What Could Go Wrong?

posted Apr 19, 2016, 3:20 PM by Paul Wagner
But the terrain was really rough...and covered in poison oak. ©http://ba​ckpackthes​ierra.com

On our trip to Preston Falls this spring, we spent about an hour or so trying explore the Tuolumne River above the falls--a section that is rocky, steep, and covered in poison oak.  But we thought if we could just get past that tough section, there might be a mile or more of river to explore. 

Of course, there's a reason that the trail stops where it does.  Beyond the falls is rocky, steep...well, you get the idea. You can see some of this in the photo above.

As usual when we explore, P led the way.  As he found a route, M would follow and look for even easier paths to follow.  But there came a point where P gave up. He was surrounded by clouds of poison oak, and hopping from one large chunk of granite to the next with a full pack on.  Ooof.

So we turned around.  And as we worked our way back to the trail, P thought he might climb up a little higher to see if he could catch sight of what we were missing upstream.  He couldn't. 

But as he worked his way back down the ridge of rock, one of the big boulders he stepped suddenly shifted underneath him, and seemed like it might roll down the hill.

He leaped clear of that, trying to also avoid poison oak on all sides, he landed, hard, on both feet and grabbed another boulder with both hands.  His left knee gave him a twinge, but what really worried him was the pain in his right ankle.  That ankle bent at an awkward angle on landing, and now something was feeling not quite right.  

He flexed the ankle, and felt a further twinge of pain.  hmmm.  He stepped gingerly on it, and it seemed fine.  He took a few steps, and was relieved to find that he could walk without too much pain. 

The good news?  He walked 3.5 miles back to the car without too much discomfort.  And if he really had damaged his ankle, we had enough gear to be safe, sound, and well fed for 24 hours.  

The bad news?  Two days later, his ankle is swollen and discolored.  He won't be available for swimsuit photos for a few weeks.