Responding First

It’s been quite a week.

I was ice-climbing in Vermont and fell on my ice-pick, resulting in a pneumothorax.

I was mountain biking in Utah, acquired a head injury when I crashed, and then fractured my wrist.

I was horseback-riding in West Virginia when my loyal steed, Mr. Bojangles bucked me off, leaving a nasty bruise below my sternum and a twisted ankle.

JUST KIDDING… sort of.*

leg
This is not real!

Back in October, I decided to sign up for a Wilderness First Responder course. For the past 10 days, I have spent countless hours learning how to provide medical care in the backcountry. It’s involved an inordinate amount of book-learning and countless real-world scenarios. I can confidently reduce an anterior shoulder dislocation, splint a wrist using a jacket, and treat high altitude cerebral edema. I brushed up on my CPR skills, learned about handling snake bites, and acquired a ton of other medical knowledge/skills.

The course was intense, but invaluable. Who knows when I’ll need to help out a fellow outdoor enthusiast during the second part of my trip? Who knows when I’ll need to provide skilled assistance to someone in an urban setting? Who knows when I’ll have to practice on myself?

actvar
Snapping a quick selfie with my CPR buddy, Actar

* I am, in fact, completely kidding. In the scenarios we acted out during the course, however, I played the patient who had all of these crazy, and unlucky, experiences.

Bad Snow and Bear Spray

20161219_124853
The first run of the day  (before the snow turned evil)

There were simply too many people.

I had woken up early, hoping to hit the slopes before the crowds moved in, but unfortunately, other families had similar ideas. The snow was a granulated mush, making snowboarding more vexing than usual. Bald patches of earth peeked through, and after a couple hours, the snow had taken on a dirty-brown tint.

I was frustrated. In my opinion, enjoying nature goes hand in hand with getting-away-from-it-all, a nearly impossible task in the Northern Virginia area. I tried to enjoy the sunshine and crisp air as I made one last run down the mountain, avoiding fallen children and gangs of college kids.

bear-spray

For Christmas, I unwrapped a can of bear spray – a pleasant reminder that I have much more of the country to explore and many more parks to discover. For those of you who aren’t entirely bear-literate, here’s an important fact: American bears (commonly referred to as black bears) are much less aggressive than their grizzly bear cousins. So far, I haven’t ventured too far into grizzly territory, but during the second part of my trip, I know I need to be prepared.

And that means it’s time to start planning, yes? I ordered a 2017 calendar online today, ready to map my route, figure out the order, and determine which adventures I want to have.

Of course, I’ll have to leave room for some surprises!