Thursday, July 25, 2013

Life is Unpredictable

This post isn't like any of my other posts.  I am more writing this for me to document it and learn from it more than anything.  I do hope that if there is a lesson to be learned from this post, that those reading it can learn something and pass it on.  I would also like to thank Ray from Reel Finatics for suggesting that I write this post.  Check him out and tell him I sent you his way.

A couple of weeks ago I was busy working my job for Fremont County Juvenile Probation.  We were attending court as usual on a Tuesday afternoon around 2:00 pm.  When court gets over I am usually pretty antsy to get out the door and head back to the office but today we sat around and talked with a family who was in court for their child.  After visiting for a little while, my co-worker and our two interns packed in the county vehicle and headed back to the office.  We were all talking and joking around until we saw a kid laying on the side of the road with his bike next to him, with blood on his legs.
This is the road where the kid was laying
We pulled the car over and went over to the young kid.  At this time there was another vehicle who had stopped to make sure everything was okay as well.  We made sure that an ambulance was called and told the boy to stay laying down and to not move.  We parked the vehicles so that traffic would have to go around the boy while we took care of him.  The young kid was laying in the road and said that he didn't know exactly what happened. All he knew is that something went wrong and he crashed and was now hurting really badly.  We could tell this young man was in a lot of pain and that he was in shock.

I was trying to wrap my head around the sight of a young man who was 11 years old, laying in the road with blood covering nearly his entire lower body.  The young man had shorts on and both of his legs were just covered with blood.  This young man had a friend with him who also said that he really didn't know what happened.  The friend stated that they were both heading to his house and riding their bikes down the road until his friend started weaving back and forth and then crashed really hard onto the road.  We kept asking if the young man was hit by a car and both of them said that he had just crashed by himself.

I knelt down by the injured boy and talked to him about what happened.  He told me his name. He said that he and his friend had just gotten finished swimming and that they were headed to his house to play.  He said that he was riding his bike when all of a sudden he lost control and went up and over the handle bars of his bike.  Talking to me was extremely difficult for the young man to do, due to the extreme amount of pain he was going through.  We continued talking about swimming and how it was, his family, and other information, such as where he lived and where his parents worked.  Every few words he would stop, close his eyes and let out a soft, "It hurts so bad."... My heart was aching for this young man because I could tell he was hurt way beyond my First Aid training I have for my job.  While we were talking, a vehicle pulled up and an older man jumped out.  This man was a man I knew quite well who works for the local EMT unit.  He was in his personal vehicle and saw a few cars parked in the road and decided to see what was going on.  He quickly grabbed a bag out of the back of his car and came to the boy's side.  He told me to keep talking to the young man while he checked out the injury.  I visited with the young boy while the man lifted the boy's shorts and looked at the source of all the blood.  I got a quick glimpse of the wound which made my stomach sink.  He quickly put the shorts down and grabbed his radio.  I heard him report to his other EMT staff that they needed to bring lots of pain medication and that they needed to get another unit who could get him to a better hospital as fast as possible (not in those exact words but I knew what he was saying). I continued to visit with this young boy and assisted the EMT man in anything he was asking me to do.  Those tasks varied from talking to the boy, to directing traffic, and to getting him medical supplies out of his bag.

It turns out that when the boy crashed on his bike, his handle bars turned sideways right before he went up and over the front end of his bike.  The boy's bike did not have handle bar grips on them, which left nothing except an exposed, hollow, blunt end of the handle bars.  The handle bar caught the young man right where his torso and right leg met.  The end of the handle bar stabbed the young boy and then proceeded to rip down his leg while his body was going up and over the front of the bike.  The boy's leg was ripped wide open, his femur was broken, and his femoral artery was nicked and bleeding quite badly.  After what seemed like an hour (I can only imagine how long it felt like for the boy), the ambulance showed up and took complete control of the situation.  They kept the boy as still as they could, loaded him up and took him as quickly as they could to the hospital for emergency surgery.

