Sandals recounts what happened before Manynames Tom found her lying alongside the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mojave Desert.
About 7 pm, Manynames Tom came by and called Pete to let him know he was with me. Tom essentially spent the night taking care of me. The plan was that if I were not better by morning and able to hike out, we would call for help.
In the morning I was even weaker, now barely able to move. Tom tried to call 911, but lost service with only a partial message being transmitted. He hiked 2 miles down and back and brought me water…in the meantime, Marmot appeared and stayed with me while Tom THEN hiked down to the road to be certain of getting help.
Rescue was able to get a 4 wheel drive in, and I was taken down the mountain and transferred to an ambulance. The initial treatment was given at Tehachapi hospital. I thought that I just needed fluids and would be fine, but after 5 liters plus high doses of a drug to raise blood pressure, I just kept deteriorating and about 7 pm, I was emergency airlifted to a larger hospital in Bakersfield. At Bakersfield, I spent 5 hours being stabilized in the ER, and then was transferred to the intensive care unit, where I spent a total of 4 days.
It was finally determined that I had septic shock, a severe infection throughout my whole body, that was made worse by the dehydration. The source of the infection was probably a quarter sized blister on my right heel that didn’t look any worse than anyone else’s blisters–in fact, it looked better than most except for a slight red. I HAD lanced it and dressed it, and in the desert, it looked OK, but over the first 5 days of being in the hospital, it blossomed into a 2 x 3 inch lesion with red swollen areas up into my ankle. The cultures came back as a Staph infection and I had to have some areas of dead and dying skin removed. As far as it getting into the bloodstream–I guess I’m just one of those unlucky statistics.
Read the whole post for Sandals’ top 10 reasons for and against being rescued from the trail.
Occurs to me there are times when that whole “I enjoy the solitude of hiking” is less appealing — like when you’re flat on your back in the desert and your entire body is infected.