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Maineiac64
09-04-2016, 10:25
Last weekend I took a bad fall crossing a river on the Jack's River Trail in the Cohutta in Georgia. I slipped and fell hitting my hand on a rock, I was convinced it was broken but turned out to be a bad sprain of my wrist. Although we had planned to camp that night, we decided to hike all the way out since setting up and breaking down would be miserable.

It made me curious to the injuries that people have encountered on the trail and how they were dealt with in the back country.

Teacher & Snacktime
09-04-2016, 11:40
I just experienced my most delightful injury to date a couple of weeks ago. Returning to the trailhead parking lot in Rangeley from the Piazza Rock Lean-to, on my FIRST solo jaunt, (a whopping 1.8 mi) there were many log bridges spanning muddy areas. These were cut flat, two logs side by side, and made for easy travel....mostly. Moving at what I thought was a nice clip along one of these bridges my right foot slipped between the two logs and lodged itself. Momentum carried me forward and somehow I flipped around, landing on my back on the ground below the bridge. Unfortunately my foot was still lodged between the logs above me at a full 180* angle. Not fun. There was no extricating my foot from its complete encasement or even shifting the angle to reduce some of the strain (and pain) of pulling muscles and ligaments....at least not from my position in the mud, and any attempt to move was understandably excruciating. I tried calling for help; I tried issuing a blood-curdling scream. Neither elicited even an echo in the dense woods.

After a few minutes, the pain just "went away", and somehow I rolled up and over in one motion until I was laying face down on the log bridge. (This was the true miracle of the event, as I'm neither agile nor flexible, nor lightweight, nor strong). I got to my knees, straightened the angle of my leg, and pulled my foot out. A quick and ginger assessment indicated no obvious break or dislocation, so I put my shoe back on and finished my hike back to the car.

I assume it was adrenaline that kept the pain at bay for the next 0.3 mi until I was safely back to my vehicle, and for that I was quite grateful. I didn't delude myself that damage wasn't done of course, but it could be dealt with when I got home. A quick six hour drive later I was carried into the house.

A trip to the ER the next day confirmed no serious injury and I was sent on my way with a soft cast, braces, bandages and crutches and strict instructions to stay off it for 2 weeks. So of course, 11 days later I was hiking (slowly and carefully) from Caratunk toward Pierce Pond to meet up with my buds, Rain Man and Mama Bear.

MuddyWaters
09-04-2016, 12:28
Tendonitis
Itb band flareup
Tibia stress fracture

You do what you can
Eat a lot of ibuprofen and keep walking to next town, albeit slower
Running short on ibuprofen is bad news.
Impretty light, but people that bring 3 ibuprofen are stupid.
If you get injured, 10 or so per day for 3-4 day is what can be needed to keep limping down the trail. Been there. Figure 2 every 3 hrs to keep going. I carry 50 now, doesnt weigh enough to matter. Can truthfully be difference between walking out and needing rescue.

With the tibial fracture, once I stopped walking, a day later couldnt walk 100ft . was in walking boot for 4 weeks after, but on trail I walked 30+ miles that way over a couple days.

Engine
09-04-2016, 13:12
Suffered nerve damage to my right anterior quaricep from a far too heavy pack. This took place over 20 years ago and I still occasionally experience numbness...

Malto
09-04-2016, 13:33
Dislocated shoulder from slipping on snow bank and falling directly back on my pack. Thankfully I was hiking with someone that pulled it back in place. I dislocated both shoulders about a week apart in separate incidents, both involving falling on my pack. I believe it was serious muscle loss after 1000 miles that contributed to both of them.

BonBon
09-04-2016, 14:58
I fell a lot- severely sprained an ankle, severe bruises etc-cut my hand enough that fat blobs poked out, but by far my worst injury was from the lightning strike on Mt Killington. I had blistering burns everywhere my pack made contact with my body (assuming because of the metal frame) , capillary flowering on my upper torso, ankles and calfs, and severely ringing ears (for months) as well as mild shock for a few days. Did NOT hike through storms after that and have been quite overtaken by a gratitude that has enriched my life. Net win.

