Hiking, Hospitals and the H3

This year being a little more hectic than most, the annual Misogynistic Camping Trip was turned into a day hike. We (Sam, Jack, Smalltime and myself) left Cambridge, MA about 8a this (Saturday) morning heading North on I-93. The plan was to hike up to the summit of Mount Liberty and then continue on to the summit of Mount Flume and come back down, which forms a loop starting and ending in the same place. We were hoping to start around 11a and get down before dark.

I should note that we were traveling in an H3, which added it's own comedy to the trip. Firstly, you might ask, why the Hell were we driving in an H3? That's a question that I asked myself and, it turns out, Smalltime was borrowing a car from his dad--who works at a car dealership--and the only one he could borrow at the time was an H3. You've probably already encountered my opinions on the H3 from the exterior but this gave me a chance to back those up with impressions from the interior and ride of the thing. My first impression of the interior was that they'd done a fantastic job of making it very classy with two-tone leather, lots of polished metal and other fanciness but then shortly thereafter I started noticing things like the cheap plastic trim and the fact that the thing is absolutely tiny. The sheer tininess of the H3 is surprising considering the massive interior of the first Hummer and really starts to get to you. The vehicle is about the size of a standard SUV these days but it's got door panels that are about half a foot thick (not exaggerating), the average person will have only an inch or three of head room and then the windows are about a foot and a half tall; it makes you cramped and claustrophobic; what a waste. Suffice it to say that our concurrent view was that the H3 sucks, though our language wasn't so PC.

We managed to get hiking just shortly after 11a and we were making fantastic time until we hit the long swathes of steep snow and ice. Progress slowed down but we kept trudging along and eventually made the summit of Mount Liberty. The views from the summit were really fantastic; we could see everything for hundreds of miles in every direction and the snow-covered peaks all over the landscape were really beautiful. From the summit we were able to spot the H3 in the parking area and I can report that from 3 miles away the H3 doesn't suck as much. After chilling at the summit for a bit, we turned around and headed back (deciding against the go on to Flume plan). The return trip was pretty quick and easy, lots of downhill snow meant jogging and sliding a bunch.

After we'd made it about half way down and the snow-cover was giving way to more and more ice, an unfortunate thing happened: I slipped, started sliding on my butt, tried to stop myself with my left arm and popped it right out of the socket. My shoulder dislocated very easily without much pressure, implying that my accident this summer actually did leave me with a bad shoulder; having discovered this, I'm probably going to want to get surgery. So there we were, half way down (or half way up, depending on how you want to look at it) a snow and ice covered mountain and me with a dislocated shoulder. Unlike last time, my shoulder wasn't cripplingly painful and I wasn't going into shock but we still had to get off that mountain. The options, of course, were pop that sucker back in or bind it, climb down and hit up a hospital and since none of us knew how to put a shoulder back in, we opted for the latter approach. Going down was fantastically slow because I needed to have someone holding my hand and helping me find places to put my feet that were stable enough for me to not fall and close enough that I didn't have to spread my legs enough to move my arm. As we were slowly proceeding downward, some people that we had passed on the way up and back on the way down caught up to us and one of them (Russ or Rusty or something like that) offered me the use of his cramp-ons. With those crap-ons, I damn near walked down the rest of the mountain without much help, it was really impressive. All the while we were going down, my arm didn't really seem to hurt that much unless I bounced it the wrong way. Eventually, I was feeling really haggard, stressed and in mental anguish but no pain; when we reached the bottom and hopped back in the H3 (Smalltime had driven 0.6mi up the Franconia Notch bike path to the trailhead) suddenly I started noticing how very much my arm did hurt and it occurred to me that the mental stress was probably the manifestation of the pain behind a wall of adrenaline, endorphins and will to not get caught up there at night. At this point, I have to, begrudgingly, compliment the H3 again, it fared fantastically well getting us out on the snow/ice covered bike path without Smalltime having to lock the rear differential or switch to low range.

We then drove to the nearest hospital, which wasn't very close, and in some ways, mainly pain, the drive was worse than the ordeal of getting down from the mountain. We got to the hospital and then began the affair of popping my shoulder back in. I was expecting either a quick, painful pop it back in or a sedate me and I wake up with it back in approach but they decided not to take either of those. The approach that was taken was a two person operation where one person was behind me, displacing my shoulder blade and another person manipulating my arm to get it to slide back into place. The technique was not working and so they decided that they'd have to go with the more drastic, put me under and use machinery, approach. The doctor put my arm in my lap and then, after the doctor let go, I moved my arm slightly and the thing popped itself right back into place; it was really kind of comic. Then the doctor checked my shoulder a little to make sure that it was properly back, they took some X-rays and sent me on my way.

We stopped at the Ashland Burger King (one exit down from the Hospital) and had the traditional post-hike Ashland Burger King meal. From there we proceeded back to Cambridge, whence I proceeded back to Concord. All in all, not the most pleasant hike I've had but certainly one of the most interesting. Oh, and I do feel pretty damned hardcore for climbing down half of a mountain with a dislocated shoulder.