Friday, August 3, 2012

Rain Clouds in the Hot Springs

Okay, Monday.  Just like the weekend, it was both really crappy and pretty wonderful--with not much in between.  That morning I woke up, expecting to enjoy a relaxing morning with Clint, whom I hadn't seen in three days.  Instead we got into a nasty argument.  I won't get into the whys, but it ended up monopolizing our entire morning.  We did eventually make up, but the whole thing left me feeling emotional for hours. 

The day wore on, and I started feeling more upbeat as we began packing for the Hot Springs (although my eye infection was coming back, which was really aggravating--guess I should've followed the Rx's directions).  As I mentioned in my last post, Matt and Alana were visiting from Nor Cal, so all of us decided to hike up into the Hot Springs again.  But this time we planned to stay the night.  I had been excited for this excursion for the last three weeks.  I kept fantasizing about soaking in nature's jacuzzi beneath all of those bright stars, enjoying  late-night wine and conversation with good friends. 

Matt and Alana had already hiked up to the Springs earlier that day, so Clint and I decided to meet up with them sometime after 4:00.  The first little problem arose when Clint's mom called us around 1:00 saying she was sick as a dog and couldn't watch our kids, but luckily, she arranged for Moo (Clint's sis) to watch them.  So all was fine.  But then at 3:00, Moo called and told us that Lucas (my nephew) was projectile vomiting, so she couldn't take the kids.  We now had no babysitter.  We tried several other options, but nothing panned out.  I was starting to panic, because I knew Matt and Alana were already at the Springs, and there was zero cell service up there.  We had no way to call them and tell them what was going on.  I couldn't bear the thought of canceling our plans and not only leaving them hanging all night, but losing out on an experience that I had been looking forward to for weeks. 

Clint agreed that we couldn't leave the two hanging, and bringing the kids along was definitely not an option.  Thus one of us needed to do the hike.  Of course I volunteered.  Initially he was opposed to the idea, but he was still so sore from the black belt test that it didn't take much to convince him.  He filled my backpack with all sorts of little survival stuff, plus I took my .38 special and Yang (my dog) in case I needed to ward off any crazies (it is the Hot Springs).  He dropped me and Yang off at the trail head and off we went.

Now I say this casually, but at this point I need to mention that I have a teeny-tiny fear of going to unfamiliar places by myself, and a big fat fear of getting lost.  I used to have recurring nightmares as a kid in which I was deserted in unfamiliar places.  It's one of my worst fears.  I'd rather cuddle with a black widow than get lost alone.

Okay, so back to hiking.  The trail I was on was one I had never taken before and was much more vertical than the other option, but was only two miles from the Springs instead of six.  So of course I decided to take this route.  I was about ten minutes into the hike when my trail went into two opposite directions, and I realized I had no idea which way to go.  Of course there was no one around.  I knew this was a possibility, so I kept calm.  I pulled out my cellphone to see if I could pull up some sort of map, but I had no service.  I remember just standing there for a few minutes, looking back and forth, feeling utterly helpless.  Then it started pouring.  I actually laughed outloud at this point, because I live in the desert, and it might be self-absorbed but I knew that fucking rain cloud was there just for me.

I eventually figured out where I was going, and at that point the hike was amazing.  It smelled so wonderful, and once I found the right trail I was able to just relax and enjoy the scenery.  It also felt so liberating to conquer that fear of exploring unfamiliar territory alone.  After such an emotional day, those two miles were such a soothing therapy.

Once I reached the Hot Springs, Alana saw me right away from the river and hollered for me.  I explained to them what had happened with the babysitting, but Matt spent most of the day not believing me.  The eye infection had given me a case of the sniffles, so he was convinced  that Clint and I had argued about going to the Springs and I had stormed off without him.  All day long, he was like "Why are you crying Jodi?" and my answer was always the same: "Because I have a damn eye infection Matt."  It was pretty funny.

So we enjoyed a day at the Hot Springs, met lots of interesting people, collected wood for a fire that evening, and everything was going great.  Until night came.  Matt slipped from a rock, fell about ten feet, and ended up dislocating his elbow and breaking his arm.  At first he didn't think it was that bad, but then he held it up under what little moonlight was filtering through the clouds to show Alana, and it looked all contorted with a round ball sticking out from his elbow.  When Alana saw this she took a few steps back and told me "Oh my god, I'm going to pass out."  She didn't, so good job there Alana.

