CJ had his first DH races of the summer this weekend. This year he has to race in the 15-18 bracket even though he’s still 14 for another month. I didn't get pictures because I was tired and gimping.
He got 7/19, 5/15 and then became determined to podium for the last race and got - crash 14/15.
I get so nervous during the races, and I guess I must continue to do so! He’s ok just bruised and scrapes, did not hit his head. He bent the hell out of his back rim though...🙄 (Just put that on top of the very tall bill pile! 😆).
Still a very successful weekend since 1) he can walk 2) only one 15yo and one 16yo beat him, the rest were 18!
Life tip #7458:
Got some fantastic news today! Turns out I’m just simply a huge wimp. Grade 2 separation with a small fracture which is suspected in causing my high pain and inflammation levels. Rotator cuff is intact (well I figured that one out on my own). Conservative treatment recommended - no surgery for now! If not significantly better in 3 weeks I will have soft tissue imaging to further investigate the source of the remaining instability. Green light to use/exercise my shoulder “as tolerated”. (Which I always smirk at a little at when it’s for ME).
I fell 10-15 feet directly onto my shoulder blade onto the rocks. It swelled up to at least the size of a softball that day. I could barely even move my arm for 3 days. I could not lie down onto my back and had to sleep sitting up for a week. I could not function without wearing the sling 24/7 for 10 days. The pain was more than childbirth! I feared the worst all along...
Chads arm and hip have also been coming along. He got his stitches out a day or two ago and the swelling and bruising in his arm and hip are mostly gone.
Thank you 1000x to all who have prayed for us and supported us in any way! ❤️
God is Great! 🙏
Even the surgeon said “God was watching out for you that day”
My friend Mary Lou said “I know God caught you during that fall”.
I believe so.
Put on your seatbelt...it’s a novel. (This is about all the people that helped us - go back to the post on Saturday if you want the play-by-play on the accident)
So of course you start pretty early on thinking - What is the meaning of all this?
It is not “live life to the fullest” because I have learned that lesson and I already do that. This is about instructions for how to be a good person. A lot of truly nice good people still exist, in fact - are everywhere - in this world. Love conquers all. God’s plan for all of us.
I may suffer in other ways down the road, only time will tell...but when I think about all of this when do I tear up? It is not the pain or trauma or loss or bills coming, it is when I think of the efforts and pure goodness of all the people who have somehow come all together at this time to get us through this. Heroes. Angels.
First, of course the obvious - the people or person taking the call was excellent. I am having trouble finding which agency took the call. I think it is Delores County. I am not sure even how to find this out but they were the key to communication between all parties. And they always answered when we texted with questions or concerns making us feel better during the initial commotion. The most important one was relaying the altitude to the heli so they could come in at the right level to spot us.
Second, the Lifeflight crew! Matt Watson is his name...I could not find an obvious profile on FB - the SAR paramedic who busted his butt to get up to us on the ridge so quickly, and patched us up before the heli rescue came! He probably had more enjoyable things to do that Friday, and he risked his own safety on that awful rock to help us. The lifeflight heli guys - Matt Hansen, Pilot and John Mann, Nurse! Amazing skills - it is dangerous to fly so close to the mountains. As I watched them circle so many times I thought we were all so lucky that the weather was still calm. They dropped Matt W off in the valley and went to wait below at the meadow. Once I was in the life flight heli, Matt and John gave me a headset and were really nice and just talked with me about normal stuff. John had a scenario made up and he was close - he thought it was husband-wife or bf-gf and this was going to be a terrible rift in the relationship because the husband was pushing the wife into doing things she did not want to do. I had to tell him it was quite the opposite - since I was trying to finish the 14ers this year and was well into the centennials too. However, Chad did seem to be a willing participant (this time) - and the only reason I tend to lead on this sort of terrain when we climb together is because he is a better climber than me and frequently chooses moves that I don’t like or can’t do as easily and that reduces the “rift”, lol. Now this ride was sweet. They have the stretcher facing forward right next to the pilot! John was behind me monitoring vitals. We had to skirt several pouring rain clouds on the way to Durango. We barely dodged the rain...and many many thoughts of averted disaster flashed through my mind. I got to listen to all the talking over my headset and it was decided we were doing an apparently rare “hot patient transfer” when we got to the hospital heli pad. Just like the movies (isn’t this all?), where they jump out and offload me, put a fresh stretcher in and the hospital staff run out and get me all while the helicopter is still running - because they had to go back to get Chad. Everyone seemed excited about this! Glad I could help, haha. Turned out, all the people decided the Lifeflight would just go get Matt the medic (he had to downclimb the ridge alone!!) the USFS heli stopped at the meadow - !!!!refueled via an already waiting fuel truck!!!! 🤯 - then flew Chad directly to Mercy. Chad was not a “hot” handoff - my ER room was near the nurse station and I overheard one of the nurses lamenting later on that she was sad she missed the hot handoff...haha!
