I had big plans, working in the backyard – and I had the rare motivation to actually see it through. However, we had made tenuous plans the night before to head up into the mountains to go to this out-of-the-way creek which people say has “natural waterslides.” It actually sounded really cool, like you could slide down these waterfalls and into these deep pools below. So around noon the crew amassed: Melissa, Ben, Erik, Sharaun and myself. We had some sketchy directions which led us about an hour and a half up in the hills and instructed us to park by a large gate on the side of the road, at which point we would have to go ahead on foot for about two and a half miles down trails into the woods.
We arrived at the gate at about half past two in the afternoon, and started down the trail. The part of the directions that covered the trails to the falls were not the best, instructing us to walk for about a two miles and parallel a creek for about another quarter mile before looking for a “descending path.” We passed a kid coming up the trail, and he asked us if we’d ever been to the falls before – and gave us a little more information about how to get there. As we went further down the trail, we came to a point where it split and headed off to the right – but chose to stay on the straight path and keep going, as we hadn’t really walked what we thought was two miles yet. We eventually came to a creek, and a path that paralleled it – just like the directions had said. Figuring we were only a quarter mile from the falls at this point, we plodded ahead. It’s worth mentioning now that we had been hiking for hour, and had stupidly neglected to bring anything to drink.
After much more than a quarter mile down the trail, we saw a “descending path” and headed down. Not too far down, however, the path became overgrown and choked off. Figuring we’d made a wrong turn somewhere, we decided to head back and see if we missed anything. So, summarizing, we walked down every possible combination of trails that you could possibly take. Finally, as it was nearing five in the afternoon and we’d been walking for nearly three hours with no success, we decided the falls had eluded us and we’d better head back. Around 5:30pm we had hiked back to the original fork in the trail where we’d continued on the straight path. Ben decided to poke his head down the right-tending fork, and said he heard voices and people. By now, we were all so frustrated, tired, and thirsty – that we were bound and determined to find this waterfall.
After a brief discussion, we decided to strike out down the other fork. We walked down a couple steep paths, and again came upon a trail that paralleled a creek – just like the directions said. We immediately knew we were on the right path, as there were arrows formed with sticks on the trail, pointing us in the right direction. Walking for what must have been another mile, we found another “descending path,” and were sure we were on the right track this time. Heading down another steep dusty trail, we eventually ended up at the falls. The girls were trailing Erik, Ben and I – as they weren’t quite as motivated as we were at this point. As we came upon the falls, we happened to run right into a friend of mine from work. He was headed back for the day, with a buddy of his. I begged a bottle of water off of him, and shared about half of it between the three of us – saving the remainder for the girls when they finally made it.
Had we got to the falls by the direct path, and hadn’t been walking for 10+ miles, and brought some water and snacks, I think we would’ve had a great time swimming and sliding and relaxing in the sun. But as it was, we were all tired and thirsty and just glad to be there. We knew we didn’t have much time to hang around, as it would be getting dark before too long. All the guys slid down the three cascading falls, the coolest one having a ~5ft drop into a pool below. The water was pretty dang cold, and my dreaded cold-induced-urticaria was beginning to act up. I was red and itchy, but still glad that we had finally made it. After climbing back up to the top of the three falls/slides, I sat on the rock feeling fine, if a little itchy, and talked to the girls. They had decided that they weren’t going to go down, and we were all pretty much ready to go. It was kinda understood that we hadn’t really made the final push down there so we could spend hours sliding and having fun, it was more just to prove a point.
As we all more or less agreed it was time to go, Ben and I decided to go down the slides one last time. He went down all three again, but I started feeling pretty crappy after going over the first one and came back up. As I was hiking back to the top of that first slide, I started having a really hard time catching my breath. I’d experienced the same thing a couple times before, both times also being after getting out of cold water while wakeboarding on the river. By the time I reached where the rest of the crew was sitting, white was creeping in on the edges of my vision and I could feel the color draining from my face. About to pass out, I quickly laid down on the rock with my head propped on Ben’s backpack. Laying down helped the about-to-pass out feeling, so I just stayed that way until Ben made it back up from the bottom of the three falls.
