Harrowing Day on Mt. Wrightson

Here is a story from a friend who is very tenacious. He moved to a new location and made a new life for himself after retirement. He wrote this story about one of his experiences:

PROLOGUE: In November of 2009, I awoke in the middle of the night, and as I attempted to get out of bed, I was stuck by a paralyzing pain in my left groin that sent me to the floor
screaming. While lying there, any effort to move only increased my agony. Over the next hour, the torment subsided and I was able to gingerly move about. My son-in-law, who is an emergency room doctor, told me that since the pain was restricted to my left groin, and because of the severity of the pain, it sounded like a kidney stone. However, I did not get an exam. Four months passed and the sequence repeated itself, only this time the aching was in my right groin as well. My son-in-law suggested that I get examined, and I complied. After several test, nothing was found that could have triggered the events.
Knowing that my weight had significantly increased, I resolved to lose forty pounds, stop over indulging in alcohol, and exercise extensively. The resolution was kept and the malady was kept away.

September, 2010, A PLAN TO
HIKE MT. WRIGHTSON: It is about an hour from the time I lock the front door,
until I arrive at the Madera Canyon parking lot, south of Tucson. I normally
wake so early in the morning, that often I have thought that I must be carrying
the gene of an ancestral dairy farmer. This day was different; sleepiness had
pushed my anticipated trail head starting time back two hours. So I arrived at
the parking lot in Madera Canyon after nine o’clock and I strapped on my supply
of water and other necessities, and I headed up Old Baldy Trail to Mt
Wrightson. Although the Tucson temperature was to soar past the century mark,
the higher altitude and the shade there in the Coronado National Forest made
hiking pleasant. The trail rises over 4,000 feet from the 5,500 foot trail head
elevation.

Mount Wrightson
Mount Wrightson from a distance

The prior week I had taken a
preparatory hike to the half point known as Josephine Saddle. This is the
location where three Boy Scouts had frozen to death during an unforecasted
autumn snowstorm some years back. Anyway, I made the half-way hike with ease.

This day, when I reached Josephine Saddle, I felt great and there was no stopping me now. Though the vistas were spectacular, it had been a couple of years since I had traversed
the trail from this point upward and I had forgotten just how unrelenting the
uphill grade was. The trail wound through a portion of the forest that had been
destroyed by a wildfire earlier this century, and the Douglas firs and the
ponderosa pines had been replaced by weeds and wildflowers. Swarms of
pollinating bees ushered me higher and out of their domain. “Hey, I’m going as
fast as I can on my total replacement knee”.

The trail was now a steady series of steep, loose-rock switchbacks and perhaps it was from my tobacco using days, but about every other Switchback, I had to stop and regain my
breath. I was so exhausted by the time I reached the summit, that my appreciation of  the view and of my accomplishment was replaced by the realization that there was no elevator to return me to the parking lot.

I only rested for about five minutes before heading down the trail. It must have been at around the 8,400 foot elevation point that I noticed my right shoe lace needed retying.  Too tired to bend down, I propped my foot on a boulder, and as I reached to tie it, the muscle on my right hip began cramping. As I adjusted my body to ease the knotting, the malady struck my left groin and face down on the trail I went!

“Houston, we have a problem”.

Bears and mountain lions inhabit that area. If a bear were to have seen me, he would have thought, “Crazy old fart”. If a mountain lion were to have seen me, he’d have thought,
“Ummmm, supper”. My list of favorite ways to die does not include “being eaten alive”.

Lying there, it occurred to me that there was no one remaining above me on the mountain…no one to discover me. It was three “Empire State Buildings” down to the parking lot, but stairs and handrails were replaced by loose rocks and protruding tree roots along side of death-for-sure cliffs.

Okay, the unbearable pain lifted. I was able to tie my shoe. I was able to stand. I was able to take baby steps. Down the mountain I began. It was 1:30 and I projected my parking-lot
ETA at 6:00, if nothing went wrong. With each misstep, my groin would send me a reminder.

“Hello bees. No I am not a giant sloth, but thanks for asking.”

There was another problem…possible darkness. I knew that sunset would be about 6:30, but sunset is marked by the sun sinking below the curvature of the earth. By 3:30 the
mountain was already blocking the sun’s rays. It was about this time that I was hit by the unwanted urge to relieve my bowels…a really forceful urge. There was nobody on the trail to see me, and my backpack contained toilet paper and a Ziploc bag to properly dispose of the used tissue. So why didn’t I just do it? I was afraid that if I squatted, I’d be unable to
get back up. Now I have a powerful, ancillary discomfort to deal with. Oy, vee!

At about 5:00, way down below, I spotted the gable roof of an A-frame building that I knew was near the parking lot. Did I mention that there is a restroom at the parking
lot? Okay, only one more hour of complete misery.

Guess what? I reached the parking lot at 6:00, uneaten and undead.

Parking lots are beautiful, and you can tell Joni Mitchell!

   This retiree, like other retired guys I know, is a rabid sports fan. He also wrote the following poem for those of you who follow the Royals:

The Dudville 9

(KC at the Bat)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I’m almost up to one, it’s hard to count these days

I think you guys do try your best

Still you’re oh and seven against the NL West

That’s a division that is bad I thought

I guess Bud Black has a juggernaut

I know I do a lot of bitching

But every batter loves KC pitching

They know their average will surely grow

With every pitch you boys throw

Against the Padres and Colorado

Errors in every game are hard to swallow

Though you’re not really flashing the leather

Ryan says you’re enjoying the weather

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About Joyce Ann Brown

Freelance writer retired from a long career as a library media specialist, adventurer, reader, lover of all things spunky. Besides hiking K.C. trails weekly, I currently write for publications and write cozy mysteries. Find Catastrophic Connections and Furtive Investigation on Amazon.
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