Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Walk this Way


So the back story of this story is that my Mom Mom was an avid hiker of the Appalachian Trail. She hiked mostly with her sister on some day trips, some over night trips, some days in a row trips, so on and so forth. Some people made guest appearances to hike with them, I did maybe like two or three times, never over night, and never unless the conditions were perfect. My Mom Mom and aunt didn't just decide to walk from beginning to end non stop like some people do, no one would let them do that. I definitely think they could have done it and wrote a best seller about it, but it's better off that they come home in between hikes. I mean deciding to start this hiking business in their 60's, it's only fair to us that they do it in increments.

Sometimes I think, that it would be cool to go from start to finish and hike the whole trail and not stop until I was done. And then I remember I do not like blisters, bruised toes, sleeping in the wilderness for more than 2 nights, and carrying my belongings on my back. So I really probably shouldn't go. I think I would get through the first day, and be like, 'hey at least I tried.'

Close to a month ago, my grandparents and my mom decided that they were going to take a trip to Maine so that my Mom Mom could hike Mount Katahdin. My grandfather was going along for the drive because he likes to take road trips. And no, not so much for the scenery and the excitement that it entails, but primarily for the car. No kidding. He likes to watch the gas mileage, the speed, the sound of the engine, and keep track of it all. My Pop Pop is one of those people who listens to car races on television with the volume up as high as it can go so that he can hear the engines of the cars. Their newest car had not been on a road trip, and so it was either this trip to Maine or Detroit. I don't know, don't ask me, something about the Ford plant, a museum.

So my mom says that she will go with her to do this hike. My Mom Mom is now 72 years old. It is not highly recommended that she do this alone. It's not highly recommended that she do this at all, but that is my grandmother, and she was not going to Detroit. I get a call the first day of the trip, about 45 minutes into their travel with them already needing directions, they somehow got off track 15 minutes from home. This my friends is when I should have stepped in and said, 'alright guys, turn it around, this is not looking so good.' But I don't, and they made it up there safe and sound. My Pop Pop was staying back at the cabin during the hiking, visiting in the small town of Millinocket, and just reading and relaxing. One afternoon he calls me and leaves me a message while my Mom and Mom Mom are hiking just to let me to know that there was no tv, the phones didn't have service, and the radio didn't work, he felt like he had gone back in time. Horrors. I got little check ins like this a few times and so on Friday morning he called a few times and didn't leave a message, I delayed getting back to him until mid morning when the kids were settling for some quiet time. I just thought he wanted to tell me that he found Elvis or something. So I just called and left him a message to call me back whenever.

An hour or so after I left that message Andy calls me and asked if I had spoken to anyone. Well I had talked to my friend Chrisy, my neighbor Steph, and I rattle this off, and he says, 'no from your family.' Nope, just a phone call, but no message from Pop Pop. Apparently, Mom Mom had fallen on the top of the mountain and she was in the hospital up there.

The story then developed into the following. They had left that morning early to do the hike to the top of the mountain. Pop Pop had dropped them off and was going to meet them back there that evening. Another reason Pop Pop needed to go, they needed a chauffeur, hey at least they are up front. The girls had made it to the top and were on their way back down at about 3 in the afternoon. It had been a difficult trip up with a lot of rock climbing, and walking over and around boulders, the path wasn't very even, it was ridden with rocks that you had to pay close attention to. So all of this had exhausted them. They were walking along the tops of boulders on their descent, my Mom in the front. A little hiking knowledge for you; when you are walking across the tops of boulders to get to yet another boulder, it is imperative that you do not look up while in motion. Your balance is easily taken away from you. My Mom Mom said she did just that. She looked to see where my mom was in mid step, and lost her balance. My Mom's intial thought was that Mom Mom was going to smack her head into a boulder, but Mom Mom managed to turn her body which led to her leg being slammed into the side of a boulder instead.

It was incredibly windy and cold on the top of the mountain, and after assessing the situation, my mom knew that she had to get Mom Mom off the top, at the very least.

