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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
Wednesday, August 28
A Ghost Town, A Dug-out Canoe, A Birthday and A Compound Fracture
Yes, it’s been an interesting two days. We finally left the Birch Creek center around 2 in the afternoon and drove to the Clark Canyon Reservoir. I, for one, thought it was a beautiful campsite, if only for the mountains surrounding us and the sunset Ma Nature provided us, but I think everyone else was a little disappointed. The reservoir used to be huge and beautiful, but four years of drought has left the water levels at only 10%. There are vast stretches of mud flats and grassy fields where the water once was. Our guide for the evening was a Lewis and Clark re-enactor named Stephen, and his knowledge of the area and of the two adventurers was staggering. He said that in the history of the reservoir it had never been so low.

So it is late afternoon by the time we set up camp, and the angry clouds to our southeast thankfully decided to pass us by. I had jumped into the tech trailer to email one of my brothers when Charlie stuck his head in the door and said, “We need an EMT”. Every other time he’s said that, someone’s needed hand lotion or at best an advil, so hopped out and said “What do you need?” and he said “There’s been a motorcycle accident at the next site”. Whoa. The next hour is a bit of a blur but two guys on motorbikes, who we had seen whipping around the campground, had collided, seemingly at full speed. When I got over there, one guy, Mike, was sprawled on top of his bike and the other, Tyler, was in a fetal position, screaming. Long story short… it took the ambulances just over 20 minutes to get there, and by the time they did, myself, the county sheriff, and Stephen the re-enactor were working on both of them. Mike had an angulated closed fracture of his wrist, and had lost consciousness upon impact. Tyler had a compound fracture of his right femur. Both were howling in pain, and Mike was having a hard time staying conscious. Tyler, a lad of 20, had a skater haircut- long on top, shaved all around- and a few tattoos and piercings. And big, blue, terrified eyes. He was actually extremely lucky. A longbone fracture, particularly one in the leg, often hits a major artery. But his bleeding was slow and dark, rather than spurting and red, so his bleeding was venous. This might be more information than anyone wants but all I could think of that night was how lucky he was to only have hit a vein. Had he hit an artery, and had his friend stayed unconscious, and had we not been there, he could have bled out. A lot of “ifs”, but still.

So the Dillon EMS finally got there, having had to drive more than 20 miles, and took over the scene. They made a lot of choices that I personally would not have, that run contrary to what we are taught to do in New York. But I just stayed with Tyler, since he was in a lot more trouble than Mike, talking him through the pain, stroking his hair, telling him that he was doing great. And he was. He was starting to go into shock by the time he was loaded into the ambulance but the whole time he stayed alert and mostly calm and tried very hard to follow our directions… don’t move your head, breathe deeply, don’t twist your spine. Finally they got both of them loaded into the ambulances and I had to let go of the situation. I’m tempted to call the hospital in Dillon to find out how they are, but that would require a phone. And once again, we are in the middle of nowhere. I hope they are doing as well as possible.

After that excitement, I was a little worn out, but the evening was still young. Stephen (the re-enactor) had a Lewis and Clark presentation for us, starting with the point in the journey where they reached what was now the Clark Canyon Reservoir- right where we were standing. He had all kinds of relics and reproductions of items the Corps of Discovery might have used, and he was incredibly informed about the journey itself, filled with details that even the journals don’t contain. He had gleaned information from letters and journals from infantrymen and others and had filled in many holes. After the presentation, I chatted with him about his interests and also asked him if he was a certified first responder or something like that, since he seemed to know what he was doing when we were working on the motorbike crash. He said he was a medic in Vietnam, and that the crash “brought back some memories (he’d) like to forget”. Yeesh. This guy knows a heck of a lot more about field medicine than I do. These are the moments that humble me beyond measure. It was like asking Robert DeNiro if he had ever had an Acting 101 class. Anyway.

