Friday, October 12, 2012

Owyhee Desert pt. 1

Two friends and I attempted the portion of the ICT from the Nevada Border to Winter Camp on June, 17, 2012 with mountain bikes.  We were all in pretty good shape, and had prepared and coordinated our work schedules for this day months in advance.  I guess we couldn’t prepare for the 1st triple digit degree temperature of the year.  Although we made it to Poison creek with ease and knew prior to arriving that there probably wouldn’t be any water, it was still a kick to the gut when our assumptions were confirmed.  It was a few miles north of this, that one friend began to slow down, and take a lot of long breaks.  When we got to the cut off road to the Bruneau River, we knew that he was going downhill quickly, and that he was probably going to need medical intervention.  My other friend rode on, in hope to find our support team who was at Winter Camp.  I stayed with my sick friend and urged him to go on as I attempted to get to a location with cell service.  15 miles from Winter Camp, I was able to get a text message to my wife, but not my support team.  10 miles from Winter Camp, my friend collapsed with heat exhaustion.   I had brought my work radio, and was able to communicate with Elmore County Dispatch.  I relayed my urgent situation and our GPS grids to them.  I stood in the blazing heat acting as an umbrella while sprinkling my remaining water on my sick friend for 90 minutes until Life Flight arrived.  My father-n-law arrived on his motorcycle around the same time as Life Flight.  He gave me much needed water and took my sick friend’s bike back to Winter Camp.  My sick friend started losing feeling in his extremities, and went into heat stroke minutes before Life Flight landed.  I now had to continue my trip and try to catch up to my other friend.  I met up with him on the west side of Winter Camp Canyon, just in time for me to start suffering from the effects of heat exhaustion.  We rode through the canyon at an incredible slow pace, until the both of us came upon a rattle snake in the middle of the trail.  My senses were probably only at 50% and I only saw a dark blur and heard only a faint rattle, before I was right on top of it.  My friend was able to maneuver away, but not before he witnessed the snake strike and bite the frame of my bike.  I received a surge of energy and sped to the base of the east grade of the Winter Camp Canyon.  I couldn’t ride or push my bike up the 200 yard long grade.  Half an hour later, I got to the top and met the rest of my support team.  I started to vomit uncontrollably and had horrendous body aches.   They rushed me back to my wife who is a nurse and (pardon the pun) nursed me back to health over the next few days.  My sick friend actually recovered faster than I did, but my medical bill was $30,000 less than his.  Come to find out, he had just recovered from the flu and an 8 pound weight loss the week before.  We found out the hard way that this portion of the trail shouldn’t be attempted after the first of June through the end of September without an immediate support team.  Also, I cannot stress enough the importance to pre-hydrate the day before your trip and the need to bring PLENTY of water with you!  As for the trail itself, It was well marked, except for the mile right after the Poison Creek crossing, which added another two miles to our trip.  During our ride, I would say that only 20% of it was mostly smooth compacted dirt, while the rest of the trail was both very rocky and bumpy or 4” of fine dust.  For the most part, this portion of the trail wasn’t fun at all.  We did see plenty of cows and antelope, in which we almost ran over 2 fawns that were bedded down on the trail.  Good luck and be safe out there!

1 comment:

Ron said...

you are correct, this is a very challenging waterless 50 mile stretch. my friend and I did it in March of 2005. congrats on finishing it, sorry it was such a rough ordeal. Ron