*Camping, hiking, climbing, backpacking, Alone*
Outdoor activities are great for a number of reasons, among these are Staying fit, learning about wildlife, practice of survival skills, learning about plant life, practicing stealth skills, and a host of other reasons that I could probably never remember all at one time.
The main reason I love the outdoors, to me there is nothing more relaxing than finding a secluded area, miles from civilization, where I can become part of nature. where I can listen to the sounds of the wind through the pines, birds singing there songs of happiness, the rustle of small critters scurrying through the grass and brush, the almost silent approach of a coyote or a wolf. I have never agreed with the statement of man against nature if you think this way you are not doing something right, and, you are not enjoying yourself to the extent that you should be and you are probably missing much in your adventures I believe it should be man with nature
One must learn to respect nature, attempting to conform to it, not vice versa. Nature must not be forced into our mandates. In this world of instant gratification, it is difficult for people to make such a mental adjustment. They are used to water on demand, climate controlled homes, automobiles, offices, a wide variety of food and generally easy lives. Remove all these luxuries, walk into the wilds, and it is a shock to the system. You will discover muscles that you didn't know existed. You will feel "nature" within you. It is unexplainable; in the beginning you will not even realize that you have once again become a part of nature.
Ok, so I am writing this with the hope of making you aware of some things that could really ruin your day if you decide to head into the wilderness alone. Now I have been playing in the hills and mountains for years.
I have spent a lot of time alone in the wilderness. I have run into some problems, but all in all have been very lucky I had read all the articles and stories about people falling and breaking a leg or cracking there head open. But, I am not clumsy or stupid so that won’t happen to me.
I should explain something here, the attitude expressed in the last paragraph is the way I felt and thought., that attitude is Also the attitude and thoughts that will get you hurt or even make you dead. Yes, I was one of the stupid ones, and stupidity can make you dead. Now can you go into the wilderness alone and survive? YES, of course you can. Can you head out for a day or a week and not even get hurt? Again, yes. I have been very lucky in my treks that I never got myself seriously hurt or killed however; I could have easily not come home because of arrogance and stupidity on my part. I am still here to tell this story because of pure luck and inadvertently covering my butt.
I was backpacking in the New Mexico wilderness. Destination a beautiful place called Horse Thief Meadows only about 3-4 miles from the trailhead, a short hike into a wonderful area with a small stream running through it. Here I planned to make a base camp and hike to three of the wonderful mountain lakes in the area. I packed up all my gear into my backpack and headed out. I had taken 5 days off work planning to leave Saturday morning camping a week and being back at work on the following Monday. I mentioned in passing to a couple coworkers where I was going.
Saturday morning I ate breakfast of a couple breakfast burritos I had made up the night before and headed to the trailhead. I couldn’t wait to get moving I had been looking forward to this for months. I arrived at the trailhead about 5:00 AM donned my backpack and started the hike I was in paradise! The hike in was pretty uneventful, I arrived at Horse Thief Meadows on a beautiful morning the sun was just cresting the mountain and starting to creep across the meadow causing mist to rise off the dew damp grass. I went about the task of setting up a base camp under a small stand of trees at the edge of the meadow at the top of a small rise a short distance from the creek. By the time I had this done I was tired, I had planned to spend the first day or two just lollygagging around base camp and checking out the area so I did just that for that for the first day.
I started feeling kinda yucky on the second day I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry and I had a sour stomach and I started to develop stomach cramps, so I ate some trail mix and skipped lunch, the trail mix did not sit well on my stomach at all, it tried several times to come back up. I decided to lie down for a while. I fell almost immediately to sleep and was awakened by the overpowering feeling that I was about to crap my pants! I scurried to the makeshift latrine, and proceeded to SQUIRT what I thought had to be everything I had eaten for the past month into the hole. Feeling somewhat better, I made my way back to camp after taking care of burying my leavings. I flopped down Took a couple of the Pepto bismol Tabs I usually pack in my supplies and was debating on whether I should try to eat something when oh oh I gotta run, back to the latrine!
After a fitful night of running to the latrine, stomach cramps, and the trail mix from earlier along with some unidentifiable substance forcing its way back up I felt a little better. I decided to walk it off and hike some of the trails close to camp. After taking some more pepto, I spent the better part of the day hiking, puking, and crapping thinking what a time to get the flu. I drank very little that day and ate nothing. That evening after a nap, I was feeling better aside from the cramps so I made up some Mountain House chicken ala king. The chicken stayed in me about as long as it took me to eat it, I could not believe how fast it came back up and second, how bad it tastes the second time. I lost it right in the middle of camp not good.
Keep in mind that the Pecos wilderness is bear and cougar country bears I am not afraid of, don’t get me wrong I respect them but I do not fear them. Cougars are a different story all together. Now I have the smell of chicken ala king vomit radiating from my camp to attract all the hungry critters in the area, like a Chinese buffet to a hungry person. I set about the task of cleaning it up and trying to hide the smell luckily, I carry a small container of chlorine just in case I have to disinfect some water of something. After cleaning up the chicken ala vomit I sprinkled a little of the chlorine over the area and poured a little water over it hopefully, this would discourage any night time four legged party goers from coming over for dinner.