Dogwood
09-04-2016, 15:26
Good question. Perhaps, it can shed light also on how people have overcome these injuries without having to quit their hikes.

Although not what you're referring to by injury by far the greatest injury I brought to the trail was "stinking thinking." I would let my thought life, my self talk, what I was meditating on fall into greater and greater levels of negativity. I complacently ignorantly allowed my thought life to focus on the negative or going in a direction I knew was not going to assist in achieving goals enlarging the negative until it crowded out the abundant positives. I delved into a place of ingratitude. I became aware of what I had read that encouraged one to "renew your mind' and "guard your heart." WHY, because regular thoughts often turn into actions/behavior. By consistently letting our minds focus on why this sucks or why we should quit/ or why it's OK, even commendable, to quit our minds will come up with greater and greater reasons why this sucks, why we should quit and how we can quit, real or imagined. I overcame this on trail by being more conscious of this process nipping it in the bud by not allowing myself to magnify challenges, the negative and not letting myself be ungrateful. I chose to see the real challenges but not spend the majority of my time stuck there. I decided to spend the majority of my time focusing on solutions, appreciation, laughter, or not seeing so much the challenges but seeing the great opportunities in what I was experiencing. IMHO, this is the real reason why many quit not only their anticipated hikes but many other endeavors in life!

Severe debilitating food poisoning on trail after eating suspect shrimp on a PCT thru going north out of Sisters OR. I was repeatedly asked and told "oh it must be Giardia from the water, you drank bad water." This is a common misassumption attributing such food poisoning, bad hygiene symptoms, etc to bad water/the environment on trail. Made four excruciating painful miles in two days. Rested most of the time. Forced down water containing electrolytes as I was routinely yakking to not become dehydrated. Took some Aleve which is all I had. Had another hiker who's mother was a nurse offer Imodium tablets and Flagyl he was carrying. The Imodium helped. Didn't consume the Flagyl but did take it in case. At the end of two days I was better. Third day I did a 18 miler. Fourth day I was 99% my thru-hiker self hitting my daily milage avg.

On same PCT thru once in WA shin splints became so debilitating I couldn't walk without severe pain. I had been dealing with them since Seiad Valley. I had been aggressive in my pace sometimes running all day on steeper uphills and downhills with sometimes bad form(pounding/slapping my feet in a too rigid posture), neglecting stretching IT bands, and wearing worn out inappropriate footwear. I tried stretching exercises which helped. All I had was again Aleve. Finally sidelined at Stevens Pass where gratefully the Dinsmore trail angels allowed me more than a week off the PCT icing the shins, staying off my feet, and being aided by "Butterfly" - another PCTer, nurse who was also a runner assisting me with stretching.

Neglected(was ignorant of) having dentistry checked before a AT thru-hike. A neglected cavity caused a tooth to fracture and break off. Crushed aspirin and placed onto the tooth the first day. Ran out of aspirin. While on trail applied a poultice of fresh garlic(usually carry a clove for it's many benefits), Blue Cohosh(Caulophyllum spp., collected), American Ginseng(Panax quinquefolius, collected), American Ginger(Asarum canadense, collected, usually carry some fresh ginger rhizome from the grocery store for its many benefits), and Slipper Elm(Ulmus fluva, collected). I learned of some of these plants and their possible medicinal benefits because I was carrying two books concerning the subject of Appalachian medicinal plants. Hiking isn't just about hiking. About a week later the tooth was pulled in town at a expensive emergency dental visit. Went right back to the trail heeding the dentist's recommendations. Never did use the pain meds the dentists provided.

MuddyWaters
09-04-2016, 16:53
Neglected(was ignorant of) having dentistry checked before a AT thru-hike. A neglected cavity caused a tooth to fracture and break off.



Usually a problem with older folks, but a real issue. I had a molar that had had a root canal a few months before, but not yet a crown break on me . Was eating bacon at NOC restaurant, being careful to eat on other side of mouth, a stray small hard bit wandered onto the root canal tooth and I heard and felt snap. About 1/4 of it broke deep in the gum, Was hiking with my son, so we continued to hike and I got it looked at about a week later. Problem was because a bad endodontist went ahead and did root canal on a tooth that had a crack beneath gum (this is why it died in first place), other endos Ive seen since for similar on another tooth said no way, it has to come out.

