Sunday, July 8, 2018

Day 83 and 84- The One With The Emergency Room

Friday July 06, 2018
Indian Peaks TH(1341.6) to Monarch Lake TH(1349.1) 7.5 Miles
Total Miles: 1421.3 
Elevation: 8343 feet

Sorry for the delay in getting this post done. I just really needed a little break from all things related to this trail. I will be skipping some miles and heading directly to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I have a timeline to meet my parents in Wyoming and with this new injury I couldn’t hike the miles I needed to in the time allowed. Once I get to Canada I will come back and hike the miles I skipped. 

I woke up this morning and everything was soaking wet with frost and condensation. At first I thought it had rained during the night and I hadn’t noticed. My knee was extremely swollen. I didn’t remove my bandage to look at the cut. I thought it was best to leave it in place. I gingerly hiked out of camp. I had to hike over 22 miles to make it to the town of Grand Lake, Colorado. After only going a few miles I knew I couldn’t do 19 more miles that day. I rapidly changed my plans. I decided to hike the 7.5 miles to Monarch Lake Trailhead. From there I could hitch into town and see a doctor. Throughout the hike basically every hiker in a five mile radius passed me by. About five miles in Casper passed me. Her mom and boyfriend were meeting her at Monarch Lakes trailhead to pick her up. She said if they had room in their car, they could give me a ride into town. I told her I would see her at the trailhead. I kept me head down and watched every step carefully. I couldn’t afford another accident. Surprisingly I made pretty good time today. It only took me a little over three hours to get the miles done. The worst part was the downhill sections and there was a lot of those. 

View of James Peak from the forest 

Lots of downs like this 

Old mining equipment? 

Monarch Lake

When I finally made it to the trailhead I found Casper and her family. Her boyfriend was cooking omelets and potatoes. They were kind enough to share with me. After packing up the feast they rearranged everything in the car to make room for me. We stopped by their campsite to drop off a few things. While we were there I called a hostel in Grand Lakes to make a reservation. Luckily they still had a few private rooms left. I made a reservation for two nights. They dropped me off in the middle of town and went about their own business. I had hoped to find a doctor or emergency clinic in town, but there wasn’t one. I went into a coffee shop to inquire about a taxi, shuttle, or Uber to get into the neighboring town of Granby. The young girls working the counter had a nice laugh. Since I live in a small Colorado mountain town I should have known that there wouldn’t be any public transportation. The town of Grand Lake is a giant tourist trap, located just before the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. I explained about my injury and needing to get to a hospital. They were concerned and starting calling their friends to see if anyone had time to give me a ride. A customer overheard the conversation and offered to take me. This guy was taking a break from the park to get some work done and I don’t think he really had the time to help me, but did it anyway. It was over an hour round trip for him. Situations like this on the trail really restore my faith in humanity. 

Emergency Room in Granby, Colorado 

I walked into that hospital stinking worse than a hobo. I wish I could have gotten cleaned up before going in, but that wasn’t possible. The staff got me checked in and into a room right away. The nurse, Mary, was very kind. She was also extremely inquisitive about the trail. We talked nonstop about thruhiking. She got my bandage removed and agreed that it was a good thing that I came in. 

New trail experience 

My filthy leg 

I didn’t have to wait very long for the doctor to come in. He asked me a few questions about my accident and examined my wound. He agreed that I would need a few stitches, but I convinced him that that wouldn’t work for me. He decided that I could get by with some Durmabond(medical grade superglue). While I waited for a wound care specialist to clean me up I had to get x-rays taken. It is strange to be a patient and get x-rays done since I am a certified radiologic technologist. The rad tech did a great job and the films were perfectly taken. The wound care specialist, Victor, was very professional and got me cleaned up. I was glad that they numbed me up when he got out the tweezers and a scrub brush. Once he was satisfied that all of the dirt and debris was cleaned out the doctor came back in. He talked me through what was found on my x-rays. I had a potential problem with my meniscus on my lateral side, but with all of my years playing soccer I was not surprised. He warned that I should expect to have some significant arthritis in my later years. Also, not surprising info. The teeny tiny hairline fracture was surprising. Since it was in the middle of my kneecap there was nothing to be done. With the wound cleaned up the doctor got a better look. He really reconsidered using only glue. He thought it might be better to use a few stitches as well. After hemming and hawing for a minute, he decided to just stick with the glue. Before I was discharged the attending doctor came in to say hello and check on me. I asked her to listen to my chest. I’ve had a nagging cough for almost a month. I was pretty sure it was from the elevation, but since I was in a hospital I thought I should have it checked out. My lungs were clear and she agreed it was probably elevation or allergy related. Nurse Mary came to check on me and to discharge me. The staff gave me a bunch of medical supplies before I left. Mary also made sure that I was fed. The entire staff was absolutely amazing and it was an extremely positive experience. They made me feel like a rockstar for hiking the trail. Mary even called me a cab so I didn’t have to worry about hitchiking back to Grand Lake in the rain. The attending physician gave me an inhaler from the hospital pharmacy, so I wouldn’t have to walk a few blocks another pharmacy. Thanks to the entire staff at the Granby Medical Center for giving me such awesome patient care. You guys rock! 

Glued back together

I didn’t have to wait long for my cab to arrive, although I kind of wished I had just hitched back to Grand Lake. The cab cost me $60 and I shudder to think about how much the ER visit will cost me. This trail is getting expensive very quickly. I was able to check in to the hostel upon arriving. I was glad that I got a private room. For almost the entire trail I have shared rooms with other people. It was nice to have my privacy. I had to keep my dressing dry, so taking a shower was interesting. I ended up using a trash bag taped around my leg. Once I was clean I needed to get my laundry done. The only problem was that the laundromat was almost a mile away. I usually wouldn’t have minded walking that far, but today was different. I almost decided to put it off until tomorrow, but the doctor said walking a little bit would help reduce the swelling around my knee. I’m not sure that he meant for me to walk so much, but I really wanted some clean clothes. I made it down to the laundromat without any problems. While I waited for my clothes I was able to talk to my best friend, Alie. It was only the second time we have talked since I started the trail and it was great to catch up. Later in the night her and her husband, Kyle surprised me by sending me money for dinner. Thanks guys! I love you and miss you. 

