This next part of the story is quite a blur to me as I was both in shock and in and out of consciousness. Once I’ve finished telling my story over the next couple posts, Kelsey has given me permission to share her experience which she has so graciously written down for me. She sent it to me a couple days ago, and I won’t lie; it’s frightfully odd to hear about the terrifying things I was doing that I don’t remember.
So anyway, back to the story. There we were at the top of this mountain almost completely out of liquids. We had expected to come over the summit and find Tibble Fork Reservoir just below us. Our hike should have soon been over at that point.
Instead, we found ourselves overlooking Utah Valley. We hadn’t hiked to the top of the Box Elder Pass. We had hiked to the top of one of the Northernmost peaks of East Mountain in Alpine, the mountain that I grew up against.
My legs were more or less jello at that point, and I was worried (though I didn’t yet want to admit it). My Gatorade was all gone. Reuben was out of water. And Kelsey had half a bottle of water left in her bag. To go back the way we came would mean traversing the six miles of the insanely tough terrain we had just hiked up. The other option was to find a trail and try to make our way over the next pass which looked to be another two to four miles of hiking. We discussed our options and decided it would be easier to keep going than it would be to turn around and go back. We scrambled down past the rocky peak and found a little trail that looked promising, though we weren’t sure where it led.
I made it about 100 feet when both quadriceps completely seized up on me. I needed water, but there was none.
“I’m worried guys.” I finally said it. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it off this mountain.”
We stopped for ten minutes or so and I ate a Clif Bar, hoping that the potassium would help. Things seemed to get better. “I’m sure I’ll make it if I just go real slow,” I told them.
We started baby-stepping along the trail (literally) to try and keep my legs from cramping. About fifty feet later they both cramped worse than before, this time cramping in my calves as well. “I’ll be okay, we just need to stop longer and I need to give my legs a longer rest.” Even as I said it, something told me I was in big trouble. Still, we stopped and rested for about half an hour.
During that time, I called Noah’s mom (who is one of the most dependable people I trust) and asked her to research wilderness remedies for heat cramps. She called back ten minutes later and wasn’t able to find much beyond drinking more liquids, stretching the muscle, and pinching your upper lip between your thumb and forefinger.
Eventually we tried baby stepping our way again, and for a hundred feet or so we were doing okay. But then we hit our first incline and after a few steps up, I was down for the count again. “Guys, I don’t know what to do,” I told them. Kelsey asked me to drink the rest of her water. I told her it wasn’t enough and that we should save it for if we get into more trouble. I really didn’t like that I was putting my friends into a risky situation on top of a mountain.
We rested for another 20-30 minutes and then I told Kelsey, “I have to do something. We’re going to be stuck on this mountain if I don’t. If I cramp up again, I’m just going to keep going as hard as I can and see if I can walk through it. Maybe walking it out will help. I’ll hurt like hell tomorrow, but at least I’ll get out of here.”
She asked me if I was sure, obviously concerned about my new plan. I told her, “I’m already stuck up here. I can’t walk. What’s the worst that can happen? We end up stuck again?”
Ummm… yeah. Famous last words.
Remember in my Death Knocked post when I told you all about almost dying in Las Vegas, and how I did something really stupid to my throat along the way? And how doing that made things spiral out of control?
Well, stupid is as stupid does. And my new plan was equally as stupid even if from the noblest of motives.
We started walking again and just as I assumed they would, my leg muscles cramped up. Instead of stopping, I kept walking. Within twenty feet the quads and hamstrings in both legs were completely cramped. I kept walking. Soon the calves in both legs cramped. I bit hard into my lower lip and kept walking, determined to move through the spasms and convince my body that it had to keep going. Then my shins joined the party. I kept walking. Somehow. Then the tops of my feet spasmed. Then the bottom of my feet spasmed. I tried to keep walking. When my butt muscles spasmed I finally collapsed, unable to inch any further.
I can’t tell you the kind of pain I was in at that moment.
And that’s when everything started becoming blurry.
I writhed on the ground for several minutes, massaging all my muscles the best I could. While lying on the ground, I asked Kelsey to take a photo. She didn’t want to, but I told her it’d be fine. We’d figure out how to get my broken butt off this mountain and soon we’d be laughing about it. “It’ll make a great blog post,” I said. She took the picture. It was one of the last things I remember before blacking out.