Kids, dont chew ice for 35 yrs is my advice.

Another Kevin
09-04-2016, 19:42
About 40 years ago I trashed a knee on the way down Smarts Mountain on the Ranger Trail (which was the A-T route back then). I had three other guys with me, and we met a few other hikers on the way out, so I was able to hobble out, doped to the eyeballs, with a big guy supporting me at each shoulder (or kind of carrying/dragging me over the hard parts). It was six weeks before I managed to get about without a cane, although nothing was broken or dislocated. What saved me there was a lot of help from friend and stranger.

That trip was a weekend, so there was no question of "quitting" a long hike.

Then last summer, I faceplanted on rocks in the Adirondacks, solo, fifteen miles from the nearest public road. I lacerated both hands, smashed my eyeglasses (the lenses were intact but scratched beyond usefulness, and one temple was busted), bruised a toe (I had to lance the nail in the field), and sprained a knee badly. I thought about lighting my PLB, but I said to myself, "what are the rangers going to do if they come for me? Most likely, they'll put an Ace bandage on it, feed me painkillers, and walk me out. I can do that myself." (I do bring an Ace wrap with me, because I have several old injuries that might flare up.) It took me a day and a half, but I managed to hobble out to my car and drive myself to the urgent care clinic. Imaging revealed a bone contusion of the patella, so they had me brace the knee, and prescribed relative rest and using a cane. Once again, it was about six weeks before I was getting around without the cane.

This was in the course of a Northville-Placid thru-hike that had several interruptions. First try - got bronchitis four days in, so I bailed home for a few days. When I got back on trail, the first snow had arrived, they were starting to close access roads for the winter, and I was running out of vacation time, so I leapfrogged forward and finished the other end of the trail. The next summer, I started in where I had left off, and got the sprained knee. Once I could hike again without risking permanent damage, I went back and finished. (Also, that year they opened a new section, so I picked that up in two day trips.) Since it was all done within a year on the calendar, I'll still call it a thru-hike, but it was really multiple trips that would have fit in long weekends, so my "clueless weekender" status is intact.

I'd say that the things that got me back to town that second time were:



soap and water, to bathe all the road rash. Something would surely have become infected, otherwise.
trekking poles. I could have improvised walking sticks, I suppose, but the poles, with wrist straps, already fit me, and I didn't have to hold a death grip on them with torn hands.
the Ace wrap.
having a paperclip in my first aid kit that I could unbend, heat red hot, and use to burn through the toenail to drain the blood behind it.
having a prescription painkiller, a tiny tube of antibiotic ointment, and a five-day course of Cipro in my kit, so that I could get out after lancing the nail even though getting out involved a lot of wading in beaver swamp. I was carrying the Cipro against the possibility of dysentery, but figured that having a broad-spectrum antibiotic on board would surely not hurt, considering the number of cuts and scratches - most notably the toe - that were simply going to be dirty most of the time because I'd soil them immediately after washing them.

Pheral
09-04-2016, 19:49
I was hiking above Newfound gap last February on a very, very icy AT. I was about a mile and half in and was trying to negotiate a particularly slick section by stepping around on the uphill side. My downhill foot slipped out from me and I felt kind of like I was split like a chicken wishbone. I suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain and then had to walk out. I actually think I got off lucky - it could have been a far worse injury, and at least I was able to get out. What has amazed me has been how long it has taken to get over this injury. I wore a knee brace on all my hikes for 4 months and am only now feeling back in form.

I am certainly guilty of the aforementioned 'stinkin' thinkin'. It's so hard sometimes to resist bullying one's way through obstacles rather than stopping and thinking things through.

As an aside, I'm about to take a wilderness first aid course - this as much to evaluate my own potential injuries as help others in need.