Alana and I, along with a dozen of nearby hippies, tried  for hours to convince Matt to let us hike him out, but his answer was a resounding "Hell no."  There was no way he wanted to risk a treacherous six mile hike in pitch dark (there were no stars due to the cloud cover and barely a moon), with us girls having to carry a bigger burden since his arm was useless.  Of course this made sense, but sitting there all night with his injury seemed so wrong.  Ultimately, all we could do was keep Matt's arm in the cool water all night and wait it out until morning.  He did take some Excedrin to help deal with the pain, plus we bummed some mystery liquor from one of our neighbors, so all of this helped a bit. 

Obviously we didn't get much sleep that night.  Matt constantly wanted to be in the water, but neither Alana nor myself were comfortable with the idea of him navigating the rocks in the dark with an injured arm.  Alana was pretty exhausted by 1 or 2 in the morning and could barely keep her eyes open, so I told her I'd watch out for him and ended up staying in the springs until 4 or 5 in the morning.  It was beautiful in those springs.  Even though the stars were hidden, the moon came out at one point and was so bright that it was reflecting off of the clouds.  There were a few people here and there with us, and they were all so easy-going, friendly, and relaxed.  Okay, they may have been stoned. Anyway, we spent most of the time in a spot that the three of us discovered earlier; a river pool containing cooler water, but if you lean against the rock, a hot waterfall spurts down your back.  It's wonderful--a non-stop back massage.  But in this case, it was a nice compromise; it gave Matt the cool water he needed for his arm, but gave me the nice hot water that I was craving.  

Eventually we came back to camp and I finally curled up in my sleeping bag, which was on the ground outside because I forgot to bring a tent.  Matt and Alana insisted that I sleep in their little two-man tent, and had it been necessary, I would've had no issues with it.  I'm not one with worrying about personal space.  But the temperature that night was so beautiful and perfect, and I actually felt excited about the prospect of sleeping under the stars...even if I couldn't see them.  So I tried to fall asleep, but I remember I felt so, so silly.  I think I was delirious with fatigue, but I didn't feel tired at all.  I started chattering to poor Alana who was trying to sleep, until eventually I passed out.  It was more of a doze though...I could still hear all the noises around me.  I do remember that the ground and the backpack I was using as a pillow felt like the most comfortable thing on the planet, so I must have been pretty tired. 

I woke up at first light.  Not because I was ready to wake up, but because my damn eye was super-sensitive to the sunshine even behind the closed lid.  Soon after, Matt and Alana woke up, and we spent time preparing breakfast and breaking down camp.  Matt's injured arm was now very swollen, with purple marks forming around the joint, so Alana and I felt pretty concerned about getting him to a doctor.  Right after breakfast, Matt threw up, and he seemed to be running a small fever, all of which didn't help our worry. 

We decided to hike the six mile trail out, because the trail I had taken the day before would require us to hike vertically upward for two straight miles...not an appealing option for someone with usage in only one arm.  Once ready, we set off.  The hike was long and hot, and we were quite the pitiful group.  Sleep-deprived, hungry, and a third of us crippled (two-thirds of us if you count the fact that Alana's hip was giving her issues).  When we finally reached three or four miles, I at last had cell service.  I called Clint to tell him what was going on, and he immediately drove to the trail head and started hiking our direction.  When he reached us, he took Matt's pack and hiked the rest of the way with us.   

Alana took Matt to the ER while Clint and I grabbed Del Taco for everyone.  We were all famished.  In two days, I had eaten one can of tuna, salami, and a packet of oatmeal.  Clint delivered the food to Matt and Alana in triage, where Matt technically wasn't allowed to eat, but he said "screw it" and crammed a burrito down anyway.  Then Clint drove me home and I crashed for three hours.

Matt's arm (with the elbow popped back in):


He is now doing much better but is still not quite up to par. We're still planning to get in one more visit with the both of them before they leave on Saturday. For this next visit, maybe we should stay at home and play Boggle.