Third, the USFS guys! This heli was bigger. I sadly forgot my tandem scream suit guys name. I think it might be Mike. The one that rode with Chad was Zane. I remember I got a little teary once these guys were plopped down from the heavens and immediately started saying thank you. They both introduced themselves and Zane locked with my eyes and gave me this look as he shook my hand that just said “we got you” but without words. They quickly decided I was going first since I was worse-off (I guess cause I fell and probably also looked more pitiful for sure with the blood all over my face and hands), and that the scream suit was the way to go and got to work wrapping me up with splints and slings and tape to secure my arm to minimize the pain. They got us all wrapped up in the suit and off we went! Mike was very reassuring the entire ride checking on me and saying that I was doing great. He even fixed my helmet in mid flight because it was catching the wind and flipping up and choking me. I was pretty quiet - it was then that I just really couldn’t believe that I was really here and this was really happening. It was so beautiful but it was a mix of guilt, pain, shivering, appreciation, and trying to “enjoy” it as much as possible...I was not scared or screaming...I was starting to feel safe. I of course did not meet this pilot...but, unbelievable! The precision with which this giant machine was flown was really impressive. We were on such a steep section of the ridge, that this pilot had to get very close to the rock but still get a tether and people to/from this 3-foot ledge!! Also, I had the softest most gentle landing in the meadow, Mike told me to just sit when it came and I did and there was no impact whatsoever! Chad said he had a little more tumultuous of a landing - as he and Zane had the supply bag with them. Something about the bag ending up on Chad and Chad on top of Zane. 😆. This matters not.
Four: the hospital! Mercy Durango is staffed by angels. My main nurse was Joshua. He was extremely lovely and was cracking medical jokes once he learned my background, especially when they wanted a urine sample and when I lowered my underwear a bunch of gravel fell into the collection pot...Dr Yeargen was great explaining everything and stitched us up very nicely. I told her to make my chin scar extremely beautiful and she said “of course I will!” Many other wonderful people came in over the course of the stay, the middle part when the imaging happened is all a bit of a blur due to the pain meds. Near the end, one wonderful lady brought me a tee shirt from their donated clothing closet and scrub pants when she realized I’d be putting my dirty bloody clothes back on. Meanwhile, Chad and I both started to realize we were in a bit of a bind once we were discharged. Our wallets were in the car. The car was at the trailhead. The keys to the car were in the tent 5 miles up! I texted chad about this at one point and I got the response “I have it taken care of”. The hospital had given us meal vouchers for the cafeteria, had given Chad clothes, got us a hotel room, and a taxi ride there!! They also arranged for a stop at Walmart since that was the only place we could spend money - through having my AMEX linked to the Walmart Pay app! (I don’t even remember doing that but I was glad I did)! We were so happy just to have this one night figured out, we didn’t care about much else at the time. Chad somehow had dug up a contact Tom at the USFS and was going to call later to try to figure out how twe get all our stuff.
There’s a lot more.
The hospital Cafeteria Angel: we went down to the cafeteria with our $10 voucher for food. I wasn’t very optimistic about finding something for myself due to not being able to chew or even open my mouth very much for that matter. I found a $4 lasagna that I thought would be mushy enough and asked the chef for a serving. He said “why don’t you want the whole meal?” (Which included green beans and bread) and I just said, well we can’t afford it because it’s $8 and we only have $10. And before I could even explain further, he put a huge plate together and insisted upon buying us the whole meal himself so we could spend our $10 on other stuff. We went back in after eating our feast (Chad had to eat the green beans and bread) to get his name and to thank him again, but he was gone!