JLorenzo77
09-05-2016, 09:11
This past March I was out on a quick solo hike in Central Maryland. My destination was Black Rock overlook. I made it, took a few photos and as the rocks were a tad slippery, I decided to ease down the rock, essentially on my feet and rear end. My foot slipped and I threw my arms back to break my fall. My right shoulder partially dislocated but it saved me from hitting my head. Unfortunately when I stood up to take my day pack off, the shoulder completely dislocated.

For a couple of minutes the pain was excruciating as my arm dangled from its socket. Somehow I managed to slip it back in, walk 3.2 miles to my car and drive myself to the ER. My wife took the opportunity as I was carefully walking down the mountain to point out that she told me not to go alone. Salt, meet open wound. Open wound, meet salt. :)

Not a huge fan of solo hikes anymore after that.

Schnitzel
09-05-2016, 09:22
a couple of years ago I was attempting a thru-hike of the AT - had felt some pain in my ankle during pre-hike training, but ignored it. I have RA, so pain is pretty much a given, as is ignoring it. I ended up hiking about 600 miles, give or take, ending up in Pearisburg, when I quit for a different reason, namely poisoning due to RA meds, and not monitoring the dosage during the hike when my metabolism changed so much. By that point, the ankle pain had gotten much worse, including a strange bump on the inside of my ankle - but again, assumed it was an RA nodule and ignored it. After being home for a few weeks, my husband and I decided to thru-hike the Northville Placid Trail, because I was already feeling like I should go back to hiking something. After two days on the trail, I woke up and was in a tremendous amount of pain, and could not continue, so we bailed. Turns out I had snapped the Posterior Tibial Tendon, and had been hiking like that for hundreds of miles. Surgery and a year of recovery time later, not allowed to hike again, as tearing the transplanted tendon will require fusing the entire joint. Now I'm working on trying to save the two achilles tendons that apparently started to tear at the same time, or maybe later. . .

I'm working on getting my husband to hike the Long Trail next summer, so that I can vicariously hike. . .

Tipi Walter
09-05-2016, 09:59
Last weekend I took a bad fall crossing a river on the Jack's River Trail in the Cohutta in Georgia. I slipped and fell hitting my hand on a rock, I was convinced it was broken but turned out to be a bad sprain of my wrist. Although we had planned to camp that night, we decided to hike all the way out since setting up and breaking down would be miserable.

It made me curious to the injuries that people have encountered on the trail and how they were dealt with in the back country.

Jacks River WILL throw you to the ground quicker than you can say "Uncle Sphincter and his Cohutta Brown Rock Navy".

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2011/Tipi-Walter-Big-Frog-Cohutta/i-CWVPqxn/0/L/TRIP%20122%20118-L.jpg
This is the Jacks crossing below the Falls leading to the Rice Camp trailhead. Looks harmless enough but it is not! The brown algae on the rocks will throw a backpacker down fast and hard.

As far as trip mishaps and injuries, well, if you're out long enough you'll have every problem you'd normally have at home---broken teeth, food poisoning, toothaches, stumbles, skeletal-muscular issues, hornet stings, bad water and vomiting/diarrhea, broken toes, even bigger broken bones etc etc.

But backpacking is unique as falling is much more of an issue due to trail and hill conditions, plus you normally don't get all cut up with brambles at home.

Patrickjd9
09-05-2016, 13:29
Have had a couple of injuries that required medical attention while doing trail work, a punctured fingernail from a bow saw, and severe bronchitis after doing chainsaw work on a damp, cold day. My wife saw me and marched me off for the doctor for the bronchitis that night.

Have only had to go to a doctor once after a hiking injury, a Baker's cyst behind my left knee. Cuts and scrapes have been dealt with first aid on the trail. A case of what was probably Norovirus a couple of years ago was the worst. I hiked through it, but was relieved when my group decided to cut the hike short.

Maineiac64
09-05-2016, 13:57
Jacks River WILL throw you to the ground quicker than you can say "Uncle Sphincter and his Cohutta Brown Rock Navy".

But backpacking is unique as falling is much more of an issue due to trail and hill conditions, plus you normally don't get all cut up with brambles at home.

Yes, it happened very fast. I was not paying attention and being careful.

Dogwood
09-05-2016, 13:59
Thank you all for your accounts of preserving.

