Sunday, September 24

Trail's End

Madeleine re-fractures her collar bone on Mather Pass while scrambling up a washed out switch-back - imagine climbing a ladder with a 45 lb backpack with the rungs slipping downward. It requires a supreme physical effort placing an unusual amount of weight on our arms and upper body. Madeleine's clavicle has a weak point from the last break now exploited by the effort and backpack; she hears a 'pop,' and then pain, which she hides from me for two days, no complaints. This kid is tougher than nails.

We make camp before Muir Pass, one of the challenging passes with 5 miles of dangerous snow trekking, and realise moving forward no longer an option. For my part, I am exhausted and can barely piss let alone set a camp or carry a backpack.

We are fortunate to meet Marty, a firefighter from Georgia and a certified EMT, who assesses Madeleine's break. Remarkably a ranger appears (I squint to make sure I'm not imagining it) who has a walkie-talkie for outward communication (we have emergency beacons but reluctant to use them). We put together a plan of action and a helicopter arrives the following morning, circles a granite rock several times, then lands. We are on our way out.