Clouds and Ripple stopped by the laundromat to invite me to a pub for drinks. Once my clothes were dry I went and met them at, The Worlds End Pub. We had a few pints before going to dinner. I really enjoy their company and having drinks and dinner together was great. By the time we ate, paid our bill, and walked back to the hostel it was 11:30. Yikes, I can’t remember the last time I stayed out that late on the trail. Once in my room I elevated my knee and put some ice on it. I actually fell asleep like that. I woke up at 2:30 very confused as to why I was so wet. I thought maybe I wet the bed until I saw the bag of melted ice on my knee. I just grabbed a towel and put it under me before going back to sleep. I had made plans for an early breakfast with Clouds and Ripple. England was playing Sweden in the World Cup at 8am. I’m a huge fan of soccer and Ripple supports the English team. We were both excited to watch the match in the morning. 

Today was a crazy day for sure. I’m just glad that everything worked out alright. This injury could have been ten times worse than it was. 

Serious disinfectant 

Free lunch 

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”
- Tecumseh

Saturday July 07, 2018
0 Miles hiked 

I woke up at 7:30 this morning. I was excited to meet Clouds and Ripple for the soccer(football) game. There was only one place in town to watch the game at, the same restaurant we went to dinner at last night, The Sagebrush Bbq and Grill. They have an awesome bar area with lots of big TVs and they serve breakfast. It was a win win situation. My knee was extremely sore and swollen this morning, but as soon as I got up and started moving it felt better. I met Clouds and Ripple at the restaurant. They had arrived early enough to get a good table. You will never guess what I had for breakfast.... a breakfast burrito. 

Colorado breakfast burrito

Breakfast was good and the football game was fantastic. England played a great game and came out victorious. I really enjoyed cheering for the Brits while watching the game with Brits. I drank way too much coffee during the two hour match. I guess that is better than drinking way too much alcohol. It was probably a good thing that the game was on so early. After breakfast I went to get my resupply shopping done. I didn’t want to have to walk so far again later in the day. The small market had everything I needed, but just barely. I couldn’t find everything that I usually eat, but I managed to cobble together a decent resupply. I was back to my room by noon. I was looking forward to laying in bed for the rest of the day. I quickly sorted my food and laid down. As I iced my knee I caught up on West World. I managed to knock out three more episodes before falling asleep. I hadn’t been asleep for very long when my mom called. Her and my dad have started their summer vacation road trip. I listened to her stories from Nashville. It sounded like they were having a good time. My dad and I talked about logistics for when they pick me up in Wyoming. With my newest set back there was no way I could hike the miles I needed to in the amount of time I had. I made the difficult decision to skip from Grand Lake to Steamboat Springs. I will skip about 90 trail miles. That means when I finish the trail in Canada I will have to make those miles up. Surprisingly I’m not that upset about having to do this. The CDT is all about being flexible and I’m learning to roll with the punches. This will be an easy area to get back to at the end of the trail. 

After talking to my parents I decided to grab an early dinner. I really wanted to continue hanging out in my room so I thought I’d just get some pizza togo. Since it was a Saturday night in a touristy town this simple act took two hours. I couldn’t believe it took two hours to get a pizza togo. Everywhere I went seemed to be way understaffed and extremely busy. I was more than a little irritated when I didn’t get back to the hostel until after eight o’clock. At least the pizza was really good. 


I watched a few more episodes of West World while I ate pizza and iced my knee. I actually fell asleep during the season finale. I was really hoping to finish this season, but I guess I have something to look forward to during my next town stop. So far I have really enjoyed the second season of West World. If you’re not watching this show, you should really check it out. The character development has been very enjoyable to watch. My next blog post will come to you from 90 miles farther down the trail. I have to hitch almost 100 miles tomorrow. I’m hoping it goes smoothly, but I’m mentally prepared for a long day of standing on the side of the road with my thumb sticking out. 

Shadowcliff Hostel 

"Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit." 
- Bernard Williams


  1. Ditto what your Dad said! Wonderful to hear about Casper & family, the guy who gave you the ride to Granby, and the fantastic Granby Medical staff. I know it's hard for you to skip miles and you are handling that very well.

  2. A difficult time with finding treatment and rescheduling. Thank you to Casper & family, Ripple & Clouds. Hiker communities are awesome by helping out the way they do. It makes, not only your family, but others, more comfortable, as well. I know you already have a plan to make up the skipped miles. Right decision to go get knee checked out. We had great visit with Carl, Patti, Brit and family and Michele. They all say hello and to be safe. LU

  3. Good that you got that looked at and cleaned up. Always good to know exactly what you are dealing with.

  4. Good job getting that checked out! What's a little crack in your knee-cap, after hiking the Mahoosuc Notch with a crack in your ankle, eh? Good vibes for a quick and easy hitch 100 miles up the trail!

  5. I’m so glad you were able to get to the ER and get the knee taken care of. Hope it’s feeling much better after some time off with your folks.Love your Friday quote. Also, I’m pretty sure Ed and I have eaten at the place you saw the soccer match. It’s been a few years, but I think that’s it. When this is all over, you will definitely have earned that triple crown!

  6. Good decision to get medical treatment for your knee and take a couple days off trail to heal. Trail angels restore faith in humanity! Thank you beautiful people! Go Yoda!