Tuesday, November 20, 2012

John Muir Trail - Day 13

August 21, 2012 –mystery lake on Bishop Pass - Bishop
Mileage:  9.5

All night long lightening flickered across the sky.  About 1:00 am thunder started and by 3:00 am we had rain.  It stormed the rest of the night.  The rain let up at 6:30 am, so we began to plan our soggy exit.  Don had slept pretty well until the storms hit hard.  His hand was throbbing.  We needed to get going and get him to the hospital in Bishop today!  The trail gained 2000 feet in elevation in the next three miles, and then dropped 3000 feet in 6 miles to the trailhead, where we hoped to catch a ride the 21 miles down into Bishop.

We headed out in the cool, cloudy morning.  The pass was totally socked in with clouds.  We had no map for this trail and with the visibility difficulties, we were concerned about getting over the pass before storms hit again.  Sounds like time for VIA!  Found a rocky area with a beautiful view and brewed up some coffee.  As we sipped the cloud cover raised and we could see our destination.  Bishop Pass is just under 1200 feet and a very nice climb from the west side through areas of meadows and trees. 
Injured Don on Bishop Pass

We rested on the top and took in the towering peaks all around us.  Then we started down.  It was a totally different environment, tall mountains, rocky outcroppings and a steep drop.  The trail was etched into the rock with airy switchbacks.  We looked down on big blue lakes below, but had no idea what the names were.  We hoped the trail would be easier when we got down to lake level.  But, alas no, lots of rocks!  We continued down as the rocks around us turned from grey to red.  There were more trees, but the trail was still very rocky.  We asked people that we met if they were going out to Bishop that day but no luck. 

Although the scenery was gorgeous Don and I were worn down by the stress of the injury, exit and the rocky trail.  We were anxious about getting a ride!  We had been told that the dislocated finger had to be taken care of within 24 – 30 hours of injury.  Right near the bottom there was an older woman on the trail with a young woman walking slowly with her.  She was carefully hiking uphill.  We said hello as we passed.  Then I looked back and noticed they were heading down.  Don asked if they were heading into Bishop.  They said no, since they were staying at a resort near the trailhead.  Then, they asked why.  When he showed his hand and explained our situation, they said they were going to Bishop now!  Sarah was the mother and this was the first time she had ever hiked.  She was from Philadelphia.  She was truly thrilled to hear our story and to take care of us.  This brought tears for me!  I had not realized how tense I had been about getting Don to the hospital.  Emily, Sarah’s daughter, is an artist and architect from Los Angeles.  She drove us the 21 miles to the Bishop Hospital.  On the way we shared our stories all enjoying learning about very different individual lives.  When we got to Bishop they would have stayed with us at the hospital but we sent them on their way with one thousand thank yous! 

In Bishop we hiked into the hospital packs, hiking sticks and all.  We trudged down the hallways by nurse’s stations, doctors and patients on our way to the emergency room which turned out to be at the back.  When we arrived a nurse was with Don immediately, before we even registered.  Over the course of the next two hours he was x-rayed, doped up and reset.  It was a severe dislocation and Dr. Black stressed resting the finger.  There were other follow up procedures.  It was a relief that she was so firm about this.  It made our decision to end the hike a no decision at all.
We checked into the Tree Motel, an older traditional motel which was friendly, clean, and comfortable.  After delicious showers, we walked into town for a great Mexican meal at El Rancho, a little café.  Taking the long way back to the motel we strolled, winding down after an arduous day.  We were asleep by 8:30!

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