Puddlefish
09-05-2016, 16:25
I nearly rolled an ankle and was all proud of myself for my quick cat like reflexes and recovery, unfortunately my "recovery" consisted of a lunge with the other leg to maintain balance, and I blew out the MCL in that knee. Spent the next two weeks alternating zero days and short hikes and eventually just got off the trail because I wasn't getting anywhere and it wasn't healing.

DuneElliot
09-06-2016, 11:01
Crossing a creek and either the rock under my foot rolled, my foot slipped or I just tripped and my hiking poles didn't save me...in fact they were what cause the injury. I went down hard, hitting my top lip on the top of my hiking pole. One of my teeth ripped a huge gash on the inside of my lip. I also landed on both knees resulting in some scrapes and bruising...but nothing compared to the gushing blood from the half inch missing section of my lip (I took a picture for posterity). Nausea and dizziness came on within about 15 minutes and I had to rest for half an hour. I was definitely concerned that it might need stitches and that I might need to quit my hike on only the second day of a week-long trip...but it stopped bleeding eventually and I hiked on.

Eating and drinking that day was not a fun experience, but I gutted it out and was feeling much better and less pain the following day. I was actually glad it was on the inside because the outer lip gets dry and cracked a lot quicker and takes longer to heal.

chknfngrs
09-06-2016, 11:30
I lost a toenail after hiking 25.8 miles last November. Just grew back, so it's time for another 25.8 mile day.

kjbrown
09-06-2016, 12:00
Got a great one for you I was in training for my March 17 AT hike and was off for a long weekend in the Shawnee National Forest, and when walking out to the car getting ready to leave I steped in a 6 inch hole that the dog put in the back yard and tore my Achillies tendon, broke the heal on the left foot. Well TH 17 is now TH 18 after the surgery and the upcoming PT and rehab.

Puddlefish
09-06-2016, 12:16
So much ouch in this thread.

Hang R
09-06-2016, 13:17
I was just hiking SOBO on the Long Trail this past weekend. I had just started at the Winooski Bridge and while I was hiking down the backside of Camels Hump I rolled my ankle pretty good. I had to stop hiking early at the Montclair Glen shelter. By the time that I made it to the Cowles Cove shelter the next day I knew it was worst than just a little sprain. I made arrangements to be picked up and hiked out to the Appalacian Gap. I later found out that I had a fracture. :( I will have to say it was not fun hiking that section In that condition. I never hiked so slow in my life before. At least the fracture was not so bad that I needed a cast and got away with only a boot. I guess I will have to wait till next year to finish up the trail.

becfoot
09-11-2016, 19:17
Last week, I had a few hours to kill so I decided to go NoBo to Mombasha High Point. First time using poles and I had my dog strapped to my hip belt. (Thanks for that idea, WB Folks.) I hike to this area that looks like it's never been touched by humans when, right before the last blaze I can locate, I trip over a half-buried rock. Poles and dog saved me, but for a few seconds I was concerned that I wasn't getting out without assistance. I got up, shook out the ankle, hobbled around, then searched this relatively uneven rocky area where I couldn't find the next blaze. At that point, it occurred to me that maybe I should just save the rest of this trek for another day and get out while the going was still, well, going. Took only two days and ibuprofen to be back to normal but I really think that if not for the poles and dog, I'd be sitting out the rest of the season.

garlic08
09-11-2016, 19:27
Nothing on trail, but I get VERY careful when I hike into town. Speeding vehicles, dogs, curbs, questionable restaurant hygiene, and the worst--motel room furniture and bathtubs--those are the scary parts of thru-hiking.

tiptoe
09-14-2016, 12:36
This thread give me the creeps. So sorry for everyone's missteps.

Here's my contribution (from 5 years ago), and I can happily report that things worked out well. I got back on the trail 18 months after the injury, and became a 2,000 miler just yesterday.
http://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/76883-heartfelt-thanks-to-rescuers-in-the-Whites

Jason B
09-14-2016, 14:53
Did you get a x-ray? I have fallen and on my wrist before and the x-ray didn't show a fracture but it hurt for years. Well I found out 6 years later that the swelling had closed the fracture and it was not visible on the original x-ray but at the reevaluation it was a full blown nonunion fracture. X-rays are better now since that was 15 years ago, but it's something to think about.

illabelle
09-14-2016, 16:16
This thread give me the creeps. So sorry for everyone's missteps.

