Latest Tales from the Tinman -2021


Email Contact: tinknees@charter.net

Living in an Age of Stupidity: "Let's Go Brandon"

Like last year, I just did what I wanted in the mountains, but thanks to black-ice on our driveway in early April I slipped and came crashing down on my butt, broke a toe, chipped an ankle bone, but thankfully didn’t hit my head.  Went into the Golden Trout Wilderness with Carla, and her friend Chris, in early May.  Apart from little or no water, Carla and Chris carried most of my heavy pack just to get me out.  Had some Chiro adjustments to my lower back, which worked, so back into the Sierras in mid -June, over Mono Pass and down Mono Creek to VVR – to check on the fire damage from the Creek Fire.  Even though Jim Clements has sold VVR, he was still there doing a handover.  I’ve known Jim for 20 years and his stories of how he and others saved VVR from the flames was incredible.  Anyway, I had hiked in for three days, planning on a day off at VVR, resupply, and hike back out to my vehicle at Mosquito Flat.  Problem was, on my day off at VVR, my lower back locked up, and realized that I couldn’t backpack out to my vehicle at Mosquito Flat – consuming eight Advils every 12 hours.

Should have called in a helicopter lift from VVR to my vehicle (22-air miles), and paid the cost, but Jim offered a ride by road from VVR to Fresno, north through Yosemite, down past Mammoth to his home at Crowley Lake. Took ten hours of agony.  Dropped me, and a half-blind Sikh (Bruce) and his Guide Dog (Wookie) at my vehicle.  Bruce, like all Indian families has Uncles everywhere, so the three of us stayed in great comfort at a residence in Mammoth.  Wookie had guided Bruce for 100-miles on the JMT, from Kearsarge to VVR and his front right leg was in pain (limping on arrival at VVR)

 

 

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Back in Reno, a month later, in agony, I had Chiro adjustments that reduced the pain but didn’t fix the underlying problem, so I had X-Rays and MRI images taken.  Discovered I had a compressed fracture at L2.  Oddly enough, the lower back pain was very mild, but knew that the real problem had to be fixed before I could be out there backpacking again.  Once I knew the extent of the problem I’d faced after the fall, it became obvious why the extreme pain issues developed while backpacking but were absent on day hikes and general moving around at home.  My 30-pound backpack was compressing the fracture, particularly downhill, followed by inflammation around the affected region that led to further days of pain.  Thanks to the Fates I’m living in the USA, in Reno/Tahoe, a center for dealing with all the accidents on the many ski-fields in the area, a highly specialized Spinal Surgeon fixed my problem on August 23rd – a one hour operation that could have me back in the mountains with a backpack within three weeks.  Amazing technique:  drill a small hole above the L2, push in a straw-like tube with a balloon on the end, blow up the balloon which opens the vertebrae, squirt in a thick fluid that hardens like cement, collapse the balloon, pull out the straw, put a band aid on the hole – and the job's finished – and my lower back pain was gone.  Medical Magic!

 

 

 

By Vehicle, Back to VVR - My Latest Backpacking Base

 

I began planning how to maximize being out there again before Fall/Winter set in but allowing a period of healing from the operation.  The result was a schedule that had me based at VVR. Why did I drive all the way around the High Sierra to get to VVR?  After being caught on the wrong side of the high eastern Passes, like the 12,000’ Mono, I figured that if I began my hikes from VVR, I wouldn’t be trapped in the event of further back problems or early snow, I’d have my 4WD 4-Runner at VVR to escape.  The concept was good but began having misgivings about my cavalier approach to backpacking too soon after the operation.  The final result was limited by what I did attempt, however there are amazing adventure stories associated with what I did, and who I did it with – a 76-year-old Triple Crown Thru-hiker!  My final trip into Miter Basin was cut short by snowfall at #2 Lake, and low temperatures!

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