Broken Trip

It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-- Thomas Jefferson

Well, I'm back from my backpacking trip, and let's just say it's the, hm, shortest backpacking trip ever conceived. I'll present the story in chronological order, from my point of view, day by day, blow by blow.

April 23, 2002:

My alarm clock doesn't go off this morning because I don't have any stringent timing planned; rather, I've given myself only one task for the day: get myself to Santa Barbara in one piece. Admittedly, my car needs an oil change, and I will try to get that done before I leave San Diego, but I'm not too worried about it. I'd much rather avoid rush hour in LA.

I throw all my gear in my pack, and get out the door around 10:00 in the morning. I've also got my dulcimer, since I'm getting better at it, and I want to show off in SB. I stop by the lab, copy down some phone numbers and check my e-mail one last time, and then I'm off for the Los Padres national forest, and some (hopefully) wonderful down time and a chance to see Tad, who went to UCSB with me, and a friend of his named Rob.

The drive up to SB was a breeze, taking a little less than three hours. Which leaves me around seven hours until the guys get down here from Livermore, and around four hours until Eric finishes work for the day (Eric is another friend from undergrad days, and he lives in SB now. Hi, Eric!) So, I go to Folk Mote Music, and pick up a replacement string for my dulcimer, and then go to campus to visit a few people. Specifically, I stop in on Leslie, The CCS undergraduate coordinator, and Leslie, my independant study composition instructor. And we have a nice visit.

After that (4:30 now), I only have an hour and a half to waste before Eric gets off work. So, I go to the beach, get out my dulcimer, and try to replace its string. The replacement snaps in the process, so I now have an F course that's short a string. It still plays, but I don't think it sounds right.

Finally, I meet up with Eric at his place. We then meet up with various others at Kyoto, which is arguably the best Japanese resturaunt in SB. After the meal, Tad and Rob call my cell and say they're almost here, and wonder where we should meet. I suggest FT, since they're driving down a car for Tad's sister, Sarah, who is an freshman at UCSB this year and living in the two towers that make hell sound like a pleasent alternative.

So, we pick up Tad and Rob, say hi to Sarah, and retreat to Eric's to play hearts until we all decide it's bed time.

April 24, 2002:

Waking up Tad is always a fun chore; you think you have him up, and he looks at you kind of funny, then rolls over, and -- get this -- forgets he saw you in the first place. He even forgets that you woke him up. It's incredible. After we get him up, Rob, Tad and I (from now refered to as the Accidentals) head over to the Forest service office to get maps, permits and hike suggestions. We finally settle on the Santa Cruz trail, although we peg Indian Creek as a possible backup.

By this point, it's 11:00, and we're due for lunch at In-n-out with Tad's sister and Eric. We meet them there, and after lunch, take a few pretrip photos of the intrepid crew.

Next, we obtain food, and fuel for Rob's stove. After all of that, we start off for the trail head. To get there, we have to drive my poor, fully-loaded car up over San Marcos pass, and down the other side. From there, it's a right on Paradise Road, and a few miles to go.

Our first stop is at the Ranger Station, which we find out is closed when we get there. Fortunately, we did find a helpful ranger outside, who answered our water questions. For our original plan, we had a 50/50 chance of finding water in one particular spring we would have depended on for the hike. Indian Creek was fine, though.

So, we decided that we would hike up to the spring, and check out the water situation there (it was out 2 days, but we could get back in one if we had to) before deciding which way to go. True, it shortens our distance out, but we were ready to make that sacrafice.

At this point, Tad came up with a brilliant idea: since our first day on the trail was only a mile or so over relatively flat land, why didn't we go spend some time out at Red Rock and do some swimming? It would feel great. Rob and I thought about it, and it did sound like a wonderful plan.

And then we approached the first ford. On Paradise Road, there's a couple of places where it dips slightly below the current waterline in the creek it is beside (2 inches or so). Now, my car is low to begin with, and with our gear and us in it, it's even lower. (Not lowrider low, but low enough to worry about 6 or 7 inches of water.) Tad hops out of the car and walks down to the creek, and wades across to check the depth. On his way back up, he half-slips, steadies himself, and says, "Wow. That's slippery. I'll have to be careful next time."

Well, at the next ford (around 50 meters from the Red Rock trailhead, BTW), Tad jumps out of the car, and trots down to the water. Just before getting to it, his left foot hit a patch of algae, and the next thing I know, I feel like I'm watching Wiley Coyote hit a banana peel in a Road Runner cartoon. Tad slips, breifly hovers horizontal above the ground, and then lands like a bag of wet cement on his right hip and right elbow.

As both Rob and I call down to him to see if he's OK, Tad gets up and proceeds to hobble around a little. So, I park my car, and Rob and I start down to see if he's OK. As we approach, Tad states he would like some ibuprofin, some water, and a cold handkercheif. Seeing as Rob is closer to the car, I toss my keys to him. Or rather, I toss them into a tree, where they proceed to get stuck 15 feet in the air. So, Rob and I spend about 5 minutes throwing rocks at them until they come back to earth. We get Tad his stuff, and then get back into the car for the drive back to Goleta, as Tad is complaining about pain whenever he tries to move his arm.

It takes them a little over half an hour to admit Tad to the Goleta Valley emergency room. So, after he gets admitted, Rob and I leave a copy of the phone list with him, and go get some food. Specifically, we go to Hamburger Habit, have some burgers and swap stories. I call Eric's place on my phone, and talk to him about our staying there a little while longer. I also call Sarah and tell her what happened.

Five hours or so after he is admitted, the emergency room releases him, his arm now in a splint, and surgery on our schedule for the next day. Tad broke his arm too close to the elbow, and it will require surgery to heal at all. We're told that the surgeon will call him in the morning to schedule, and that we can expect his call in the morning.

So, we retreat to Erics, where Tad chows down on some left over pizza. And, since Eric has to work the next day, we go to bed early, for once.

Seeing as I started this in May, and it's now June, I'll finish this later, and write another small item now.

Brian Naberhuis