Getting up to head back up the trail, I immediately felt woozy and short of breath, and once again had to lay down. By now, the others were realizing that something wasn’t right, and they were telling me that my face looked blue. I could tell that I was close to falling out, so I just stayed laying down about a five feet from where I’d been laying before. By now I started shivering, which had also happened the two previous times I’d experienced whatever this was. It’s not a shivering because I’m cold, although it’s the same shivers – but it’s more just an uncontrollable shivering for no good reason. We tried to move along up the steep trail, but I couldn’t get more than a few feet before I’d have to sit down for fear of passing out. Half an hour later, and with light fading fast, we’d managed to move only a few feet up the trail. I could hear Ben and Erik discussing what to do, about sending someone back to go get help, etc.
Finally, it was decided that Erik and Melissa should head back to the car, and Sharaun and Ben would stay with me. I told them I didn’t need a stretcher or a doctor or anything like that, and just asked them to bring me a freakin’ Diet Coke and something to munch. After the party split, I continued to try and make my way up the trail – slow and steady, having to stop and lay down several times before we reached more level ground. After what seemed like forever, and now walking in the dark, we could hear cars on the highway and we knew we were close. I was basically on autopilot, just picking up one foot after another, not talking or anything. I hadn’t needed to stop and rest since we hit the level trail, and Sharaun and Ben said I had my color back in my face. All I wanted was a big drink to quench my thirst and to go home and get some rest.
Sometime around 9pm, we finally rounded the last corner. We’d started seven hours earlier, and had been hiking for probably five and a half out of those seven hours. Making that last turn, we could see lights ahead on the trail Sure enough, we trudged up just in time to see an ambulance pulling through the large gate where we’d parked the car off the highway. Feeling pretty stupid, I walked into the fleet of rescue vehicles and just let them take me.
Paramedics, heart monitors, pulse monitors, blood pressure cuffs, and general awareness questions. What year is it? What is today? Who’s the president? (Ugh, that brainless idiot Dubya). Finally someone gives me some water, and I’m feeling much better. I explain the situation, and the whole cold-hives allergy thing. They see that I’m feeling much better, and am alert and conscious – and I’ve got them convinced to let me go. My blood pressure is a little low, so they tell me they’ll let me sit until it gets above 100 on the high side and then I can head home and get some rest. On a whim, the guy checks my blood sugar with a prick on the finger and finds it at 62 when it should be at 80-something. This, apparently, is a “transportable condition,” and now we’re off to the hospital. An hour drive on bumpy country backroads, an IV, oxygen, and finally we get there. They wheel me out on a stretcher and into the emergency room.
I get the same round of questions, but by now I’m in high spirits – having been intravenously re-hydrated and re-sugared. I just want to go home. A little more than two hours and a soap-opera’s cast worth of ER patients later, I’m discharged with no information about what happened. I try to tell them I think the shortness of breath and fainting has something to do with the cold water, since it’s happened exactly like this before but to a lesser degree. A quarter to one in the morning, and we’re headed home from the hospital up the mountain. Feeling embarrassed, tired, and sorry for making everyone hang out so late… I try to make the best of it by joking and making people laugh. Finding out that Melissa and Erik jogged the trail up to go get help, I feel even more stupid.
I have no idea what happened, and I swear I’m not one to overact if something’s really not that bad. I just couldn’t stand up without wanting to pass out. If I could have powered through it without mentioning it, I would have – that’s just some inborn hard-headedness that I have (which I think I get from my dad). I just couldn’t power through this, whatever it was. I did my best, and eventually made it up – taking it real slow and easy… but man. Those guys were thinking about sending in a helicopter and crap, oh jeez how embarrassing.
Yeah, Saturday sucked. Dave out.