Let me just interrupt right here and state that most people in this situation would just scream at the top of their lungs, panic, and then curl up in the fetal position with their thumb in their mouth, begging for someone to come and rescue them. But then again, if you are going to hike to the top of the mountain, if you are a hiker at all, then you know you have to be like the Boy Scouts and 'Be Prepared.' My instincts would be to refer back to the show Survivorman, and going through the recesses of my mind for an episode about a woman breaking her leg on top of a mountain, and no one but you around to help. I don't think there was one. So I would have been at the top of the mountain screaming with my fist in the air, 'Dang you Survivorman, how am I going to get out of this mess!?!?!'

My Mom Mom managed to get up with the help of my Mom and managed to walk back down into tree level. They actually walked from about 4:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. before she could not take another step and they knew they had to settle in for the night. In all this time, they passed no one, not one other hiker. Again an indication of the mild insanity surrounding the trip.

Meanwhile, my grandfather had alerted the rangers, and they informed him that once nightfall hit they would not be going to search. It was too dangerous for them, and they were sure they were fine, just got delayed on the mountain. Can someone tell me then what is the point of the rangers then? I mean really. A 72 year old woman and her daughter up on a trail, supposed to be back by 5 or so in the evening. They did not just decide to pitch a tent and enjoy the night because the mountain was just that beautiful. So my grandfather walked into the trail about a mile or so a few times, calling their names, to no avail. So he decided to just stay in the car at the bottom of the mountain until he saw them, or until it was light and the rangers weren't in danger so they could go on up there.

It was in the 30's temperature wise over night, but they survived it. I don't know where all the wild animals are, the only thing my mom saw was a mouse. Which I would have flipped out about anyway. In the morning, my mom decided to leave my Mom Mom, and hike the rest of the way down to get help.

She met up with my Pop Pop and the rangers and told them about Mom Mom and where she was. They went up there to get her, and let me just give a big props to the guy who decided to tell my Mom Mom that her leg was not broken that it was just badly sprained and then when she had to go to the bathroom set her down on some moss to just go ahead and do that. They immobilized her leg and then had her lean on them to walk down the rest of the mountain. When she could absolutely not go any further they took turn giving her piggy back rides. I don't know, do they not use stretchers in Maine? At the very least, they got her down.
They got her across this narrow bridge that sits over rock crevices, and they got her to the car to go to the hospital. I suppose you don't need an ambulance when you are stuck on a mountain for just one night with just a sprained knee. I mean you must have to be missing for 3 days and have limbs missing.

Needless to say my Mom Mom broke her left leg. So take that you rescue man who made her walk. Her tibia, right up by the knee.Kendall likes to call it her shinia, or her tinia, or whatever 'inia,' she can think of. They stayed up there for two more nights to recover from the exhaustion and then headed back. Two weeks ago Mom Mom had surgery on her leg, she now has a plate in her leg with borrowed bone fragments from cadavers. Thanks for the donation. Mom Mom is to be out of commission for 8 weeks. That means in this brace, minimal movement besides therapy for 8 weeks. Mom Mom told Kendall that she will be better by Halloween. And that is what the two of them are focused on. I suppose on Halloween Mom Mom will be able to dance a jig and go trick or treating, according to them. I say the New Year we will have Mom Mom back.

If anything she is a resilient woman, with a lot of determination. Did you have any doubts? She was going to hike to the top of that mountain, come what may, and it did. And she is going to be better by Halloween, she told Kendall this, and this is what is going to happen! She is bored as all get out. So if you have any recommendations, by all means.

And you want to know what I think? I think she will get out there on that trail again. She has had wild boars chase her on the trail, was in an accident that totaled my aunt's car while on a hiking trip for the trail, has broken her leg on the trail, there is still much to do. Question is, who is going with her?

1 comment:

paradox said...

Wow! Amazing story!! I am so glad they are both fine after a night in the mountain. Praise God!!!