Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ugly Foot Alert!

I had my first hiking injury recently, which can be a little scary when hiking alone in the desert. I'm generally very careful, planning my hikes in detail, marking waypoints on my phone to help me keep my bearings, and even using a tracking app that allows me to follow my exact tracks back to the start of the hike. I do a short write-up (complete with waypoints) prior to going on a hike. I print out out two copies (take one with me, and leave a copy for my wife) so there is no question of where I will be hiking. If for some reason I don't return, she knows where to find me! Perhaps most importantly, I STICK TO THE PLAN! There can be deadly consequences if I change my mind at the last minute and hike in an area where nobody knows where I am. I consider all this more or less mandatory for off-trail hiking in the desert from a safety and survival perspective.

So a few weeks ago I decided to hike the "Twin Tanks" area in Joshua Tree (more to follow about Twin Tanks on my next post, so stay tuned!). I had never hiked here before, and there is no trail leading to the Twin Tanks area. It requires some navigation ability and use of waypoints and landmarks. Also, I checked out a trusted resource before doing the hike (patricktillett.blogspot.com). My friend Pat had this to say about the area:

This place is a warren of washes and small canyons, many of which terminate in a dead end. What I'm saying, is that it is very easy to get lost and/or injured in this area. For most people, getting lost in the desert or wilderness, is a very bad thing. Sometimes, it is a fatal mistake. This is made all the worse, by the absence of cell phone signals here.

OK, this definitely raised a red flag in my mind to be careful. Thanks, Pat, for the heads up! So off I went on my Twin Tanks hike, well prepared and with camera gear, plenty of water, snacks, as well as other safety gear.


There is no trail to the Twin Tanks area, so right at the start of the hike you have to make a decision: Follow the wash (photo above), or take a more cross country approach? The wash is sandy, which makes hiking harder, with lots of twists and turns. Cross country can mean more rugged terrain with ups and downs. I chose the cross country approach, but rejoined with the wash from time to time.


Early in the hike, at about 3/4 of a mile or so, the rock formations started getting interesting. It might have been at this spot that I started hiking up one of the boulders to get a better vantage point for a photo.

Or maybe it was at this spot? I guess it doesn't matter, but I ended up slipping as I climbed a boulder. I went down hard, holding my DSLR in one hand and my hiking stick in the other. I heard a "clunk" as my camera base hit a rock, I felt a sharp pain in my right ankle and my right palm was bleeding. My first thought was "Oh s**t, I broke my camera!" My second thought was "Am I going to be able to hike out of here??" Thankfully, my camera was fine. I had some mild ankle pain, but I could walk on it.
Yup, I warned you. This is my ankle a few days after the hike as it's starting to turn purple. I don't know why the purple bruise follows that sharp line above my heel.


View of the other side of my right foot. Ugly, bruised and swollen, but nothing broken!

Since it didn't hurt too much to walk, I continued on my hike. It was actually a great hike, and I intend to go back for a second visit. There are some petroglyphs I would like to see that I didn't quite make it to on this hike. I'll leave you with a few pretty sky shots from the Twin Tanks hike.






Addendum: A sad ending to the young hikers that went missing in Joshua Tree in late July. Amazingly, it took over 2 1/2 months and thousands of search-hours to find the bodies (their bodies were found embracing on Sunday, Oct. 15). You can read a short article here. It just highlights how dangerous and sometimes deadly the desert can be.


Tune in next time for more photos taken during my hike in the Twin Tanks area.
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!!

48 comments:

  1. Silly me! I thought your title referred to a new rock formation discovery!!! DOH! Your foot took quite a bit of damage by the looks of it and how fortunate you were able to continue, camera in tact! Love that last shot especially!

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  2. Hope you are already on the mend. That ankle looks very painful. Still you picked a beautiful place to explore.

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  3. I love your posts - your photos are wonderful and your narrative makes me feel like I'm right there with you. Glad you're ok - it could have been lots worse.