After the ambulance left, we went over to the young boy's bike and noticed that the end of the handle bar was all bent up and (without going into to much detail) full of an unusual substance.  During all of this time my mind and heart was racing of what may happen to this young 11 year old boy.  He wasn't doing anything dumb, immature, risky, or dangerous.  He was simply riding his bike home with a friend on a road he had traveled down hundreds of times...and now he had a life threatening injury.

I am a new father to a beautiful baby girl who just turned one a month ago.  I am constantly wondering how she is doing while I am at work and constantly worry about her safety.  I take caution when she is near swimming pools, stairs, sidewalks, roads, and any other area I foresee risk.  I am CPR certified and trained in First Aid.  In essence, I do what I can to make sure she is taken care of and is safe in every situation I can.  But this situation shows me that there are so many things that can go wrong that it is nearly impossible to have all of your bases covered.  While at the same time, this situation also taught me that, while there are so many things that we cannot control, there are also so many things that happen for a reason.  The fact that the two vehicles both stopped to take care of this young boy and that a trained EMT was driving on the same road at just the right time shows me that things happen for a reason.

Later I received a phone call from an officer who showed up at the scene.  He told me that it took him over an hour to get a hold of the child's parents but the young boy was luckily okay and going to be alright.  The trained professionals were very skilled in what they were trained to do and were a huge reason this boy was lucky enough to survive his injuries.  This phone call was about 4 hours after the accident, and during those 4 hours, I probably said over 100 prayers for this young boy.

Life is so unpredictable that you never know what may happen at a single moment.  I shared just a few of the small lessons I learned through this experience, while holding the more personal lessons I learned sacred to me.  I hope we, outdoors men or anyone else reading this, make sure that we prepare as much as we can for any situation we may find ourselves in or that we may come upon while also never forgetting that there is a Man up above who we should always thank and include in all of our adventures.  Even if that adventure is your daily drive to work, be sure to be aware of your surroundings and offer a helping hand to anyone in need.  You never know if you are going to be the guy who drives by or if you will be the young boy on the bike doing nothing wrong.  Remember that something as simple as saying, "Hi," or having a conversation with someone can go a long way to someone who needs it. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Palisades Lake

Me sporting the Teton Sports Summit 1500 at Lower Palisades Lake
Me sporting the Teton Sports Summit 1500 at Lower Palisades Lake
I know I've said it before, but I will say it again, I consider myself a lucky man.  My wife and I just celebrated our five year anniversary and every year we have done something outdoors for our anniversary.  I don't know many wives who genuinely want to go camping, fishing, and/or hiking for their anniversary but mine does so I consider myself to be pretty lucky.

My wife and I decided we would go over to Palisades Reservoir  and go camping, fishing, and hiking for three days.  We have been over in that area quite a few times but we have never spent enough time to really explore the area and enjoy what it has to offer.  We had heard that there were two beautiful lakes up above Palisades Creek which had native Cutthroat Trout in them.  We decided that on our first day of our three day get away, we would drive to Palisade's, set up camp, relax and do a little fishing in the reservoir.  To make a long story short, nothing went our way that day and we were both wondering how things could possibly get worse. We ended up having problems with our camper, problems with my jeep, a brand new anchor we purchased hours earlier got stuck in the bottom of the reservoir so we lost it, and about twenty other things all decided to go wrong.  So by the end of day one we were so frustrated and annoyed we called it a night and decided we would wake up when we felt like it and just play it by ear for the rest of our trip.

Gear oil from my Jeep :(

The next day we slept in, ate breakfast, and then decided we would still go on our hike to the Palisades Lakes we had heard about.  We didn't start our hike until 12:30 p.m. so we really didn't have any set plan of how far we would go or anything.

My wife and I on the Trail
Palisades Creek Trail
The Trail

The first thing I liked about the hike was the fact that the trail was right next to Palisades Creek.  There were multiple places where a person could stop and fish in the creek for a bit or even just put their feet in the water to cool down.  With us starting our hike as late as we did, the creek provided a nice cool breeze, which kept us moving up the trail.  Also, another major plus about this trail being right next to the creek was that I would guess about 75% of the time, the trail was covered with shade which also made it nice for our late start.  The area was beautiful and full of a variety of views including mountain sides, valleys, cliffs, and the beautiful stream running down the bottom of the canyon.  Many people see mountain goats and other wild life on this hike including bear and cougar. The only wild life my wife and I saw was a mule deer doe, which was just walking on the mountain side.

