Saturday, September 19, 2009

A good shock in the mountains

I figured there were going to a lot of people who want to know what happened this weekend, so I decided to get it all out there now so everyone knows exactly what happened.

Sept 18th 4:00 P.M. - Wade, Eric and I along with the two of the scouts (Chris and Tyler) met at Eric's house to meet up for a planned hike up to red pine lake for an over nighter and a peak summit of the phiferhorn in the morning. We were all feeling pretty good about it because the weather had been nice all day, i had been on NOAA all day and checking the weather band in my car on the way home from downtown where I was doing some filming.

4:55 - We got to the white pine trailhead and got ready, had a prayer for safety and got on our way.

5:19 -

we got held up in a little light rain that turned into hail, and then let up entirely. We weren't concerned because the same kind of thing happened the night before and all the weather reports were favorable (20%)

5:42 -

We had just turned off the main trail onto the white pine trailhead and it was gorgeous! The hail had turned into a sprinkle and and looked like it was heading North West away from us so we decided to continue. just after this picture we could hear thunder and started counting it out to determine if if was getting closer or father away. They started at 10 second intervals and when they got to about 3-4 we decided not to continue on because we knew the next part of the hike was more exposed to the elements. Wade and Chris were in the lead ahead of Eric, Tyler and I. I shouted to them that we we were going to get lower.

5:47 -

This is Tyler, I told him to give me a "sad we are really wet and we are turning around face" to me he looks kind of like he is having a good time, but maybe that's just me.

This is when the heavens opened, the rain came in like a sheet of water and then hail...large gumball hail. We took shelter under one of the smaller pines with a clearing. Our plan was to wait out the hail, wait until the lightning had passed us for a few seconds time and make a dash for the car which at this point was about a 45 minute hike or about 25 minute run with packs on. In fact, we had plans on leaving the packs and getting to the car, that's how bad it had gotten, in a matter of 5 minutes.

5:51 -

This is Chirs, we had just gotten up, having decided to take our packs with us on our mad rush down the mountain we were just about ready to go, I took this picture and put my camera away for the sprint.

