Friends, yesterday was a difficult one. I’ve read about Search and Rescue stories online but never thought I’d be a part of one.
On our way down from Lake Serene our friend slipped on a wet rock and broke her ankle about 3 miles from the trailhead. I turned my phone on and luckily had full coverage and called 911 around 3 pm. About 2 hours later Snohomish County Fire and EMT met us on the trail along with a team of Snohomish Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers. 16 people in total. They were literal heroes, selflessly putting their lives on the line to help our injured friend off the trail.
By 9:30 pm we were safely back to the trailhead and off to the Emergency Room. This was a true lesson in the importance of carrying the 10 Essentials on EVERY. SINGLE.HIKE. After 4 years of hiking the trails here in Washington, I’ve learned many lessons, and the most important is even if you’re going for a day hike, pack as if you may need to spend the night.
As my husband and I still are processing what happened yesterday, there are several things we are grateful for:
1. FULL CELL PHONE SERVICE. If there had been no service, we had 2 Garmin inreach’s we could have used but SAR response wouldn’t have been as quick. We were also able to text responders a google pin to our location.
2. OUR SIT PADS. 911 told us to put something under her so her heat didn’t escape from the cold wet ground. We had 3 sit pads and placed those underneath her so she didn’t get cold or wet from the ground.
3. EXTRA LAYERS. We packed more layers than needed, including extra socks. With our extra clothes, we covered her to keep her warm.
4. EMERGENCY BLANKET. We used our e blanket to help keep our friend warm as we waited 2+ hours for most the help to arrive.
5. HEADLAMPS. While we didn’t need them and got back to the trailhead with the last sliver of light, .had we had to wait any longer for help, we would have been hiking out in the dark.
6. HAND WARMERS AND GLOVES. While the weather didn’t call for it to be super cold this day, I had packed a pair of hand warmers that we opened up and she could use for heat.
7. EXTRA WATER AND FOOD. I had packed almost 3L of water for a 10 mile hike and had a water filter with us as well. We were on the trail hours more than what we thought, so having that extra water and food was critical.
8. BATTERY CHARGER. Our friend’s phone had died so as she was being carried off the mountain, I was able to recharge her cell phone. Mine was on airplane mode most the hike so I had about 78% battery when I called 911. I can’t imagine only having 1-2% charge left and getting into an emergency.
9. FIRST AID KIT. We were able to give her ibuprofen and Tylenol for the pain. We were getting ready to splint her ankle with tape but the injury was too intense to be able to do that.
10. LIGHTER AND FIRE STARTER. I’m glad the injury happened earlier rather than later. If we had to wait through the night, at least we could have possibly made a small fire for warmth.
11. AN ICE PACK. Something I don’t think I’ve ever brought on the trail but, this day we had randomly put a small ice pack in our lunchbox with our sandwiches. We were able to use the ice pack to put on her ankle to help with swelling.
12. EVERYONE ON THE TRAIL. Almost everyone stopped and asked if they could help or if we needed anything. We talked to an ED nurse and many people who were willing to offer their assistance. Thank you to all these people for being kind and patient. And thank you to the WTA crew of 3 who were on the trail that day clearing trees.
Friends, emergencies can happen to any one of us and anywhere. Please use this as a reminder of why each of us need to be overly prepared when we hit the trails. I cringe at all those times I have gone out on the trail much less prepared and am thankful I can pass this experience on to others. If I can help at least one person be more prepared on the trail by sharing this experience, this post is worth it.
We are SO incredibly grateful for the 16 Snohomish search and rescue volunteers and the fire department who assisted in the rescue. Each one of them are heroes and we are so incredibly appreciative.
Credit: Thank you K. Nicole for sharing your story and photography