“The Walmart Conundrum” and the Uber Angel: We got to the hotel and all we wanted to do was sleep. But we quickly realized both our phones were about to die and we had no charger. If we didn’t get back to Walmart to buy a charger, we’d have no way to buy things at Walmart or communicate in any way, (or Uber which was another important thing we needed to do but didn’t think of at the time)! But we had no way to get there so we looked at Chad’s phone and it said 1.1 miles. We started walking. I wish I had a picture of what we looked like. Both with right arm slings, scrub pants, face stitches, not showered in 2.5 days - hell, I was still intermittently picking gravel out of my hair and ears....and then there was Jason, charging his E-car on a plug station. As we started walking through the first Parking lot (the electric utility building), my phone on 14%, tired, in pain, dirty, smelly, looking like a disaster...Chad asked Jason if this was the correct direction to Walmart and he said yes. Chad managed to mumble - “you wouldn’t maybe be willing to give us a ride there, would you??? “ And Jason the Angel looked us over for a good long couple seconds and said Yes!!! Once we were on the way to Walmart and gave Jason the Readers Digest version of the long day we’d had, we learned he was an Uber driver! (The lightbulbs started turning on!) Jason even volunteered to wait for us outside of Walmart and take us back to the hotel. Jason gave us his number. He seemed willing to possibly take us via Uber way out to our car which was about 2.5 hours into the middle of nowhere and involved dirt forest service roads! Furthermore, the taxi service wanted to charge us $300 to get us to Telluride. The Uber to the actual trailhead was going to be like $140, and we thought if all else fails, we can at least just get to the trailhead, walk the 5 miles up to the tent to get the car keys, take what little we could carry and get out. Yes, that would hurt but it could work.
The biggest and baddest Angels Josh And Chris from Telluride: we were finally set for some showers and rest at the Super 8 when Chad heard from Tom, the USFS Guy, that he could not get a crew together to get our stuff until Monday (it was Friday night). This was just not going to work so we were thinking the Uber + hiking plan was going to have to happen. But Tom had also given us Josh Butson’s number, a professional guide, owner of Telluride Adventures/San Juan Outdoor Adventures to see if he could possibly help. Chad got the call back. We spoke with Josh a bit and he also works on San Miguel SAR. He said if we were one mountain over, he would have gotten our SOS call earlier in the day! He seemed like a really nice guy and he kept apologizing as one of his little kids was throwing a fit about bed time. We all had a laugh about that! (Been there, done that) But we couldn’t believe our ears when he said that Saturday was his day off so he could go get our stuff tomorrow with a coworker Chris! And that, furthermore, he was not going to accept money for it!
We called Jason the Uber Angel back and had the whole plan in place! It was a long day but it all worked out beautifully. It didn’t even rain on our angels as they spent half of their day off away from their families and things they’d rather be doing to hike 10 miles and 2,500 vert with a heavy pack full of strangers’ wet camping gear...for no payment other than profound thanks. We even tried to shove money on them once we got our wallets out of the car but we could only force a little on them and Josh flat out refused...
Josh, Jason, me, Chris, Chad.
We made our way to Crested Butte which was pretty hard, and then back to Golden yesterday. And you know the whole story now...
Furthermore!!!! There have been so many people who have checked in and offered help. We know who you are and it will never be forgotten. I even had an Angel today take out my chin stitches ❤️, an angel volunteer to mow our lawn ❤️, and a family of angels volunteer to watch our dog ❤️!! Even if you just dropped a note to say glad you’re ok, or prayers, thank you so much. You are an angel too.
This experience (this post!) continues to be an exhausting thing. But I truly feel that the good has by far outweighed the bad. It has forever changed my attitudes and renewed my faith in the goodness of people. It has been motivational as an example I wish to follow going forward. There have been times in my life, dealing with depression, when I truly thought that nobody really cared...and now I know that was just wrong...I am really looking forward to paying all this forward. We love you all, and we’re here when you need us! 😘.
(I mean, I’m just including Chad in this final statement, although he gets no actual philosophical credit - and I don’t want to force him to do this difficult “route”...he has already started saying things like “Don’t throw any rocks at me but...” 🤣)
I got to ride in 2 helicopters yesterday. Which is super exciting. Except that it was a SAR rescue of myself and Chad off El Diente North Buttress at 13,200’.
We are beat up but ok, lucky really...
Everything was going as planned. We were working our way up the route, choosing carefully because it was, as expected, scary loose and class 3-4 terrain. At about 8:30 I was going up a little slot specifically because we couldn’t find terrain we liked in the area that wasn’t loose. The last rock, about the size of a dishwasher, appeared to be wedged into the V at the top of the slot. As I weighted it to pull up and over, it peeled off.