5:52 -

I am going to recall this event from my perspective

I heard what sounded like a mix between a clap and a fighter jet sonic boom and was knocked to the ground, it knew it was lighting but it seamed to me that it just took us all by surprise more than anything. What I mean to say was that after i had gotten up from the ground and looked around for the first time, and saw every one else on the ground I kind of assumed that we all just got taken by surprise by a very loud, very bright lighting strike, and nothing more. I noticed Chris on the ground hunched up and that was my first indication that something had happened although at this point I still kind of assumed that he didn't want to get up because it was seriously scary. When the expletives started flying from wade I knew it was serious. I knew Chris was curled up in the fetal position but what caught my eye was Tyler, he had fallen down the fall line of the hill head first and wasn't moving at all. Unlike Chris he was limp and out in the rain having fallen down the hill just a small ways. After the expletives, Eric started shouting commands to get Tyler; at this point I knew something was wrong but Eric and Wade knew something was really wrong. Eric got Chris turned over and he was unconscious and convulsing and he kept telling us to go get Tyler. Wade and I ditched out packs, unbuckled Tyler's pack and turned him over; his face was blue and he was convulsing and a slower more dramatic rate than was Chris. Wade and I tried to move Tlyer but he was dead weight and he is, despite being 14, much taller and heavier than wade or I which made it exteamly difficult. I understand what the meaning dead weight is now. We got him turned over, face with his head uphill and head resting on a pack but he was still blue and convulsing. What felt like about 5 minutes past, although it was really about 10 seconds and we realized that we needed to move Tyler under the tree. Wade and I drug Tyler under the tree next to Chris who was being tended to by Eric still. I had tylers head and was talking to him as he stated to come around, foaming a little and then coughing his eyes started to move and his muscles started to move. Wade and I had emergency blankets in our packs and and so I lay Tylers head down on a pack and we ripped them out and covered the boys because they were both soaked and obviously cold. Chris had come to by that time but was fading in and out of consciousness. Eric was talking to Chris saying, "whats your name!" and "how old are you!" to keep him alert. I followed suite with Tyler and after a little time passed he could tell me his name and his age, what we were doing here and so on. I actually asked Tyler if he wanted to hear a deer joke that I made up and he smiled and said "no!". At this point we knew that the boys were okay, no obvious signs of injury but we were in danger of the cold on wet. I had my cell phone and so I tried to make an emergency call but my bars were going in and out...I was connected for about 15 seconds but never heard a voice on the other end, then I just got a rhythmic "Beep". I tried several more times but with the same result. Around this time a group of three hikers were coming down the trail and I ran towards them and told them what had happened and that we needed help. At first we thought that we could carry the boys down with their help, it was getting awfully cold after all, but the man in the group said that he would run down the trail and call for help, which he did with his group. We were all very wet and cold, I remembered that I had packed my rain fly at the last minute (I wasn't even planning on packing a tent, after all it wasn't supposed to rain) and so it was right on top of all my other gear, we got it out and made a kind of makeshift shelter by tying it around the tree to keep it off the boys faces and the three of us holding it in on three corners. it kept us out of the wet and it helped. After some time passed we heard the sirens and came to a silent conclusion to that we had reached an equilibrium with the things that we could do to make the situation better, in a sense it was out of our hands. A few more minutes passed and I made a decisions, one I still debate slightly. I decided that I would be the messenger and run down the trail as fast as I could to inform the SAR team where we were, what the situation was and to run back with them if they needed help. I took my trekking poles and started running, which is when I realized how bad the storm really was because the whole trail was covered with 2-3 INCES of slush. I think I ran about a third faster than my triathlon race pace and was down to nearly the bottom of the trail when I saw the first 4-Wheeler. I stopped them, told them the situation and they instructed me to make it to the bottom and inform those in charge of the situation. I ran down the trail to the main bridge where I met up with the other party that had called for help and told them the situation and then I ran on to to the parking lot. I told everybody the story and was getting pretty good at it by way of repetition. I got a firemans blanked and towel, they took my vitals and I sat in the ambulance, which turns out is twice for me not the first like I thought (the car wreck in lake Powell) I was cold but I was determined to be there when the boys came down so I got out of the ambulance and wandered around. it was about 7:00

7:00 -

It was by and far, the most beatiful night I had ever seen in my life, seriously. Golden sunset, a double rainbow, and a gentle mist that hung 10 feet in the air and refused to fall, epicly beautifuly. Which bring me to my third point of shame:
1. telling jokes after the incident...I actually said "son of a didely" as my explative...what?! 2. Running down trail and 3. wishing I had remembered to grab my camera before I left...which I had contemplated because it was in the same trashbag as my phone...which phone by the way sort of works and sort of doesn't now.

7:15 - Media Circus
I want really go into the details of the media circus except to say that there wasn't a single news affiate that reported on the issue that didn't get the facts wrong. some said it was 4 friends, some said we were struck by lightning, some said it hit the tree (which it didn't) but my favorite was KSL's reporting that I was the scouts leader...HA! I dont think so. I would also like to say that I told every news reporter that asked that there were 5 people 3 adults and 2 teens and that we were NOT hit, but were close enough to have the issues we did. you can check out the stories here,0,3354305.story

Here are some video if they take it down...which they might. Also, i don't have express permission to have this video hosted on this site so i might have to take them down but you are the legal teams from the news crew and see this...come on! I think I deserve to have 'em dont you?


This is about the time the boys came down, the rode in on the 4-wheelers the put them in the ambulances. I gave Tyler a thumbs up and he just shook his head at me. he actually is a pretty funny kid.

