Friday, December 4, 2009

Sweetwater Trail Drama

As the trail approached the crest of a low, rocky hill, I caught sight of a biker sprawled trailside, talking on his cell phone. It wasn't until I pulled alongside that I had the what's-wrong-with-this-picture moment; he was pale and grimacing, and his right leg was turned at an unnatural angle. He (Ron) was talking with the 911 operator.

I went back to the trailhead to meet the paramedics. In a few minutes--less than the ten predicted by 911--a Northwest fire truck, ambulance and rescue truck rolled up. I gave the medics directions, and they hiked out. They didn't need much more than "south, sharp left, up the hill, near the top" since several of them ride the trail.

Just then Ron's wife Sharon arrived. She's also a mountain biker, and knew exactly where Ron had fallen. "Fallen" rather than "crashed," because it appeared that Ron went down in a turn as opposed to careening off the trail. I felt an additional pang of sympathy for the guy--he got a broken leg and no wild tale to go with it.

When I found Ron, I was on what I had decided was my final loop. Today was my first time at Sweetwater, and I wasn't getting much of a workout. The trail meanders through beautiful desert terrain, but there are no sustained climbs, and the turns and slight techy features are enough to keep somebody like me from really putting the hammer down.

I was idling around the trailhead when two more vehicles arrived. A bunch of rescue guys hopped out and assembled an offroad stretcher equipped with a big balloon tire. I walked them up the hill, where the medics had splinted Ron's leg. Sharon, marvelously calm, asked me to ride Ron's bike back to the trailhead. Woo-hoo, my first dual suspension ride! though I was superstitiously careful on the half-mile ride down, not wanting to make additional work for the medics.

When Sharon, Ron and the gaggle of rescuers returned, I loaded Ron's bike into the back of their van, while the crew loaded Ron into the ambulance for the trip to Northwest Medical Center. As we parted, Sharon said, "Well, I hope you were on your way back," so that Ron's emergency didn't cut short my ride. Couldn't help but smile. Speedy recovery, Ron, or Sharon will take your bike!

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