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  4. those are impossible pictures! Absolutely wonderful!!! Sorry about the foot...

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  5. It looks beautiful, but that's a scary fall.

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  6. Oh thank goodness that you didn't break any bones.Breaking a camera would be devastating, but in reality, they can be replaced, but people can't be.Glad it all ended as well as it did.

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  7. I'm sorry you were injured but happy it wasn't worse. yes so sad about the young hikers.

    gorgeous skies. I especially like the second to last shot. hope you heal fast.

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  8. It's a very beautiful hike; I can see why you wanted to go there! I also have this same thought as you whenever I head out alone. I always bring my dog, which gives me peace of mind, but I'm not sure why because I don't really know what she could do! I like your idea of leaving a copy of your hiking plan. I will start doing that. Thank goodness your injury wasn't too bad! Hope you will heal quickly!

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  9. Beautiful beyond belief. but so scary to think about your injury; I'm glad it wasn't more serious (had to laugh about the camera being your first worry though). The info you provided about preparation for desert hiking should be required reading for anyone planning to cross-country hike in that area. Especially when considering the terribly sad story about the young couple.

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  10. It's so beautiful there, but of course there are dangers too. Hope you heal soon.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  11. All I can do is shake my head at your guts, skills and superb post!! I think the red line over your heel is because there is little blood supply to it. I once nearly tore off my heel [got 12 stitches to close it], and there was no blood. Freaked me out. Anyway, glad you are on the mend.

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  12. Thanks for the post and amazing pics.
    Take care.

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  13. ouch! hope your ankle is going to be ok

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  14. I read just the other day of the bodies of a couple found in JT this past week. Always wise to hike in pairs...advice I've rarely followed...didn't help them. I carry a north-south-thingie now...so easy to get turned around in our prairie parks.

    I loved your photos. So glad I found you. :)

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  15. Hello, Wow! I am just glad you were still able to walk on your foot after the fall. The photos are gorgeous, what a lovely place for hiking. This park is magical! Sending get well wishes for you and your foot. Happy Friday, enjoy your day and weekend.

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  16. Oh, my! That ankle certainly does look painful! I was out hiking (ALONE) in Thousand Palms Canyon about two years ago when I slipped on a rock and my camera went SPLAT! Fortunately, it wasn't broken and it still works (my $$$$ Canon...). Some other hikers saw me fall and came to assist me back to my car. I went straight to urgent care and yup..I sprained my ankle...drove home with crutches! We should NEVER go out alone (at our age, or any age...)...lesson learned!
    ~Cheryl Ann~

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  17. Marvelous shots and a tale that reinforces my respect for you!

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  18. Sorry about the injury and glad you got out of there okay. A good warning for us and very sad when I heard about the hikers. I am not experienced enough to go on such a hike. Your photos are incredible.

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  19. oh my... you are brave going hiking alone in a desert. I had to smile at the part where camera hit the rock and at your reaction. I guess mine would be the same. glad to hear that everything ended well. looking at your beautiful photos and reading your interesting posts, I forget how dangerous a desert can be (is). this is a wake up call.

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  20. You do make the best preparations possible, but accidents can happen, and they can happen in the most urban areas (as my husband found out, to his sorrow, on Saturday). I hope you heal quickly. I also read about the missing hikers, and the news now that the deaths were, apparently, a murder/suicide. How very, very sad for both families.

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  21. Sorry to hear about your fall. It could of been worse but thankfully it was OK and you could continue. Hope the healing is going good. That was a sad article about the hikers. I don't think I would want to hike alone anywhere. You were prepared with the info you needed but problems still can arise.
    The photos are stunning as always and I enjoy seeing them.
    Take care!

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  22. Ouch! So sorry that happened. You got some wonderful pictures of the sky though.

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  23. Glad you are on the mend. Gorgeous photos!

