Since no one was near me on the ascent and it was early in the day when
animals were feeding, I called out
"Hey, bear" dozens of times until I reached the tundra and
could see everywhere around me for hundreds of feet.
Below tree line I was especially careful around curves and
approaching rises in the trail. I surprised some bears on the
Appalachian Trail ten years ago but wasn't keen on running into any
bruins in Alaska. Another hiker told me later that he saw a black bear running off
through the tundra this morning but all I saw was bear poop.
ADDING INSULT TO INJURY
miles from the end I tripped and fell forward, hard, on my
When I looked at my photos later I saw that I'd taken a
picture on the ascent of the spot where I landed:
It's a wonder I didn't crack or break a bone -- or
my teeth, glasses, camera, GPS, trekking poles, etc. I "only" had three bleeding
lacerations. The one on my elbow is deep. Farther down on the outside of
the lower arm a long flap of skin partially covered a large bleeding
wound. I was nervous about all the blood I was losing.
I haven't mentioned
it in previous entries, but this was my third recent hard fall during a
hike or bike ride. It literally added insult to injury.
I wasn't the most graceful
trail runner for 30+ years; I'm also a clumsy hiker.
I put my pack on a large rock nearby in the shade and dug out a bandana
to mop up the blood on my elbow before
anyone came by. I couldn't tie it, however, so I asked the next nice
couple going up the trail to help me. They went above and beyond --
washed the wounds a little bit with their water bottles, tied the bandana,
got out a first-aid kit and asked me if I needed bandages, tape, etc.
I wasn't carrying a full first aid kit but I had some bandages I could
use on other smaller bleeding spots so I declined their kind offer of
They also wisely asked if I was dizzy or faint. No, but I was concerned
about getting the wounds clean and the blood stopped ASAP. The fall shook
me up but I still had my wits about me and the usual pain meds I take for
arthritis helped alleviate the pain. The bandana controlled the bleeding
pretty well until I took it off at home.
I continued down the trail even more carefully with ten miles of hiking
under my belt and drove home.
Tiny yellow flowers in tumdra
Dwarf fireweed and Indian paintbrush near the
Jim and I talked about our respective activities during the day before
we got around to looking under the bandana. What he saw shocked Jim,
a former volunteer EMT. We used running water and antiseptic
wash to clean the wounds as much as I could stand -- the water
We put bandages over two of the wounds but we had trouble
stopping the bleeding from the deep elbow gash. I couldn't even see it
without a mirror. Jim said he thought it needed stitches.
By then it was about 5 o'clock on a Friday afternoon. Jim went to the
military resort office to ask if there was an urgent care clinic in town
-- nope. The advice was to go to the hospital ER. We did, and we
were there for three long hours.
Above and below: busy bees gathering nectar
from the wild geraniums about 3½ mile up
All four rooms for patients were full. After about 1/2 hour
we could get into one but it took a long time between all the procedures
to get 'er done.
The doc wanted x-rays to ascertain if there was any
gravel in my elbow. Good thing, because there was. He numbed the area
well and a nurse washed out what gravel and grit she could get. It was
after 8 PM by the time I got stitched up, bandaged, and out of there.
Here's what my arm
looked like the next day (the pictures are better after the bandages came
off to clean the wounds!). Scroll past the photo real fast if it grosses
Jim can take the stitches out in 10-14 days (we didn't tell the medical
folks that). We left
with instructions for care and enough non-stick bandages and ointment to
last two days. Jim has tape and gauze we can use in his EMT kit, and
we'll purchase more bandages and ointment when we get back to Anchorage.
[I never did get an ER bill, thanks to our coverage with Medicare and
Tricare for Life. We don't like using ERs willy-nilly, but we didn't
have much choice in Seward late on a Friday afternoon.]
Next entry: visiting the Seward Sea Life Center
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil