Risk's Ultralight Hiking

The skills involved in setting up a light backpack serve well for both hiking and touring. Learning what is really necessary and then finding high quality gear that meets my honest needs leads to much less carried and more fun. I hope this journal is as much fun to read as it is to write.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sleeping with a Fibular Fracture

This is a cross post from the hammock camping yahoo group.

As I reported earlier, I fractured my left fibula 23 days ago while hiking the AT in Maine.

I have continued to improve steadily and have been walking on my leg fairly well for a week now. It is not up to full strength yet, but the swelling is down and I no longer need a splint or a walking stick.

In preparation for some car camping I am planning for early next week (Balsam Mountain in the Smokies) I checked to make sure that I can use my hammock. Unfortunately, I can't do that yet.

In all of the 5 or six comfortable positions I usually use in a hammock to sleep, I have found that my foot is pushed one way or the other. And pushing my foot in a twisting motion and then keeping it in that position still hurts. I can partly overcome those problems by using a bag of clothes as a small pillow to lift the foot so that it neither is twisted, bent, or dangled, but it is a bit complicated to set that up, and staying in one position for long with my leg in its present state of healing causes me cramps...

So I am reduced, for the car camping episode this coming week, to sleep flat on the not so flat surface of the earth. I can't believe it is happening to me. Pray for my sanity. Maybe I will still dream of swinging free of the roots and stones of the ground.

I hope that in a week or two the bones will be knit together well enough to allow me to sleep in the hammock once again.

Ground Sleeper (Prov)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Foiled in the 100 Mile Wilderness

It's been 10 days and I am beginning to feel OK about it.

On Monday, July 3rd, I left Dayton and drove to central Maine. In the back of the pick-up was my GS450, strapped in and ready to roll.

I dropped the truck off on Tuesday morning at Abol Bridge in the shadow of Mt Kathadin and drove my bike 90 miles to Monson, Maine. I arranged to keep the bike there for about a week and entered the 100 mile wilderness, headed north with 6 days of food.

It rained on my trip down to Monson, hard thunder storms with lots of lightning. It dried out for a bit in Monson, but began sprinkling sometime after 6 PM and rained on and off until I reached the Wilson Stream lean-to at dark.

The night of the 4th was brilliant with the Creator's own fireworks, and I enjoyed them very much with about 8 others at the shelter.

The next morning, I set off for about 15 miles of hiking in the wet woods. I was a little disgrunteld that the trails had not been recently maintained and the bushes on both sides of the trail crossed and linked branches, giving only scant views of the roots and puddles on the trail.

About 4 miles into the day's walk, I fell down a 10 foot boulder and heard a bone in my left leg crack. That was not good.

It hurt too.

I unbent all my legs and found that there were no bones sticking out through the skin. That was great news. THe ankle was not badly strained and when I tried to put weight on my leg, I could limp pretty well. I had to be very careful with each step, because the outside of the leg, where my fibula is, was very tender and I could feel some movement of bones in that lateral part of the leg.

I walked about 2 miles to a cross connecting gravel road that showed on the AT map, and which connected with a road that headed back to Monson. I walked about 3 miles on that gravel road and was able to get a ride back the rest of the way to Monson.

Though things hurt pretty well, I was able to ride the bike and return to Abol Bridge and then (because the truck is an automatic) I was able to drive. I drove to Augusta
that evening and get a motel room and a very long day of driving on Thursday got me back to Dayton in time to watch the midnight news.

The next morning I went to the hospital and the xray showed an isolated spiral fracture of the fibula. The mechanism of my injury was likely that while I was falling, my foot turned out and then my knee rode up and over the foot, twisting the ankle like a twistie tie. My knee hurt some as well, but all the injury to the knee seemed to be involved with the exterior ligaments on the medial side of the left knee.

I was able to persuade the docs to give me a brace instead of a cast and here 10 days later the fracture is beginning to feel OK. It has sure ached a lot in the meantime.

I am looking forward to getting back on the bike in a week or so and back to hiking in about a month.

Such is life....