GRAND CANYON TOROWEAP
LIBERTY BELL ARCH
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GRAND CANYON TOROWEAP
LIBERTY BELL ARCH
Cars. As far as the eye can see. Lining the road, glinting in the early morning sun. Tourists blink vacantly from behind their windshields. I stand outside my van and stare up the road.
This isn’t a hike. Wha??
I’m stuck at the damn. I mean dam. Damn dam.
I’m afraid I’ve missed the group, and I’m frantically calling Amy Brewster and her posse, the leaders of our Liberty Bell Arch hike.
Then I spy her. A little white speck waving at me from half mile up the road. She is also standing outside her SUV, talking into her cell phone while husband and kids are strapped (and squirming too, I’m sure) in the motionless vehicle.
Chris Meyer (also trapped in his car with his own family) speculates that someone blew through the checkpoint and caused the entire security patrol to enact an immediate lock down.
He is right. We are parked in the third position from the security checkpoint, and people are getting antsy. The patrol officer stares into the distance and ignores us.
After 20 more minutes we see the flashing lights of a patrol car coming towards us, followed by an SUV pulling a boat driven by sheepish looking guy. They pull over next to us and the motorists glare at the guy while he slumps down behind the wheel. Way to go man. Nice way to kick off a weekend morning at the lake. Time’s awastin’. Thanks dude.
Then the traffic kicks off, and we finally make it to the trailhead. I see the rest of our group includes Bob G.-sans the Hummer this time-natch, the trailhead is just a pull-off on the side of the road three miles past the “Welcome to Arizona” sign. Peggy and Steve are ready for action in addition to the Brewster, Meyer and Owen clans.
Sunscreen slathered, diapered up (the little kids, that is) we head for the hills. The sun shines, the desert blooms and the dogs run amok. It is a beautiful day.The trail is easy to follow and winds up and down for about 2.5 miles. Along the way there is an open mineshaft. Tantalizing… I dream about falling into the mineshaft and disappering for little awhile hee hee. A little me time, me takes what me can gets. But oops, I left my blender in the car, and what good is a getaway without a good margarita?
We decide to explore the mine on the way out.
Toby leads the group along the trail
About two miles in, we pass the Liberty Bell Arch. It’s a little ways off the trail, up a steep embankment. We all stop to take a look while baby Kenny sleeps, oblivious to the geologic woder in front of him.
We reach a scenic overlook and stop for lunch, drinking up the aerial view of the Colorado. Kayaks drift around far below us and birds dive and dart just below the cliff. My son (damn his red-headed daredevil genes) passes the time by lunging for the edge of the cliff every few minutes. Multiple adults body-block him each time he makes a break for it. It seems it’s a fun game for his 2 year-old mind. It gives his poor mama here a stroke five times over till Dad finally takes the hyper-active little rascal for a walk among the sage, AWAY from the edge. He then busies himself hiking with two adult-size trekking poles while my husband gamely dodges the steel tips. Danger-boy. (sigh)
The dogs scrounge for cast off morsels of dried fruit and crackers while the Trail MILFs discuss LVMC, The Next Generation. Among our topics of the day, a road trip to Colorado this summer, Kristi’s chic new ‘do and the fact that Sierra is in fact a Hot Little Dish and Baby Kenny and Nicholas are going to have to throw down for her lovely attentions. Hopefully not for many years to come. And only if my son survives his cliff-jumping, pole-wielding stage.
Baby Kenny surveys the scene blissfully from his cozy backpack, unaware that we are carelessly prattling on about his future forays in the world of dating. Toby, the wisest of all, sits and munches contemplatively on his PB&J.
Back on the trail, Joel deals with his feisty toddler who has decided she wants out of the backpack, and can walk the trail on her own, thank you very much. And who’s the one to say no to a girl who knows so decisively what she wants???
Right below the Liberty Arch, our trail leader Toby takes a little spill on some loose rocks. In a millisecond, three hikers are by his side as he takes a breather on a nearby rock. Water is proffered, wounds are examined and Toby waits, stoically, bravely for his mom to round the bend. He studies the little prickers that cover his hand. Bob whips out a mammoth size first aid kit (dude, did you really have that stashed in your little pack? kudos) and goes to work on the stickers. Mom comes and gives her special mommy magic to Toby’s hand, and we hit the trail again.