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  24. First off, thanks for the shout out Pete! As usual, your photos are gorgeous.
    There are so many great photo-ops in this area. I'm really sorry you sprained your ankle. I know that can really hurt. Depending on where are (like alone in a place like Twin Tanks), it can also be a bit scary. One time after I had sprained my ankle, my doctor told me that, when an ankle is sprained, it could just as easily be broken, because it doesn't take much difference in force, or leverage. I hope it's feeling better now! Again, great post Pete!

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  25. Beautiful rocks! Worth the sore foot, I think! (YMMV)

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  26. Breathtaking landscape, and your photos are amazing. I hope your ankle will heal quickly. Have a lovely weekend! Take care!

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  27. Great shots as always and I hope your ankle is a once in a life experience but exploring uncharted territory (not exactly really) has always a bit of a risk but you are there in great company. Have a good weekend.

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  28. Oh my goodness, but does that ever look sore!!!! It's a good thing you were able to continue hiking with the injury. Yes, I know just what it's like walking in the desert...I lived in Arizona for over a decade. And yes, it's EASY to get lost....keep your eye on the sun, that helps with direction when the cellphones don't connect with any towers.

    Sad about the couple.

    Enjoyed very much reading your narration today.

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  29. stunning desert shots but the ankle needs some rest

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  30. The photographs are lovely but you take care!

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  31. I hope your ankle is getting better! The photos from your hike is beautiful! Do take care.

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  32. So glad you are okay and the camera too ~ Magnificent sky and rock formation photography ~ ^_^

    Love and light,
    A ShutterBug Explores ~ aka ~ (A Creative Harbor)

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  33. Good yoy did not distroy the camera but your foot look bad! Wish you al the best!

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  34. Ouch!!!! Strange though how some injuries you can just keep on going. I have fallen down several times in my treks but nothing serious yet. Where I live you always have a cell signal.

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  35. Ouch! Even though you said you were still able to hike a bit, it looks like it must've hurt pretty bad. Hope it heals real soon so you can go back :) But for whatever it's worth, the photos are beautiful!

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  36. What a beautiful landscape ! I have been to the Joshua park but haven't seen this part ! Your foot looks terrible I hope it doesn't take too long to heal !

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  37. Peter,

    Oh, WOW! What a nasty sprain you have there, my boy! I'm so glad you're okay. I often think about your lone hikes in the dessert and think, "Is he crazy or what?" lol I was delighted to learn that you take all the necessary precautions planning your trip while leaving a copy of your route with the wife, and not deviating from your path. This is very wise. Judging by the bruising you shouldn't have continued your hike but when you're wearing hiking boots its sometimes hard to tell just how sore you ankle can be. I will say this, you captured some gorgeous photos of the landscape and beautiful blue skies over the dessert but oh, my your post ended with such sad, sad mews. How heartbreaking! Stay off that foot now. Thanks for dropping by on Friday. I'm playing catch up today!

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  38. Great pictures, really stunning desert shots !

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  39. Klasse Bilder sehr schöner Bildaufbau und klasse Farben.

    Noke

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  40. So wonderful photos, but your foot: in Germany we say: Gute Besserung - all good things to you!
    Greetings
    Kirsi

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  41. Glad you and your camera are O.K. I can't believe you were able to keep hiking. Great shots! Now, I'm going to check out that link on the lost hikers.

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  42. Hi, great you are careful. Your foot looks perfectly normal for that kind of injury. The blood stops as there are not much bloodvessels under the foot and it can´t return upwords as it normally should and also the skin is thicker.

    I guess the rock is sandstone? Looks like it from the texture :) Don´t go on any new hike until your foot is healed, and strong again. :)

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  43. You got some great shots! I love the B&W ones.

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  44. That is terribly sad and you are incredibly lucky. I can't believe both camera and ankle remain unbroken and you CONTINUED THE HIKE. Beautiful shots and I hear you about saving the camera first. Am impressed by all the precautions you take.

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  45. Your foot looks nasty. I hope it is better now for you. Lovely scenery in your images.

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