[Cdt-l] Not my usual CDT section hike finish...

Charlie Thorpe charliethorpe at att.net
Mon Oct 7 01:30:18 CDT 2013


Hello All -

Below is a letter to the editor that I have sent to the newspaper covering the Springerville, AZ area.  I am sending it to the list because I am guessing that other CDT hitchhikers might recognize these situations we can get ourselves into <g>.

- Charlie
(Who starts out on his last CDT section hike in the Gila WA tomorrow!)

To the editor:

I had a very interesting day last week…and I have some folks to thank for it.

I was standing by the road in Pie Town (NM) trying to catch a ride back to my car up in Grants (NM).  I have been hiking sections of the Continental Divide Trail for the last fifteen years (one more ~40 mile section down by Silver City left to go!).  I had just completed the ~90 mile stretch of the CDT that winds through the lava fields and other beautiful country between Grants and Pie Town.  

There is is a fair amount of hiker/biker activity along that trail corridor and I was hoping that a member of the extended trail community could give me a ride back to my car.  I started trying to catch a ride the afternoon before and had been standing there for a total of well over seven hours when a motor home came to a stop near me.  I was trying to go north and the motor home was heading west, but being an eternal optimist I walked over to it hoping that somehow it might be offering me a way to get back to my car.  

The man driving the motorhome was vomiting into a plastic trash can when I opened the passenger side door to talk with him.  He explained that he had a chronic medical condition (not contagious) which was normally controlled by oral medications, but sometimes things get so out of whack that he throws up the oral meds before they can do any good for him.  The only solution at that point is to get medical help so that intravenous meds can bring the situation back under control.

He asked if I could drive and if I could drive him on to the hospital he was heading for.  He was almost constantly throwing up and was in severe abdominal pain - driving was getting impossible for him.  Of course I was willing to help (been in Scouting all my life), so I got behind the wheel and started driving us west on US-60.  I found out later that we were heading for the hospital in Springerville, AZ

We arrived at the White Mountain Regional Medical Center and my new acquaintance was able to check himself into the emergency room.  I told him that I would wait around until he was able to think clearly and he could start getting in touch with friends in the area.  I parked the motorhome in the shade, set up water and food for his dog inside, and moved my backpack to the emergency waiting room.  

I eventually started wondering how I was going to get back to my car since I was now at least 70 miles west of the trail corridor in NM and there was no bus service heading back that way.  The hospital folks were very helpful in trying to find employees who lived over in NM who might be able to help me sort out how to get to Grants, but it turned out that none of the NM commuters were working that particular day.

I was back in the emergency waiting room preparing myself for a complicated hitchhiking challenge when Patty Orona (Marketing and Community Services Director) came by. She was concerned that my good Samaritan efforts had ended up getting me into a transportation pickle and offered to help me find a way to get back to my car in Grants.

Patty very generously worked with AZ and NM law enforcement agencies to arrange my transportation from Springerville to Grants.  My motorhome friend was feeling much better under the expert medical care he was getting and wished me well in my efforts to get back to my car.  It wasn't long before Apache County (AZ) Sheriff's Department Deputy David Padilla arrived to start me on my journey to Grants.

I was impressed by the White Mountain Regional Medical Center - by both the facility (clean and modern) and the staff (invariably very professional).  I definitely want to thank Apache County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Brannon Eagar, Deputy David Padilia, and Catron County (NM) Sherif's Department Under Sheriff Ian Fletcher for their help in getting a trail-worn hiker out of their hair and back to where I was supposed to be.

I especially want to thank Patty Orona - if she is any indication of what your entire hospital administration team is like, then the place is in very good hands indeed!

Charlie Thorpe
Continental Divide Trail hiker
Huntsville, Alabama



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