7:30 - Hospital

We drove down to the hospital preparing our selves for the tongue lashing of a lifetime from the parents we knew would be there. When we arrived we were greeted by Tylers mom and grandmother who were glad to see us and asked if we were okay. They went back to see them and we waited in the waiting room until we got too cold and we outside (where it was warmer) rung out our socks and bummed it in front of the building for a while. a camera man asked if we had been interviewed already or if we would mind and I told him he had...admittedly a lie...because we were kind of done for the night. TheChannel 2 anchor came up about 5 minutes later and I gave him the same lie, he called my bluff and I told him that we just weren't up for it , he told us it would take long (a lie) and I told him that I was in the biz and knew the drill but we still weren't interested and he let us be. Sorry Channel two, I know its just your job and I would do the same thing but we just weren't up for it, if anyone gives you flak for it you tell then to call me.

8:30 -
after some hot chocolate we decided there wasn't much we could do there and we went home and a few of us got something to eat, about that time the phone storm happened. Sorry Anna for not calling sooner, I didn't know quite what to say.

After math.

There are a few things that Occurred to me and a few thoughts that i wish to say.

1. yes we were a scout group on a scouting activity but we weren't stupid...i.e we weren't "that dumb scout troupe that shoudn't have been there in the first place."
2. Wt took all necessary precautions that could have been taken before hand to be sure that this would be safe trip.
3. We made a judgment call to keep going after the first spit of rain, and I still don't regret that decision, all indications pointed to us being safe to continue further and we had all decided that we would assess the situation again as we got closer to the more exposed sections of the trail.
4. We turned around well before the storm got bad, we bailed on the hike BEFORE things got bad.

This is NOT to cover my butt, and its not a list of excuses, but it needs to be said.

On a more serious note I want to say that Eric and Wade were exemplary in their availabilities to focus and make sound judgment calls and were a blessing to have with me in this emergency. Their sound judgment, quick response and profession attitude was an an archetype for the mature adult Scout leader and outdoor enthusiast.

Things that I learned. I learned that in serious and tense situations I keep my cool by bringing levity to the situation. That isn't to say I turned from a helpful adult into a clown, but I was amazed how casually I managed my emotions, it was focused, and calm and not panicky. I am actually relieved that this is what I am like in an emergency, I am at least useful if not particularly serious. It was later than night that I realized that this emergency response was exactly what kept me calm because after the rush and adrenaline had worn of I was hit with a serious sense of the gravity of the situation.

On a spiritual note, I have a few words to say. We prayed before me wet off, and just because we were had this incident doesn't mean the Lord wasn't with us. I find it interesting that if you know me I am the first to call it quits when it comes to the weather, I have bailed more time that I have proceeded when it comes to even remotely questionable activities(I actually made the call to bail on this occasion, with the agreement of the others of course). Anna actually thinks I am a little too paranoid when it comes to the weather. The point is I felt fine about what we were doing, not even remotely worried until we were under the tree during the ark flood. I had Confidence that the Lord would give those with stewardship the knowledge that we needed as he has in countless times past. I never received such a prompting, later I discovered that neither Eric not Wade had received any sort of prompting. The Lord moves in mysterious way, and I have utter faith that I am telling you this story, that Tyler and Chris are alright and we aren't all camping right now for a reason. I have asked that If it is a lesson I need to learn that I but humble enough to accept it, and if some other reason that his will take its course and they the best may come of it, which it will. Tyler, Chris this story is not going to be my faith promoting story, it might be yours, it might not but know that God watches over all of us. I have Faith that nothing but good with ultimatly result from this experience.


Kathryn said...

wow. I have no response except I'm so glad you are all okay!! wow.

The Rich's said...

Im glad your ok bro and I am always amazed at the blessings that abound when we think to pray. You looked and interviewed well ...other than the wierd nose sniffle action...j/k. And on a more serious note i think you did as well and acted as corageously as anyone could have hoped! Good job! Love you bro

Ang said...

Wow, Pat! That is really scary. I'm glad you guys are all ok.

Bergeson Family said...

Sounds like you guys handled everything just right! Glad everyone was ok!

Danny and Becky DuPaix said...

Wow Pat, what a story. I'm glad to hear that everyone is ok.