We all veer off the trail to inspect the open mineshaft. Indeed, it is open, bounded by a little shrivel of ancient barbed wire, and I’m afraid one of my wide ranging mutts will get too close and fall in. Nick is safe in his backpack, so I focus my obsessive maternal worry machine on my dogs. But all is well. Bob warns us not to take anything electronic into the mine, as it will de-magnetize in there. So that means my blender won’t work? Damn. So much for my frozen fantasy.
Speaking of frozen, I’m over it, the hike, I mean. It’s freakin’ hot, we’ve seen the sights, and I want to go home. Anything over 80 degrees, my brain melts. We reach the cars and pack up. But the trip is not complete without the requisite stop at A&W in Boulder City. Nothing says “great job kids” better than a fantastic sugar rush right before the ride home. Root beer floats all around. But wait, I feel ripped off, and I fear I am showing my age a bit… Since when did they start using that fake soft ice cream that extrudes out of a machine in root beer floats? What happened to real ice cream? But I digress.
SAR RESCUE FROM WHITE ROCK HILLS PEAK
I enjoy this peak since it offers a great advanced scrambling experience to the top of a Red Rock NCA peak. This time, we didn’t make it to the peak because we needed help from Search and Rescue (SAR). I’ve been to the top of this peak twice before - both times following a route along the west side starting from Rocky Gap Road after the Willow Springs Picnic Area. This time I wanted to follow a route from the south side along a ridgeline to the left of the peak closest to the Lost Creek parking area.
Dave Luttman, Colin Okada, and I met at the Red Rock parking area before the fee station at 7:00 am. Dave volunteered to drive to the Lost Creek parking area.
A monster cactus
We started the hike about 7:30. We proceeded up the White Rock Hills loop trail until we were close to the scrambling route. We enjoyed some class III scrambling and found a barrel cactus that was over 5 foot tall! I was even surprised to discover small patches of ferns in crevasses along the sandstone. Soon into the hike (about 8:00,) Dave realized we were heading up terrain that exceeded his comfort level. He decided to turn back and hike something easier while Colin and I agreed to continue. We agreed to use our radios to communicate with each other. Dave would meet us back at his car. Dave told me to use ch 18 subch 0.
Dave and Colin scramble up the rocks
Colin and I continued up the ridgeline enjoying great class III and IV boulders and chutes. Several areas we had to stop and think of the best route up. Everything was going well until about halfway up. After traveling through manzanita and scrub oak brush I stopped to relieve myself. Colin was going to continue to climb over a boulder. Once I turned around towards Colin all of a sudden I noticed he had just impacted to the ground. A handhold thought to be secure broke loose. Colin fell almost three feet down. When falling backward Colin used his right arm to brace himself, and unfortunaely, the angle of impact dislocated his right shoulder. At first we both thought it was a soft tissue injury. I asked him to raise and move his arm to loosen it up. However, he was not able to lift his arm past his neck and there was a lot of pain. I then felt his shoulder feeling a bulge. We concluded his shoulder was dislocated and there was absolutely no way we could make it down the mountain via the route we followed. There was no way to get higher to reach an easier way down either. The only way down was with the help of SAR. The accident occurred at 5,385 feet at N 36 degrees 09’ 46.5” W 115 degrees 29’ 37.4”. This position was about 1200 feet above the parking area after traveling about one mile.
Colin sure looks cheerful for having a disclocated shoulder (boulder from which he fell in background)!
Thankfully both of us had our cell phones with us. I didn’t have a signal from our location so I moved to another location with a line of sight view of Blue Diamond. I called SAR at about 09:15. I was surprised to discover they can ping my cell phone to determine the GPS coordinates. I confirmed them using my GPS, although, they don’t have the final decimal reading like my GPS.