Here's my contribution (from 5 years ago), and I can happily report that things worked out well. I got back on the trail 18 months after the injury, and became a 2,000 miler just yesterday.
http://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/76883-heartfelt-thanks-to-rescuers-in-the-Whites

Yikes! That sounds like a pretty rough day!
Reminds me of a story about someone else's injury: We were hiking for a week in New Jersey and encountered an older fellow headed north. We stopped to chat for a few minutes. He had attempted a thru-hike a couple years earlier, but by Duncannon it was 105 and he'd had enough. So he headed up to Katahdin to flip flop. Somewhere south of the HMW he slipped on a bog bridge and broke one of his lower leg bones. Not in sync with either the NOBO or SOBO crowd, he had not seen many others hikers and figured he'd have to self-rescue. He hiked 7 miles on his broken leg to get to a road crossing where someone picked him up. And now he was back to fill in the missing piece and complete the trail.

Leo L.
09-15-2016, 01:42
This happened back in the mid-80ties during a motorbike trip to the south (Greece it was).
Did a short hike up a river, finally had to cross the river to continue downstream back to the bike.
Stripped, rolled up all my stuff in the clothes, started to cross, slipped, fell and got washed downstream.
Panicked because some hundred meters down there was kind of a logging dam with dangerous currents and a fall.
Made it finally to the other side, spread out all the wet stuff in the hot sun, and while relaxing my left big toe started to hurt.
It continued to hurt and was impossible to move.
Had no insurance, there was no medical service in this area, and anyway, what would a medic do with my broken toe? Plaster and stay in bed?
As I was on my way back home anyway, I decided to just stand the pain and push through.
It was the worst three days in my life so far. Couldn't change gear without extra pain. couldn't walk, the vibrations were terrible on my injury.
Made it back home finally, by then the injury had calmed down and I just kept on living without seeing a doc.

Maineiac64
09-15-2016, 11:38
Did you get a x-ray? I have fallen and on my wrist before and the x-ray didn't show a fracture but it hurt for years. Well I found out 6 years later that the swelling had closed the fracture and it was not visible on the original x-ray but at the reevaluation it was a full blown nonunion fracture. X-rays are better now since that was 15 years ago, but it's something to think about.

no but I likely should have. It still is sore when i first get up but much better, I shouldve been better about not using that hand in last couple weeks. I read where it can take 6-8 weeks to heal a bad sprain.

rafe
09-15-2016, 16:41
On my last trek through the HMW (2010) I met a fellow at Rainbow Stream shelter and we chatted a bit. Big fella, body like a bouncer. But not a thru hiker or LASHER, just out for a two or three day section. I didn't see him when I left the shelter the next morning southbound, and figured that was the last I'd see of him.

Some hours later I pulled into Wadleigh Stream shelter and there he was. I was surprised to see him. Told me he'd fallen down, knocked his head and passed out. He wasn't feeling well and asked if I'd walk with him for the next few miles, up to the junction of a blue blaze that would take him off the trail and to some campground.

Knock wood, apart from blisters and bruised ego, I've never had a serious injury hiking. I've had a few falls that sent me a$$ over teakettle but always managed to land safely. So far...

My peakbagging partner managed to fracture her ankle a couple of weekends ago, descending Beaver Brook Trail down off Moosilauke. I wasn't with her on that trip but I can imagine it. She's always in an all-fired hurry in the afternoons on the way down the mountain. She's tall and thin and more of a risk-taker than me.

On my last trip with her, on the way down off North Twin Mtn., I watched a fellow slip on a damp rock and take quite a tumble. I had pulled to the side of the trail to let him go by, so I was right there when it happened. Amazingly, he was unhurt. Patted himself down and continued on his way, only mildly perturbed.

Walking slowly (and having a lower center of gravity) may have some advantages with regard to falls and injury.