Ribz Front Pack Hiking
Ribz Front Pack
Teton Sports Summit 1500
Teton Sports Summit 1500

Due to our late start we decided we would head up to the lower lake and then make the call if we were going to continue to the upper lake or if we would just spend the rest of the time fishing.  Before I go on, I have to give a shout out to Teton Sports for my awesome Summit 1500 backpack which I have used almost every weekend since I've gotten it.  I also used my Ribz Front Pack to pack some of my fishing gear my wife and I would need on our hike.  I love these two items and wouldn't go on a hike/fishing trip without either of them! Be sure to click the links and read my reviews on these two items!

Now back to our hike... The hike was honestly a fairly easy hike. It never had any crazy incline or scary switch back that I would consider difficult.  The only switch back to the lower lake was quick and simple.  We even passed a group of older ladies on the hike who were around 65 years old. There were all smiles and enjoying their adventure.  When I say that this hike was easy in my eyes, remember that I am used to hiking in the back country chasing elk and deer.  The last thing I want someone to do is to read this and go on the hike expecting it to be a walk in the park.  There were some areas with loose rocks which could be a little dangerous.  The trail does side hill along some pretty steep mountains which puts you on some fairly dangerous drop offs.  These areas were ones that I felt gave the trail its variety and kept us entertained on our hike. I liked how the trail was never the same scenery for too long; it kept us entertained the entire time on the hike. 

Camp site at Lower Palisades Lake
Camp site at Lower Palisades Lake

Lower Palisades Lake
Lower Palisades Lake
When we got to the lower lake, the trail lead us right into a small camp site which had a few backpackers camped out in it.  The camp site was nice and clean and very peaceful.  I would totally come back and camp there some time now that I've seen what it is like.  The lake was amazing! The water was crystal clear blue and surrounded by beautiful scenery.  My wife and I hiked around the back side of the lake, threw out our fishing poles, and sat down to rest.  Because we slept in and had a late breakfast we had planned to eat a late lunch when we got to the lake.  I had packed a few Mountain house meals but soon realized that I forgot to pack something to light my backpacking stove to boil the water on...  So we just chilled out for a while at the lake and ate some of our light snacks we brought with us.  We took a short break and talked about whether we should head up to the upper lake or not.  The upper lake was only just over two miles more of a hike but we decided with the time that we would just fish on the way back to our vehicle and cook ourselves some dinner at camp. 

Native Cutthroat Trout
Releasing a beautiful Cutthroat Trout
Native Cutthroat Trout
My wife with her first catch
Native Cutthroat Trout
Small Cutthroat
On the way back down the trail we stopped in multiple places and fished.  We were catching fish, or at least getting bites, pretty much every cast.  I was using a Mepps spinner and my wife was just tossing a worm in and letting it float through the deep sloughs.  The fish we caught loved to fight for the size they were which made it fun.  The bigger fish were colored up real nice and made our trip worth it.  On our way down, we took lots of pictures of the small water falls and other scenery provided by the creek.  We heard that the upper lake had some good water falls to see around it. I would assume that by looking at the smaller ones around the lower lake, that the upper water falls were worth seeing.
Native Cutthroat Trout
Another Cutthroat Tout

Native Cutthroat Trout
Native Cutthroat Trout
With all of the fishing we were doing, we took a lot longer walking out than we did walking into the lake.  We both decided that next time we would wake up a little earlier and be sure to bring everything we needed on our hike so that we could make it up to the upper lake and see what it has to offer.  We are planning on backpacking to the upper lake and camping there either later this summer or it will be one of our first trips next spring.  I've already recommended the hike to a few friends who are always wanting to get outdoors and see what Idaho has to offer, and I would encourage anyone who may be up in this area to do the same!  This hike was definitely a nice relaxing hike with plenty of rewarding adventures on the way.

Water Falls

Water Fall
Small water fall on the way down the trail