I went back to Colin to check how he was doing. I suggested he eat his sandwich to keep his energy up and because he wouldn’t be able to do so once SAR arrived. I had told SAR I would lay out red webbing on a rock I had brought for this trip near our location. I then sat in the open to wait for a SAR helicopter to arrive. SAR spotted us about 10:00. They circled around our location trying to find a good spot to land. It was amazing how well the pilot was able to maneuver in such confined space. These people are very highly trained and experienced. Colin and I thought they would land in the area above us, then downclimb. The helicopter found a spot over a hundred feet away (at the same level of us) dropping off a SAR rescuer. After a few minutes I hadn’t seen the rescuer so I started heading his direction to help him find a route to us. The rescuer assessed Colin’s situation and used a triangular bandage to secure his shoulder. I then realized I should have thought of that as I had a triangular bandage with me in my first aid kit. The SAR rescuer was happy Colin was able to walk because otherwise they would have to use a basket. He then let us know we get a free ride on a helicopter! It was a nice gesture, but we never intended for such to occur.
SAR helicopter approaching
I assisted Colin in hiking to the landing zone (LZ). I broke off the brush we traveled through to provide a clear path to the LZ. A little up climb was necessary, but Colin did fine with help from the both of us. The SAR helicopter hovered away from the LZ in the area over the Lost Creek parking lot. I was told to wait while the SAR rescuer led Colin to the LZ area. The helicopter slowly approached the LZ. I then realized the only way to land was for one of the skids to be placed on the rock while the other was floating on air. The pilot did a phenomenal job of keeping the helicopter completely level while Colin and the SAR rescuer boarded the helicopter. Very amazing flying skills! The helicopter then took Colin away to the ambulance.
Evaluating Colin's injury
I was alone on the peak waiting for the helicopter to return for me. Once Colin was hurt I continually tried to radio Dave to let him know what was occurring. Unfortunately there was no response. The helicopter took me down to the Red Rock loop in front of the Sandstone Quarry. The loop was closed to all traffic until the helicopter left. I thanked the SAR rescuer then joined Colin in the ambulance. We were then taken the wrong way on the loop back to the parking area so I could drive Colin’s car to Summerlin Hospital. I couldn’t drive my car because my keys were in Dave’s car!
Colin boarding helicopter
Colin was in great spirits the entire time despite his shoulder throbbing. The doctors confirmed via x-rays his shoulder was dislocated. My wife Kristi had to meet me at the hospital with a spare set of keys to my car. She then took me to my car. I then went out onto the loop to find Dave. While traveling the loop I tried to reach him on the radio with no luck. I finally found Dave sitting in his car at the Lost Creek parking area. It turns out his radio only went up to channel 14. I told him the situation and we then went to the hospital. By the time we arrived Colin’s shoulder was back in place and he was sleeping. We left the emergency room about 3:00 pm. I drove him to my house to watch over him, had dinner, and then determined he could be left alone for the night. We went back to the hospital to get his car and drove him back to his house.
The next day I asked another Pink Jeep Tour guide who was at Red Rock that morning for a tour about the rescue from their perspective. I know they would have been in the Rocky Gap/Willow Springs area at the time of the rescue. They of course had no idea what had happened. A guide told me there was a fire truck in the area and that a BLM Ranger approached him stating something in a derogatory manner indicating this incident was a tour guide’s fault. Since SAR asked me my occupation, I told them I was a tour guide. The SAR rescuer then asked if Colin was a client. I told him no way. A tour company would never take someone up this peak and they wouldn’t have permits to do so anyway. Apparently, word spread that a tour guide was involved and blame was directed to the first tour company seen by a ranger – Pink Jeep Tours.
In any case, Colin is doing well and he is in great spirits. He had a great time with the route and he has no regrets knowing full well the risks for these kinds of activities. He will recover and be out on the mountains again in the near future!
CLICK HERE FOR LVMC EVENT SCHEDULE
Las Vegas Mountaineers monthly meeting this month
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Mount Olympus, Greece
in Greece, is "the mountain of the gods" and a mountain
of myths that has been celebrated in folks songs, by Homer and other
Greek and foreign poets. It is special mountain with a spiritual
beauty all its own.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008