Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's time to come full circle on the high divide loop

I attempted to do the twenty mile high divide loop in July of 2003.  I started at Olympic Hot springs and then hiked up Appleton pass and then down Appleton pass and began my loop.   My spouse set up base camp at Olympic Hot Springs, after seeing me off at Appleton pass.

The day I left my husband at Appleton pass something terrible happened.  It was at the end of my hiking day and I was about to set up my camp at Silver Snag near Bogachiel peak when suddenly, I began to hemorrhage.

 I was eight weeks pregnant and I knew I was having a miscarriage.  I was airlifted from the high divide that night and it would be two days before I could get word to my husband who was camped at Olympic Hot springs to tell him what had happened.  My husband heard the helicopter flying over head but he had no idea that I was in it. 

As the sun was setting I was flown to Edez Hook in a coast guard helicopter and from there was transported to the Jefferson county ER via an ambulance.  The ER could not tell me if I had lost my baby or not and they refused to do an ultrasound.  They said that it made no medical difference and I would find out soon enough if I was still pregnant based on a blood test.

Since I had no car the ER sent me in a car with a Australian woman who was camping at Elwah with her family and had taken her son to the ER that night.  The Australian woman was kind enough to take me to my car at the Olympic Hot springs trail head rather than dump me at Elwah campground as the ER had intended. 

I spent the night in my little car trying to sleep while hoping that the bleeding had stopped, hoping I was still pregnant and wondering what to do.  I could not risk hiking to the hot springs just 2 miles away to let my husband know that I  had been flown out.  For all he knew I was on my loop and would rejoin him in two days.

The next morning I left a note at the trail head for my husband and then I carefully drove into Port Angeles.  I had my drivers licence, but I did not have a credit card and I did not have much cash on me since I was hiking. 

Luckily I was able to get a phone call through to my ex-boyfriend and he very kindly offered to  pay for my motel room for the night.  I booked myself into the first motel room with a kitchen that I saw and then began trying to figure out how to tell my husband who was still camping at Olympic Hot springs, what had happened.   

The rangers on the ground the night I was airlifted refused to hike in and tell my husband.  I kept driving back and forth from the motel room to the Olympic Hot Springs trail head trying to find my husband.  I told the person at the park entrance booth my entire story, but she was unable to offer me any type of help.  Finally two days after I had been airlifed, I drove back to the trail head for about the fourth time and I got another hiker who was a total stranger to agree to find my husband at the hot springs campground and tell him where I was.

Then drove back to the motel room  and waited for my husband to join me.  The motel had a kitchenette but the owner, in spite of knowing my story locked me out of the kitchenette claiming it was not included in the price we paid.   I was to ill to argue with her so I got by with carefully cooking my backpacking food over my stove in the parking lot the first night and then the next night I ordered a pizza.

After my husband finally got word he night hiked out of the hot springs and slept at the trail head.  In the morning he got a ride and joined me in the motel.  A park  caretaker had very kindly gaven him a ride all the way in to Port Angeles.   My husband and I then moved to the Riviera Inn Motel a different motel in Port Angeles so I could rest for a week before driving home.  My British husband did not yet have an American drivers licence, so he could not drive us home.

The next day the hospital in Port Angeles called and said that the blood tests showed I had lost the baby.  But I thought they were wrong, my gut told me I was still pregnant.  I called my gynaecologist in my home town and told her my blood test results.  She said the baby was probably fine and the hospital had read my test results wrong based on how far along I was in my pregnancy.   What a relief!

I called the hospital back and told them that they had interpreted the results of the blood test wrong.  Then and only then did the hospital agree to do an ultrasound.  The ultrasound showed a heartbeat.  My baby was alive!

My baby is ten years old now.  She was born healthy and at full term.  This week I am going to take her backpacking with me on the high divide loop.  I will take her to the spot where I was airlifted and when we get there I will probably hug her and kiss her a lot.  My spouse is now too ill to make the journey but he will be rooting for us from home.

By taking my healthy daughter up there under her own power on the loop where I nearly lost her, I feel the circle will be completed. 

Here is the text from two newspaper articles about my airlift.  I have removed personal information:

Peninsula Daily News July 25 2003
Woman Airlifted

  Olympic National Park - A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter airlifted a pregnant woman Tuesday night from Olympic National Park when the 40 year-old woman began hemorrhaging, the Coast Guard Reported.
XXXXX XXXXX, whose hometown was not reported was evacuated from a field near Bogachiel Peak, just south of Seven Lakes Basin, after the Coast Guard received a call from park rangers at about 8:30 p.m.

A medical doctor hiking in the woman's group recommended an immediate evacuation, the Coast Guard  reported.

The HH-65 Dolphin helicopter landed in the field, at an elevation of 5,000 feet, retrieved XXXX  and transported her to Group/Air station Port Angeles, where medics from the Port Angeles Fire Department met the craft and took XXXX to Olympic Memorial Hospital, according to the Coast
Guard. The hospital has no record of XXXX, and her condition was not available.


Peninsula Daily News July 27 2003
Airlifted Pregnant  Woman OK
Port Orchard--  A pregnant woman who was airlifted from Olympic National Park last week is fine, and so is her unborn child.
XXXXX XXXXX 36, of Port Orchard, was evacuated in a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from High Divide at an elevation of about 5,000 feet, Tuesday evening when she began bleeding.

XXXXX's  last name and age were incorrectly reported in a story in Friday's Peninsula Daily News. XXXXX who is eight weeks pregnant, was checked by staff at Olympic Memorial Hospital and said Friday she and the unborn child are fine.

XXXXX,  a seasoned hiker, was four days into a back-country trek and was hiking alone when she reached her campsite Tuesday night and began bleeding.

"I thought I was having a miscarriage," she said.

Other hikers staying at the campground went down the trail and contacted the Park Service for help, while a doctor on the trail assisted her and recommended she be evacuated, she said. She does not know who the doctor was, she said.

"I'd like to thank that doctor and everyone who helped me," XXXXX said.

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