrefundable night in a campground. I sent Don a message and asked him to cancel it for me. You don't have that kind of flexibility with a SPOT. Yes, the functionality costs a bit more (50 cents per message after your first 10 per mo.) but I think it's worth it.

  20. What a story. I'm glad that Bobbie is alright. We have Delormes that serve to save us if hurt or lost in the wilderness and also allow our families to communicate with us when we're camped outside of cell service territory. Worth every penny.

    Keep on adventuring!

  21. I'm glad Bobbie is okay! The problem with adventure, everything is going great right up until the second it isn't. Happy Hiking and Cycling this winter!

  22. Ditto on the socks. Sounds like something handy to have along for emergencies.


If you like reading blog posts...from any blogger...consider leaving a "tip" in the form of a "comment" to the author, lest the blog might disappear from perceived lack of interest.