After downing some more pepto tabs I headed off to bed late in the evening strangely feeling better. I had not had to make a squirt run or vomit in an about an hour. I figured allrighty then tomorrow I will get to go fish Lake Katherine! I slept like the dead that night getting stricken occasionally by cramps I awoke to another beautiful morning and felt pretty good. Still cramping and somewhat light headed but better, I made some hot chocolate and some scrambled eggs and bacon scarfed them down and was getting ready to make seconds when low and behold there was breakfast again! Almost the same spot I left the chicken the previous night. Great Oh well clean it up disinfect it and wash the dishes. Is this bug ever going to leave? Walk it off go for another short hike. I take food but don’t eat any or drink, although I am extremely thirst I am afraid to drink because I do not want it coming back up on me. I make the day without vomiting and only having a bowl movements a few times, I thought great pepto is finally working fall into another fitful night of sleep my stomach is cramping and I feel like someone is beating me with rubber hose. Morning comes and I decide to stay in bed and maybe sleep it off I sleep off and on for most of the day I am still running for the latrine on occasion but now it is very seldom and when I feel the need to vomit all I can manage are dry heaves which are really getting painful.
I decide late in the evening of the fifth day after finding blood with my deposits in the latrine that if I did not feel better by morning I was going to hike out and go home.
Morning comes and I feel like a bear has eaten me. And at this point I am kinda wishing one would. My stomach is cramping but not nearly as bad as before. My legs start to cramp up on me. I get light headed nauseas and dizzy every time I try to stand up I don’t feel like moving but I am thinking that I should probably get home and to a doctor I am beginning to think this is more than the flu. (Yea I know I have always been kinda slow)
I get moving around ten in the morning, and start to pack up my things I am so tired and weak that I am forced to rest every few minutes. I can't seem to catch my breath. I am extremely thirsty but I am still afraid to drink more than tiny sips. I decide to take a nap before rolling up my bedroll and tearing down the tent. I took some more pepto and lay down.
Just before dawn day 7 I wake feeling pretty much the same as the day before I take a painful trip to the latrine and find I cannot go My stomach feels like squirrels are eating me from the inside. My whole body hurts muscles are cramping up. I laid back down wondering what I have gotten myself into. I don’t feel like moving and I was just plain tired. I didn’t even have the energy to tie my boots I went back to bed. and, kinda slept. Most of the day was spent tossing and turning moaning and groaning, until late afternoon when I tried to stand up got hit with wave after wave of nausea and dizziness. I thought about crawling to my back pack for more pepto bismol, and water I am really thirsty but the trip seems so long, I went back to sleep.
Day 8 I am now scared I am to sick to stand up even sitting upright causes nausea and dizziness I am really worried that I am not going to make it out of this one. My mouth is so dry but I have no water in my tent I am burning up it seems and I cannot even reach up to unzip the tent to get out, then I would have to get to my backpack and it seems so far away. I drift in and out of consciousness the rest of the day. Later that afternoon I hear voices a ways off, I can tell that they are in the meadow. I use the little strength I have left to get the knife out of its sheath and I cut the door of the tent open so I can get out, (seems like an easy task doesn’t it?) but I cannot see anyone and the voices are now gone, were they ever there? I am now laying half out of my tent and decide I may as well get the water I know I have to have it. I started to crawl to the backpack about 10 feet away.
Day 9 I wake up with all of me except my feet out of the tent it takes me awhile to remember how I got there. The water did I get it? No, I only made it about a couple feet and must have lost consciousness. I am really scared now I know I very well may die. I cannot seem to catch my breath. I am trying to figure out what to do but I cannot seem to focus on any 1 thought I realize I need water and I cannot seem to focus long enough to decide what to do next.
Day 11 I woke up the world was moving under me I felt like I was being carried thru time there is a strange noise but I can't seem to figure out what it is. “oh crap I am dead, so this is what it’s like wow”
Day 13 I woke up and looked around I am feeling surprisingly good kind of cold but hey, I can deal with that. “Where the h*&^ am I? Is this a hospital? How did I get here? Why do I feel so da**** cold? Hey there is the call button” the nurse comes in and smiles at me she tells me that I was air lifted in bad case of food poisoning and severely dehydrated I am lucky to be alive she says. I ask for some water she smiles a big smile and says, “I will be right back” then the people started filing in.
I was released late in the day on Thursday. I was supposed to be back at work on Monday and I never miss work, which it turns out is exactly what saved my life. When I did not show at work on Monday the boss was mad, Tuesday he was worried. The boss along with a couple of my co-workers called the police, and told them where I had planned to camp and they sent the forestry service out to look for me. They found me lying in the middle of my camp like I was dead; I had a very high fever and was severely dehydrated. I was told in the hospital that if I had not been found when I was I would probably never have regained consciousness.
The moral to this story is, if you are going out alone make sure someone who cares knows where you are going and when you expect to be back. It doesn’t take an accident, or a bear attack to make getting back alive difficult. Don’t be hard headed if you think you should go home you probably should. and the last lesson if you ever have the misfortune of getting food poisoning do not take any kind of anti diarrhea medication the diarrhea is your bodies way of flushing out the bacteria. I know it seems like common sense but believe me when you are sick you may not think clearly, if you are expelling fluids be it through diarrhea or vomiting you MUST replace those fluids if you do not you will die. The doctor told me if I hadn’t been eating the pepto bismol and if I had replaced the fluids I was loosing I would have most likely gotten over this on my own. it was not the food poisoning that made things so bad for me it was the level of dehydration I suffered, he said in most cases of food poisoning the person infected never even goes to a doctor.
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