The next morning the trekkers paddled across the reservoir in Stephen’s authentic dugout canoe. The canoe weighed about 1500 pounds before it was wet, and during the night had soaked in about another 500 pounds. It only took about an hour and a half, and the support team met them on the other side with their ATVs. Two miles in a canoe, 83 miles on ATVs. Long day. But the support team got to paddle the canoe back to the other side of the lake where Stephen’s trailer was waiting. It was great fun, although it was definitely work paddling the 2000-pound canoe through the reservoir. Halfway through, Stephen spotted a bald eagle when it was nothing more than a blip on a cliff. We paddled closer and closer and soon got a terrific silhouette of the great bird against the bright morning clouds. It was a little scary in the canoe; if shifted your weight at all it would wobble from side to side, the water inches away from spilling over. You simply had to keep paddling to make sure you stayed in, and the water stayed out.

After reaching shore and breaking camp, the support team split up. Some went ahead to the next campsite and the rest of us went to an old mining town called Bannack. It is a ghost town, and the people who have saved adhere to the idea of “arrested decay”. They do not rebuild, they maintain, although a few of the buildings (including the Masonic Lodge) have been restored to their original state. It was really interesting walking down what once was a bustling main street, imagining the miners and bankers and "women of ill repute" living their daily lives. My favorite part was Hotel Meade, which had some of the original stoves from the 1880s and a huge, winding, wrap-around staircase into the entryway. It’s rooms were tiny, with tall ceilings and falling plaster, but the ballroom and dining room were cavernous.

We left Bannack, went to Dillon to provision, and then began the long, dusty ride to last night’s camp. We are now at the Middlefork Trailhead, I think, again in an undeveloped site. But yesterday was Rob’s birthday, so along with dinner we had birthday cake and we hung out listening to music and laughing in the RV as a rainstorm thundered overhead. Today the trekkers are again on horseback, and the support team is packing up to move to Shineberger campground. And it is cold, cold, cold.

I know these entries are long, but when so much cool stuff happens, what’s a girl to do?

for Wednesday, August 28
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
No rest for the wicked-- Michelle Williams spends a day at the office, typing up journal entries for the trekkers

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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 19
Michelle Williams
Back on the Green River
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Tuesday, September 17
Michelle Williams
Two Days In A Canoe
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Monday, September 16
Michelle Williams
Jammie Pants and a Wood Cabin
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Saturday, September 14
Michelle Williams
Wild Horses!
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Friday, September 13
Michelle Williams
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Tuesday, September 10
Michelle Williams
Reflections, September 10, 2002
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Sunday, September 8
Michelle Williams
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Saturday, September 7
Michelle Williams
Saturday Night Near Jackson Hole
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Thursday, September 5
Michelle Williams
Yellowstone
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Wednesday, September 4
Michelle Williams
Is it Wednesday?
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Sunday, September 1
Michelle Williams
Fall In Idaho
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Saturday, August 31
Michelle Williams
Saturday Morning, Day 32
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Thursday, August 29
Michelle Williams
Hump Day
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Wednesday, August 28
Michelle Williams
A Ghost Town, A Dug-out Canoe, A Birthday and A Compound Fracture
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Monday, August 26
Michelle Williams
Oh, Happy Day
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Sunday, August 25
Michelle Williams
Sunday, August 25th
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Saturday, August 24
Michelle Williams
A Better Day Already
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Friday, August 23
Michelle Williams
A Challenging Day
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Wednesday, August 21
Michelle Williams
Wednesday, August 21
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Tuesday, August 20
Michelle Williams
Tuesday, August 20
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Monday, August 19
Michelle Williams
Monday, August 19
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Sunday, August 18
Michelle Williams
Easy Like...
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
More on Saturday, August 17th
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
Saturday, August 17th
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Thursday, August 15
Michelle Williams
Thursday, August 15th
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Wednesday, August 14
Michelle Williams
My Top Ten List
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Tuesday, August 13
Michelle Williams
Freezing and Fires
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Monday, August 12
Michelle Williams
Explore the River
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Saturday, August 10
Michelle Williams
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Friday, August 9
Michelle Williams
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Thursday, August 8
Michelle Williams
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