Date: Wednesday, 19 July 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Mile 1843.9, 5935 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Thielsen Creek at Mile 1853.6, 6936 ft
Daily Miles: 9.3 PCT, plus 3.0 through navigation error
Total PCT Miles: 1313.3
Weather: Cool early then warm and sunny
Breakfast: Chocolate pies and peanuts
Lunch: Candy and peanuts
Dinner: Rehydrated chilli mac with cheese
Aches: Damage to lower left ribs and abdomen, and grazed head and hip from fall
Highlight: The jagged rocky spire of the 9000 ft Mt Thielsen dominated the hike today.
Lowlight: Firstly, in mid-morning I took the wrong trail at an intersection high on the shoulder of Mt Thielsen. I felt a little uneasy at the time, but looked around and couldn’t see another trail or signage. What I should have done is consult my map, but I didn’t and paid for it with a downhill jaunt of 1.5 miles and over 1000 ft, before realising my mistake. It cost 90 minutes all up and a lot of energy and I was not happy with myself. Not long afterwards, and perhaps related, I slipped on a snowcovered edge of the trail on a steep slope, lost my footing completely, and fell head first onto boulders below. I managed to protect my head but the full weight of my body and loaded pack drove my lower left ribs onto a pointed rock and that’s where I lay, upside down and winded, for about 30 seconds. It took me a while to extricate myself and I was in a lot of pain from the ribs. See below for the rest of the story.
Pictures: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
The day started well, with a lovely section of relatively flat forest before the trail began a long climb up the shoulder of the distinctive steep rocky peak of Mt Thielsen. On reaching a trail intersection, I made a stupid navigation error (see above) and cost myself a lot of time and the early night I had promised myself.
After recovering from the error, I found the right trail on the north side of the mountain and with it lots of snow. On a not particularly scary bit, probably due to inattention, I fell and badly injured my ribs (see above). My fear was that I may have broken them and also done myself some internal damage because the pain was fierce and the whole area very tender to touch. I had trouble doing anything like bending down, picking up my pack or putting any weight on my left trekking pole, but still had to negotiate a scary steep snow slope, followed by a lot of other snow requiring care before I reached Thielsen Creek, the only water for the day (about five metres of creek exposed in a valley otherwise covered in snow). My descent had been slow and painful and I was feeling occasionally nauseous and lightheaded.
Suspecting I was probably suffering from shock, and not knowing how serious the injury was, I decided to set up camp, an incredibly slow and painful experience, have an early dinner, and put myself to bed at around 4:30pm. Any kind of movement was excruciating and I could only tolerate lying on my right side, and even then couldn’t move without waking myself up with a gasp. I thought my injury was likely to be hike-ending, or delaying, and slept fitfully, suspecting I might be too sore to hike the two days out to civilisation and therefore have to use my emergency beacon in the morning (for a helicopter rescue) if it looked like there was an internal injury.