I fell backwards with the boulder about 10-15 feet. I hit on my R shoulder and then my head whipped down and I heard the sound of my helmet shell hitting the rock. Immediately following that impact I felt and heard the thud of the rock hitting my face. Chad said the boulder split when it first hit just above me so thankfully only part of the huge rock hit my face. I flipped over once and landed on all 4s thankfully. Then I remember thinking “this is really bad” and wondered if I even had a face or teeth left. Meanwhile, Chad was getting hit by the other part of the boulder, as he was about 15 feet below me and had nowhere to run. He got hit on his entire right side from the elbow down to ankle.
Just as I finished the thought about the face, I heard Chad say “I think I need a tourniquet”. That snapped me out of the daze and into action, and I got up, we got seated over on this 3 foot ledge, and assessed the situation. I was excited to learn the rock hit my jaw dead center - I had all my teeth, nose, cheekbones...but was bleeding and I thought my jaw was broken since I could not close my teeth together. Chad had a bit of a gusher going on as his R forearm took the brunt of the impact and had a nice gaping gash with a ton of swelling - we both thought his arm was broken. I started getting the medical supplies out of the pack when I realized I could not move my R arm. I did the full flexion setting procesure thinking it was dislocated but no dice. So, thereforth I just thought it was smashed and proceeded with my L hand only. Got some compression on Chads arm then started trying to cover my chin. Yep we left a little DNA up on El Diente.
After bleeding was addressed, it took us about 30s to decide to activate the SOS on my Garmin InReach. There was no getting down safely with what we thought was 2 broken arms, broken jaw, head injury.
I just thank God and Country and SAR and USFS and dispatch and everyone and everything involved from this point on that everything worked as it did. We were already getting cold as the clouds were building. I knew if the weather kicked up we were in big trouble. We couldn’t get the bleeding to totally stop on either of us and I was running out of supplies. I was worried that a ground rescue would be happening if the rain started too, which was going to take a very long time being 7 miles in from the trailhead, and the terrible terrain.
Since we had the ability to text with dispatch, we were able to hugely expediate the rescue process - in about 10 minutes I communicated to them our coordinates, our injuries, that we were going to need a heli as we were basically perched on a pile of class 3-4 loose crap rock, our combined weight, that we had our orange emergency blanket out for them to look for. Dispatch was keeping us updated and relaying our info to SAR seamlessly and immediately. I know this because of the following..
The first heli showed up in around an hour. They passed 5 times and did not see us. They were too high. I texted our elevation and on the 6th pass they came in at the correct elevation and found us! They gave Chad the thumbs up - as he was going out on a rock outcrop even though he was wobbly and was frantically waving the orange blanket each time (with his good arm) while I shivered over on the ledge. They dropped off a paramedic in the valley to come up to us to help and left as they could not perform the rescue due to the terrain. We became a little worried at this point and texted dispatch and they assured us we were spotted and to wait for the medic.
To our amazement, Matt the SAR medic climbed up to us from the basin in about 45 minutes. He let us know that another heli was coming and got to work patching/splinting Chad up better. I only had one sling, and I had used it for bandaging on chads arm, I had a coat tied around me (which took us a long time to get with 2 left hands) as a sling.
A larger USFS heli showed up about 15 min later. They lowered 2 guys and some gear from the tether cable down to us. What I didn’t know was that we would be going out in that very manner. They called it “the scream suit”. I wondered if the “screaming” was due to possible fear of heights or the upcoming pain from my squashed shoulder in said suit.
They got me packaged up in the suit (a huge and burley harness), clipped a guy to me, clipped us both to the tether. I assumed that we were going to be reeled up to the heli but no. The screaming of the suit is traveling about 4-5 miles dangling from the tether underneath the helicopter to a meadow down next to the entrance road, where I was told just to sit down when the ground came. The landing was amazingly soft. I then got shuffled into the original lifeflight heli while the USFS heli went back for Chad. They flew both of us to Mercy Durango.
I had a head/neck CT and shoulder X-rays which remarkably were all negative. Chad’s arm was also negative! The damage is indeed extensive, but all soft tissue! I got 9 stitches in my chin and I’m guessing Chad got 10-12 (he could not look at the procedure, nor did he ask). The impairments are still mounting, but we are just happy to be here today!
Here are some of the pretty pics we took before all this happened.
We know God was watching over us throughout. It was not His plan for us to go, because instead, He sent us all these good good kind smart amazing people here - whom we have to thank for helping us when we needed it the most. We have experienced nothing but heroicism and kindness and empathy and help from people. It’s been a humbling and overwhelming wave of human goodness.
Tomorrow I will post more. There is a lot more to say, and a lot of specific thank yous.